February 7, 2015 - No. 6


Harper Government's Extremism

Falsification of History to Smash the People's
Ability to Unite in Action for Nation-Building Today

Harper Government's Extremism
Despicable Attempts to Make Communism
the Main Enemy of Canadians

Anti-Communist Bill Debated in House of Commons

Opposition to Government Projects
On Whose Calendar Is April 30 a Black Day?
- Louis Lang -

Harper's Memorial to the Victims of Communism
Raises Numerous Concerns

- Council of Canadians - 

Why Does Canada Celebrate Raoul Wallenberg Day?
Why Raoul Wallenberg? Who Was He? What Did He Do?
- Pauline Easton and Dougal MacDonald -

Holocaust Remembrance Day
Germany Houses Refugees in Concentration Camps

Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad
Veterans Write German Chancellor

Film Review
Schindler's List
- Rich Gibson -

In the News
Another U.S. Attempted Coup
Economic War Waged Against Venezuelan People
A Coup in Real Time
- Eva Golinger -

European Central Bank Opposes Greek Rejection of Austerity

Investigation into Israel's Responsibility for
Crimes Committed in Gaza

Another Attempt to Derail Commission of Inquiry
Israeli Attack on Gaza Was "Massive State Terror"
- Richard Falk Interview with Electronic Intifada -

Falsification of History to Smash the People's Ability to
Unite in Action for Nation-Building Today
Harper Government's Extremism

Despicable Attempts to Make Communism the
Main Enemy of Canadians

The Harper Government is hell-bent on creating as many anti-communist memorials as possible before the end of Harper's term as Prime Minister. The abominable memorial to the so-called 100 million victims of communism is just one example.

As well as agreeing to provide public funds to build that project, the government has run rough-shod over established Canadian institutions to give pride of place to a monument which imposes a private extremist view of the world and makes this official policy. All of this is done in a manner that offends the many sectors of society which do not share its world view or interpretation of history. This is not governance. It is extremism. No society can survive on the basis of being taken over by extremist views and practices. This is a matter of profound concern.

It would not be surprising if the timing of the next federal election is linked to how soon this despicable anti-communist monument can be built. According to current plans, all stops are being pulled out to have it ready by Fall 2015. Harper will want his project built before the present fixed election date on October 19, in case he does not win another term, as that might risk the monument being canned. Unless, of course, the government concocts a high falutin' reason to postpone the election and uses its majority in the Parliament to push beyond October 19.

But no matter when the election is called, getting this monstrosity built within the announced time-frame means the Harper government will have to continue to defy the opposition to it. The public funding of this project is already a scandal. The private anti-communist organization behind the project has been incapable of raising the required funds because the project has no popular support. This is why the government stepped in to bridge the gap, opening the strings of the public purse. The cost has already risen to $5.5 million, from the initial projection of $1.5 million and there are estimates that it could go to even more than $12 million. Even that is probably an underestimation given the modern technology and materials required. Whatever the case may be, Canadians can expect the government to pay whatever it costs to make sure the project is completed.

Site for anti-communist monument.

Furthermore, the Harper dictatorship is placing the monument on land designated for a Federal Court building way back in the 1920s, a designation which has been a part of the "Long Term Vision and Plan" established by the National Capital Commission (NCC) and its predecessors. This shines more light on the corrupt practices in which the government is engaged. The contempt with which Harper and his ministers treat the NCC and other institutions becomes all the more egregious given how some of these institutions have usurped authority over matters they know nothing about. For instance, the appointed members of the Board of Directors of the NCC have no expertise to evaluate the spurious claim made by the private organization sponsoring this project, endorsed by the Prime Minister, that 100 million people died because of communism. On the basis of what authority are they entitled to assign land belonging to the National Capital Commission for such a monument, let alone such a prime location which, furthermore, contains  institutions which define the country?

Even Canada's most liberal establishment is describing the monument as brutal and anti-Canadian and regards its placement within the complex housing institutions that define Canada as being beyond the pale.

Clearly the attempt by Harper's handlers to portray him and his government as representative of mainstream Canadian opinion has fallen apart. Scandal will pile on scandal unless the government comes to its senses before it is too late.

Otherwise, from here on in, what Canadians can expect to see is an ever more brutal dictate and abuse of public money and the state institutions to impose this government's extremist will. This could even go beyond the next election if predicted attempts to micro-manipulate the election result succeed.

It must not pass! Canadians from all walks of life have every reason to speak out against what the Harper government is doing on this and all other fronts.

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Anti-Communist Bill Debated in House of Commons

Monument in Da Nang, Vietnam celebrates Vietnamese peoples' victory in 1975.

The House of Commons is now debating a bill passed by the Senate that goes on record as calling the fall of Saigon, on April 30, 1975, a "black day" in history which should be commemorated as such in Canada.

April 30, 1975 in fact marks the Vietnamese people's glorious achievement of liberating their country after twenty years of cruel aggression and war by the U.S. and that of the French colonial power before it from the mid-19th century to 1954. The fall of Saigon signaled the liberation of all of Vietnam, north and south, and permitted its reunification and, little by little, painful step by painful step, its rebuilding and remaking into a prosperous nation. It was the day that ended the most brutal U.S. imperialist war of aggression in which the U.S. committed unimaginably heinous crimes against humanity. The war of intervention and aggression by U.S. imperialism in Vietnam and subsequently in the other countries of Indo-China, goes down in the annals of aggressive wars as one of the most barbarous. It left more than three million Vietnamese dead, millions more wounded and homeless and the entire country and its economy in ruin. Close to 60,000 American soldiers were killed and 153,303 more were injured, many maimed for life, some living on the streets of the United States today for lack of care by the U.S. government. Despite all the military might and brutality of the U.S. superpower, the heroic Vietnamese people were able to defeat it. That is what the people of Vietnam and the peoples of the world celebrate on April 30 every year.

There is a photograph that is recognized worldwide as representing the fall of Saigon. In it, a helicopter struggles to lift off from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon carrying American personnel and their families, while their Vietnamese stooges are seen being kicked off the helicopter or hanging on for dear life. This best illustrates the attitude of the U.S. imperialists to those who served them well -- the turncoats the Harper government now panders to for self-serving aims.

Left: evacuation from the top of the U.S. embassy in Saigon; right: a south Vietnamese man is driven away with a punch to the face as he tries to get evacuated.

Following the defeat of the U.S. imperialists in Vietnam, a phenomenon emerged called "boat people escaping Vietnam," which started a deluge of heart-rending propaganda about large numbers of people dying at sea and their plight in refugee camps. Canada opened its doors to these "boat people" and since then this or that political party in power has tried to recruit them for self-serving purposes. Who were these people and why did they leave? That question deserves an answer but the Harper government has summarily declared that it wishes them to be called victims of communism. Canada is made up of so many immigrants or descendants of immigrants; it is important that the official narrative accurately reflect why they came here. Many are economic immigrants. Certainly many Vietnamese felt they could not survive in an economy which had been torn asunder by war and they were swept up in the dangerous enterprise of fleeing in non-seaworthy boats. But others were U.S. collaborators who did not want to face justice or participate in rebuilding Vietnam. These are the people the Harper government is extolling by creating the impression that it was the communists who were responsible for the war in Vietnam because they refused to hand over their motherland to the U.S. imperialists who, in their striving for world domination, declared themselves the true liberators of humankind.

In the sixties and seventies Canadians en masse opposed the war in Vietnam. En masse they demanded the U.S. get out of Vietnam and stop its crimes against humanity and they celebrated when the U.S. lost the war and was forced to get out of Indo-China. The U.S. executed that war in the name of freedom, democracy and human rights against what it called the evil communist empire and, today, Mr. Harper has usurped the state power to declare the victory of capitalism over communism, calling all those who share his convictions victims of communism. His is the zeal of a crusader, not the actions of a statesman.

The law being debated in the House of Commons has been so controversial that it has been renamed the Journey to Freedom Act from its previous title Black April Day Act. The Act seems designed to make it acceptable to liberals, who refuse to take a stand on the substantive issue. It claims not to be an insult to the government and people of Vietnam but an Act which celebrates Canada's immigrants of Vietnamese origin.

The name of this Act alone is an attempt to impose Harper's falsification of history as the official policy of Canada. It is more evidence that today the system of representative democracy based on the adoption and promotion of what are commonly called mainstream middle of the road Canadian values has been smashed. Certain extremist private interests have captured control of the state, making their own ideological views official state policies and attempting to impose them on Canadians and their society.

What the actions of the Harper government show is that the attack on communism is not only a matter of concern to the communists. It is a matter which concerns all Canadians because it is an attack on the state institutions themselves and on everything the country is known to stand for. It is unconscionable to permit the monument to the so-called victims of communism to be built -- let alone on prime Ottawa real estate. It is unconscionable to permit this law that negates the historic significance of the fall of Saigon, converting it, from the celebratory day of Vietnamese liberation over U.S. aggression and oppression that it is, into a "black day" to serve Harper's anti-communist crusade.

Members of Parliament and all Canadian people are duty-bound to speak up against such things and to do their utmost to make sure they do not succeed. The very act of speaking up against them will show what Canadians really stand for.

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Opposition to Government Projects

On Whose Calendar Is April 30 a Black Day?

Mass demonstration in Toronto against the Viet Nam War.

The House of Commons began debating a private member's bill on February 5, which is to mark April 30 as the day South Vietnam supposedly fell under the power of an authoritarian and oppressive communist regime. Many Canadians and the Vietnamese Embassy in Canada have opposed this bill as a flagrant insult to the Vietnamese people for whom April 30, 1975 is an historic day when the Vietnamese people won total victory against the armed forces of the United States who were forced to retreat from Saigon and admit defeat.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Conservative Senator Thanh Hai Ngo as the Black April Day Act, but in the face of the opposition to his outrageous bill, Senator Ngo changed its name to the Journey to Freedom Act. The bill has already received Senate approval.

During the Senate's consideration of the bill, Vietnam's Ambassador to Canada, To Anh Dung, was denied an opportunity to appear as a witness. The Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, wrote directly to Stephen Harper to register his concern about the intention of the bill, warning that the bill presents a distorted version of history and could damage the bilateral relations both countries have worked to build. The Conservatives used their majority in the Senate to pass the bill.

Changing the Bill's Name Does Not Change the Intention

Clearly, changing the name of the bill does not hide the Harper government's real intentions. The bill is the latest example of the Conservatives' obsessive anti-communist crusade. It is rewriting history to turn truth on its head and create political mystification and confusion to block the people from drawing warranted conclusions.

For the Vietnamese and world's people, April 30, 1975 represents the total victory of the Vietnamese people against barbaric U.S. imperialist aggression. This historic victory earned the Vietnamese people the greatest respect and admiration the world over for their courageous and heroic struggle which stands second to none in the annals of national liberation struggles.

It is also important to remember that in the spring of 1954 the Vietnamese people completely defeated the French colonialists at Dien Bien Phu. Military historians have recorded that Dien Bien Phu was "the first time that a non-European colonial independence movement had evolved through all the stages from guerrilla bands to a conventionally organized and equipped army able to defeat a modern Western occupier in pitched battle."

By 1955, the U.S. began its interference and subterfuge to sabotage the unity of the people of Vietnam and the scheduled democratic elections. What began with the U.S. military advising the puppet regime in South Vietnam escalated into full-scale military aggression to dominate Vietnam.

During its criminal aggression the U.S. military used vicious carpet bombing to kill and maim to force the Vietnamese people into submission. Vast numbers of B-52 bombers and fighter bombers, as well as assault helicopters and artillery were unleashed against the Vietnamese people. The weapons of mass destruction included not only conventional high explosive bombs but also napalm, white phosphorous and cluster bombs. It is estimated that 30 billion pounds of munitions were used by the U.S. military. In addition to the killing and wounding of untold millions, U.S. aggression in Vietnam had disastrous consequences for the natural environment. Rice paddies, orchards, farms and gardens were destroyed and polluted for generations to come. The U.S. military deliberately sprayed more than 70 million litres of herbicidal agents, mainly Agent Orange, all over the countryside. These defoliants still cause human suffering and casualties today. Children born decades after the war still suffer after-effects of the poison left by the American military.

The list of crimes committed in Vietnam is endless. Many of these facts were documented in a thoroughly researched book by Nick Turse titled, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, published in 2013. Turse carried out a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and conducted many interviews with U.S. military personnel. His book clearly exposes the sinister workings of a U.S. military machine that deliberately and systematically caused death and injury to millions of Vietnamese civilians.

The crimes committed by U.S. imperialism in Vietnam did not go unanswered. The Vietnamese people fought and they prevailed. From the early 1960s to 1975, all over the world the peoples demonstrated and took actions in support of their just war of resistance and for national liberation. In the U.S., the anti-war movement grew year after year and no attempts to suppress it through violence was able to turn it back. In Canada, youth and students in their hundreds of thousands organized protests in support of the struggle of the Vietnamese people. Thousands went to jail and some were even deported from Canada for fighting the police. All over the world, people did whatever they could to provide support for the National Liberation Front in Vietnam.

For all the progressive freedom loving people of Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world, April 30, 1975, could not come fast enough. It was the day they had all fought and wished for, so that the Vietnamese people could be free from all foreign aggression and create a life for themselves without any interference. With the liberation of Saigon on April 30, 1975, the National Liberation Front (NLF) in the south of Vietnam and the North Vietnamese Army in the north of the country achieved the main condition required to reunify their country. They showed the world that a people determined to defend their freedom and sovereignty are more powerful than any aggressive army, no matter how powerful and arrogant it is.

The reunification of Vietnam was finally proclaimed in 1976 and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established. Since then the government of Vietnam has made important advances in rebuilding the country and establishing a stable prosperous economy.

Considering the history of Vietnam, what problem is the Conservative government of Stephen Harper trying to solve with this bill? Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, said that he supports the bill because it celebrates 60,000 people who "risked their lives in search of freedom and found it in Canada."

If Mr. Kenney was really concerned about people "risking their lives in search of freedom," would he not honour the more than 90 million Vietnamese people who risked their lives every day during more than 15 years of U.S. occupation and crimes and the millions who were mercilessly killed by U.S. forces, both Vietnamese and American? Neither Kenney nor Senator Ngo have anything to say about the crimes committed against the Vietnamese people. This glaring omission suggests that these crimes and victims were a necessary sacrifice to bring the Vietnamese people "freedom and democracy."

Mr. Kenney does not seem to be concerned about these war crimes, or about seeing charges brought against those complicit in the crimes committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Vietnamese people. He is only concerned with how he can get 60,000 refugees to vote for the Harper government and impose its anti-communist agenda. By championing the demands of the corrupt elements from amongst these 60,000 refugees, who seek privileges in Canada for themselves, the Harperites think they can maintain their dictatorship. Like members of the Cuban Mafia who fled to Miami after the Cuban revolution, all kinds of people fled Vietnam after the victory over U.S. imperialism. Why did they leave? Surely this requires an inquiry? Certainly some of them left, especially those with money and connections, because they had assisted the occupiers in committing crimes against their own people and did not want to answer for their crimes. Canada is known to have provided refuge in Montreal to a general who was a drug lord.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a sovereign country with the right to determine its own social system and policies. It is shameful for the Harper government to support legislation which in fact harms the bilateral relations between Canada and Vietnam and the friendly relations between our two peoples. In the name of promoting freedom and democracy, the Harper government is mobilizing Canadians, particularly those of Vietnamese origin, against Vietnam and interfering in its internal affairs, including the people's right to select the political system of their choosing. It is an insult to the history of the Vietnamese people and a perversion of history in general. What should teachers in the classroom tell their students about Canada's alleged Journey to Freedom Day, April 30? The bill is also to criminalize communists, fomenting hatred against them and blaming them for the crimes the Americans and other imperialists and colonialists have committed against humanity. The fact that the Harper government is using a so-called private member's bill to enact this new law so as to give it the veneer of a democratic act of Canadians rather than the government move that it is, is a cowardly and despicable act. It fools no one.

The Members of Parliament debating this bill should keep in mind that they are being asked to rewrite history in a manner which is unacceptable to Canadians. They are also participating in an act which destroys Canada's diplomacy and relations with other countries. According to the UN Charter, all countries must respect the sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of all countries, which are to be treated equally whether they are big or small. Vietnam is a country which has conducted itself with honour and continues to do so. It has never harmed Canada in any way.

Oppose this so-called private member's bill! Oppose the Harper Government's falsification of history and its rotten intent!

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Harper's Memorial to the Victims of Communism
Raises Numerous Concerns

The Harper government is promoting a 5,000-square-metre Memorial to the Victims of Communism that would be situated on Wellington Street in Ottawa, diagonally across from the Supreme Court of Canada building. The monument is scheduled to be completed and in place this fall, just prior to the October 19 federal election. It is already highly controversial.

Cost: The cost of the memorial has already increased from an initial $1.5 million to $5.5 million now. Shirley Blumberg, a partner at one of Canada's most creative architectural firms, says the final cost could be $8 million or even $12 million. Donations are supposed to cover $2.5 million of the cost. In August 2014, it was reported that the memorial will receive about $4 million from three federal government departments -- Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian Heritage and Public Works.

Location: Last week, the Ottawa Citizen reported, "The Department of Canadian Heritage, which is overseeing the monument project, previously told the Citizen that the current site 'was deemed more favourable' by Tribute to Liberty [the private charity behind the project] because of its proximity and 'thematic links' to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Peace Tower, Parliament Hill and Library and Archives Canada."

But Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson, commenting on other urban design issues in Ottawa, notes, "Equally bad is the site for the new Memorial to the Victims of Communism, the brainchild of a private foundation eagerly supported by the Harper government." He quotes Blumberg who says, "I have a massive problem, a huge problem, with this memorial going on that site. I think it completely misrepresents and skews what Canada is all about." Blumberg notes that the memorial will "completely dominate" nearby buildings, while Simpson notes, "From some angles, the huge new memorial will block views of the Supreme Court."

Architect's rendering of design chosen for anti-communist memorial.

Design: In a September 2014 letter, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin says, "Regrettably, some of the proposed designs for the memorial could send the wrong message within the judicial precinct, unintentionally conveying a sense of bleakness and brutalism that is inconsistent with a space dedicated to the administration of justice." Maclean's magazine also reports, "Several prominent architects and urban planners have voiced their concerns about the memorial, including University of British Columbia's Larry Beasley, Vancouver's retired director of planning, and one of the most respected figures in Canadian urban planning circles."

Politics: And Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor writes, "Canada is, of course, the recognized world leader in apologies. Only a fool would deny that millions have been the tragic victims of communism, but that number pales, surely, in comparison with the victims of capitalism. If we agree to date communism to the Russian Revolution of 1917 -- feel free to argue the point -- the dating of capitalism's crimes would have to extend back beyond the Crusades and the spice wars to the very first deal that went badly sour. Regardless of that, and despite the fact that there is already a most-impressive and expensive Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, this new memorial in Ottawa is going ahead."

The Council of Canadians calls on the Harper government to rethink their plans given these concerns being raised about this memorial.

(February 3, 2015)

TML Notes

The "winning design" chosen over the objections of the Advisory Committee on Planning and Design for the National Capital Commission, features six parallel "folded" concrete rows rising 14.5 metres at their highest point, covered with 100 million finger-tip sized "memory squares," each said to represent "a life lost to Communist regimes worldwide."

"Visitors will be able to walk among the rows and touch the memory squares to 'viscerally experience the overwhelming scale of the Communist atrocities,'" says the winning team's statement of design intent.

"The memorial also features a central plaza, where an image of a victim of Communism -- the details are yet to be worked out -- will greet visitors," Don Butler writes for the Ottawa Citizen.

"Suddenly, the abstract singular lost lives will be transformed into a documentary still image of communist atrocities," one of the architects of the design said. "Their lives will not be lost in vain; they will convey the historical truth of their suffering."

Writing for the Globe and Mail, Roy MacGregor says: "A member of the selection jury, Shirley Blumberg, conceded to the media that the quality of submissions had been 'poor.' Not only that, she added, but 'the one that was selected by the jury was, I think, particularly brutalist and visceral.' In the opinion of the Toronto architect, the Ottawa memorial 'won't move people to think that there could be a better world. To me it's just focusing on evil.'"

When Ms. Blumberg spoke to the Citizen, "she made it clear that in her expert opinion, the planned memorial on such a prime and important piece of national property overshadows the history of our country and, in the end, 'misrepresents and skews' what this country is all about."

Blumberg told the Citizen the winning design focused on "brutality and viciousness in a disturbing way."

Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky sent an open letter to the Prime Minister arguing that the site needed "a significant piece of architecture," not what was eventually selected, MacGregor writes.

Former Ottawa-area Member of Parliament David Daubney, in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, said, "I view this as a totally disproportionate distortion of our history and another insult to the residents of Ottawa and most reasonable Canadians. Does the government want a revived 1950s Red Scare to be added to its fear of terrorism campaign or is this just a convenient, if expensive, way for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to thumb his nose at the Supreme Court in perpetuity?"

University of British Columbia Professor Larry Beasley, chair of the Advisory Committee on Planning and Design for the National Capital Commission and former head of planning for the City of Vancouver, told Maclean's magazine his committee was disappointed. "His committee not only believed it was 'not a good site,' but that the winning design by Toronto's ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture 'was not the one the majority of our group preferred,'" MacGregor reports.

Ottawa Citizen writer Don Butler reports on a letter obtained by the Citizen that was sent to Deputy Minister of Public Works Michelle d'Auray by Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. The letter was obtained by the Citizen. Butler informs that in December when the design for the anti-communist memorial was selected, five possible designs were being considered. Some, McLachlin wrote, "could send the wrong message within the judicial precinct, unintentionally conveying a sense of bleakness and brutalism that is inconsistent with a space dedicated to the administration of justice."

McLachlin said she had no comment on the decision to erect the memorial or its placement. "That is for the government to decide.

"However, because the proposed grounds of the memorial will be within the judicial precinct, I would ask your department and the selection committee to ensure that the final design is consistent with, and enhances, the public's respect for justice and the rule of law," she told d'Auray.

McLachlin also pointedly reminded d'Auray that the chosen site "has long been designated" as part of the judicial precinct. "As you know, the Supreme Court of Canada sits at the apex of the justice system," she wrote, the Citizen reports.

In an item entitled "NCC board acquiescence to political masters could ruin the Hill," published by the Ottawa Citizen on January 21, Joanne Chianello writes:

"Since the 1920s, the property has been designated in government documents as the future location of a new building for the Federal Court of Canada. Until, that is, Public Works simply allocated the current site to Tribute to Liberty, the private charity behind the proposed memorial.

"The NCC board of directors unanimously approved the change in November 2013 without officially conferring with the NCC's own advisory committee on planning, design and realty, which had reservations about the use of the site. When the committee did officially pronounce on the project in mid-2014, it judged the location totally inappropriate for the memorial, and it didn't think much of the winning design by Toronto-based ABSTRACT Studio Architecture.

"The NCC's planning committee is chaired by the renowned Canadian urban planner Larry Beasley, who told Maclean's magazine earlier this month that his committee told the government that 'the chosen site was not a good site, and that it was needed for a higher priority government purpose over the next few years.'

"So what did everyone do with this expert planning advice? Ignored it, evidently. The NCC board, which is expressly mandated to oversee the planning of the capital, failed to solicit, and later heed, its own planning and design committee. Instead, it voted with the government.

"And thus we come back to our age-old question: Why do we have the NCC if its politically appointed board members are just going to do the bidding of the government of the day?

"Making all this even worse is the fact that the NCC had already reserved a much more suitable site for the proposed Memorial to Victims of Communism on Wellington Street just west of Bay Street. But that location was apparently not prominent enough for the Tribute to Liberty charity.

"The Department of Canadian Heritage, which is overseeing the monument project, previously told the Citizen that the current site 'was deemed more favourable' by Tribute to Liberty because of its proximity and 'thematic links' to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Peace Tower, Parliament Hill and Library and Archives Canada.

"So we're going to plan the capital based on what a private charity wants, as opposed to respecting the opinions of professional planners we've recruited from across the country for the express purpose of bringing design sensitivity to the capital region?"

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Why Does Canada Celebrate Raoul Wallenberg Day?

Why Raoul Wallenberg? Who Was He?
What Did He Do?

The Harper government commemorated "Raoul Wallenberg Day"[1] on January 17 with a statement issued by Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney. With much hyperbole and no facts, Kenney's announcement says:

"Each year on January 17th, Canadians pay tribute to Raoul Wallenberg, one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century.

"Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat sent to Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War. At great personal risk, he helped rescue tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis and their like-minded allies.

"In honouring Wallenberg's courageous and heroic efforts, Canadians also remember one of the darkest periods of human history. The Holocaust stands alone in history for its depravity and inhumanity. Fortunately, amidst this darkness, there were shining beacons of light in individuals such as Raoul Wallenberg.

"On January 17, 1945, Soviet forces captured Wallenberg as they pushed the Nazis out of Hungary. To this day, his fate remains unknown. In recognition of his heroic achievements, Raoul Wallenberg became Canada's very first honorary citizen and Parliament declared January 17 as Raoul Wallenberg Day.

Stamp issued by Canada Post,
January 17, 2013.

"As the Minister for Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on Raoul Wallenberg's legacy. It is my sincere hope that all Canadians will be inspired by his selfless spirit and heroism, and that each one of us will act resolutely in the face of intolerance and prejudice."

On the occasion, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler[2] also issued a statement and wrote an opinion piece on the matter in the Montreal Gazette. Cotler's statement is notable in that it fills in "facts" and "arguments" which Kenney's hyperbole missed. Cotler's statement says amongst other things:

"Wallenberg personally embodied what today we call the Responsibility to Protect, notably rescuing 20,000 Jews by issuing them Schutzpasses conferring diplomatic immunity; establishing diplomatic safe havens through which he saved thousands more; and organizing hospitals, soup kitchens, and child care centers, saving tens of thousands of lives and providing the most vulnerable of victims with a semblance of human dignity. In his last rescue, which was perhaps his most memorable, he warned Nazi generals preparing to liquidate the Budapest ghetto that those responsible would be brought to justice; they desisted, and another 70,000 Jews were saved."

For Cotler it is a matter of good versus evil:

"As the world grapples with heart-wrenching terror in France, and mass atrocity in Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and elsewhere, Wallenberg's inspirational and shining example reminds us how one person with the compassion to care and the courage to act can confront evil, resist, prevail, and transform history."

This theme is repeated in his opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette: "...Wallenberg's legacy endures, reminding us of the power of an individual to confront evil and transform history."

The question arises as to why the Harperites have chosen to canonize Raoul Wallenberg as "one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century" and why he is such an example for Irwin Cotler? And even if he is, why does this mean he should be imposed on Canadians? Why Raoul Wallenberg? All Jason Kenney tells us is that Raoul Wallenberg is being honoured because he "helped rescue tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis and their like-minded allies [sic]."

While Cotler, in his article in the Montreal Gazette, lists the feats he says Wallenberg achieved, it is interesting that neither Kenney nor Cotler provide context or background, such as how it was that Wallenberg, even in his post as a diplomat, had such freedom of movement and success in having the Nazis let some Jews go. Or what was going on in Hungary during the war. Neither Kenney nor Cotler even bother to acknowledge that most of what is known about Wallenberg is unsavoury, to say the least, and the remainder is outright contentious.

Why would Canada want such an honorary citizen? There were hundreds and thousands of heroes who fought in the anti-fascist Resistance -- in fact millions. Why do the Harper government and Irwin Cotler single out Wallenberg?

Context is everything. Let us not forget that after the anti-fascist war, Winston Churchill, whom the Anglo-American elite consider a great statesman, launched the Civil War in Greece. Under his watch thousands of heroic men and women, many of them communists, were either killed or locked up in concentration camps for some forty years because they had fought in the Greek Resistance and refused to recant. So the choice of heroes for Canada to honour is certainly a matter of great concern.

The fact remains that the story of Raoul Wallenberg and his activities during the war are not so clear-cut as the Harperites and Irwin Cotler try to make out. Questions need to be raised about Wallenberg's activities in Hungary, for which he is being honoured. They include the following:

- How much of Wallenberg's celebrity status was due to the fact that he was a member of a very powerful capitalist family that collaborated with the Nazis and had economic interests in Hungary? He arrived in Hungary with only a few months remaining in the war and after 80 per cent of Hungarian Jews had been deported and murdered. If Wallenberg's main mission was to save Hungarian Jews, why was he not sent much earlier? The lateness of his mission and the information known about who sent him strongly suggest that it had much more to do with the post-war arrangements the British and Americans were making to ensure the Soviet Union would not emerge as a victor in the war.

- Why is Wallenberg made a celebrity when other organizations and individuals were actually stopping far more deportations to concentration camps long before Wallenberg commenced his work, including Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz, other Swedish diplomats, the Red Cross, the consul of San Salvador, and forgers associated with various Zionist groups. Lutz alone is known to have stopped deportation of far more Jews than Wallenberg did. Why is there no Carl Lutz Day? What about Valdemar Langlet, Angelo Rotta, Girogio Perlasca, Gernaro Verolino, Fredrich Born and Angel San-Briz who all accomplished what Wallenberg is said to have done or more? Finally, the Regent of Hungary, Miklos Horthy (an admitted anti-Semite) defied Hitler and stopped both the ghettoization and the deportation of many Jews on the pragmatic grounds that they played a key role in the Hungarian economy. Even after the Nazi takeover, Horthy spoke out against deportation, turning back trains and even stopping one attempt with military force. His actions are estimated to have saved 250,000 Jews. Had Horthy not done what he did, there would have been no Jews left to save.

- Every other country sent one or more of their own career diplomats to Hungary, while the Swede Wallenberg was sent by the U.S. How much of Wallenberg's work had to do with implementing the agendas of foreign governments and their intelligence agencies such as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, with which he was known to be connected? In other words, for whom was he really working and what were his real aims? Much of his primary concerns were commercial, financial, and social rather than humanitarian.

- Who really was responsible for his demise and why? Why did his very rich and powerful family make little effort to find him immediately after the war ended?

Furthermore, to believe the Raoul Wallenberg story, you have to believe that official Swedish neutrality was neither pro nor anti-Nazi. In fact, Swedish neutrality was used by the very rich Wallenberg family to conduct lucrative business ventures with the Nazis. Raoul Wallenberg was not risking his life every minute of the time he spent in Hungary or Budapest as the resistance fighters were doing to save Hungarian Jews, Roma, communists and resistance fighters from the Nazi killing machine and to defeat the Nazis. He was engaged in bribery, wheeling and dealing, as in any normal business deals amongst the very rich, to further his family's own self-serving interests, during and after the war.

In this context, the wheeling and dealing to save Jewish lives in Hungary was manipulated by the Zionist organization in that country, led by one Rudolf Kastner, whose unsavoury dealings were finally exposed in Israel when he was a member of the government. Kastner had actually been arrested by the Hungarian secret police and then freed by the Nazis so he could continue his work. A Hungarian Jew named Malchiel Greenwald published a newsletter in Jerusalem in 1953 which decried how some Jews were saved in deals which permitted the Nazis to send others to the death camps. The project was led by the British as confirmed by none other than David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, when he said:

"If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel."[3]

Rudolph Kastner, circa 1950 in Israel.

In his newsletter, Greenwald accused Kastner of collaborating with the Nazis in Hungary in 1944. The Attorney General of Israel charged Greenwald with "criminal libel," and the subsequent trial produced evidence that in fact Kastner, as leader of the Jewish Rescue Committee in Budapest, agreed to help the Nazis deport thousands of Jews to the extermination camps and in return the Nazis would allow him to choose 600 prominent Jews who would be allowed to go to Switzerland.

In his written verdict in Attorney General vs Malchiel Greenwald, Judge Benjamin Halevi wrote:

"The Nazi organizers of extermination and the perpetrators of extermination permitted Rudolf Kastner and the members of the Jewish Council in Budapest, to save themselves and their relatives and friends. The Nazis did this as a means of making the local Jewish leaders, whom they favoured, dependent on the Nazi regime, dependent on its goodwill during the time of its fatal deportation schedule. In short, the Nazis succeeded in bringing the Jewish leaders into collaboration with the Nazis at the time of the catastrophe.

"Eichmann did not want a second Warsaw. For this reason the Nazis exerted themselves to mislead and bribe the Jewish leaders."[4]

Judge Halevi also pointed out in his verdict that at the Nuremberg trials, Kastner had provided a written affidavit in favour of SS murderer Kurt Becher to guarantee his freedom and that it was "full of lies." Becher was in charge of confiscating Jewish property in Hungary. He died in West Germany in 1995 an extremely wealthy businessman based on valuables he extorted and tortured out of many Jews during the war, as well as his subsequent enterprises.[5] These included Cologne Handelgesellschaft which ironically had extensive business dealings with the Israeli government.

In October 1945, after all the Holocaust survivors had trickled back to Hungary, the people from Kastner's village (Kluj) tried him in absentia in a people's court and pronounced him a war criminal. In 1998, the Hungarian government tried to rehabilitate Kastner's reputation by erecting a monument to him in Budapest, but this was denounced by Hungarian Jews as a wicked attempt to rewrite history.

Now, in similar fashion, monuments and statues are erected to Raoul Wallenberg in Austria, Israel and the United States, while Canada declares January 17, Wallenberg Day. This does not serve to unite people or provide a shining example of heroism that the people can emulate. Not everyone had links to the Nazi war machine, and for good reason. Not everyone had pots of money to buy off Nazi officials and even if they did, they could find another use for such money.

There are others like Wallenberg who are heroes of the international financial oligarchy and their representatives. One is eulogized in the Stephen Spielberg movie Schindlers' List about a Nazi who, according to the film, pays to save the lives of some Jewish slaves by keeping them in his employ. The Nazi Schindler is a hero in Spielberg's eyes and the eyes of many who fall prey to the manipulation of the history of WWII and the European Holocaust. This manipulation serves their purposes to support the Zionist project in Israel today, as well as push anti-communism and propaganda to isolate Russia.

Spielberg has a lot of money and investors. He could make any project he wants. In fact, prior to making Schindler's List, he sent people to interview every Holocaust survivor who would talk to him. He could have made any film -- why did he choose this one?

When reviewing the information known about Raoul Wallenberg and the Wallenberg connection to the Nazi war machine, it is difficult to comprehend the psychopathology that would see the deals with the German Nazis as laudable under the guise that they saved Jewish lives, as if there was not an alternative. The fact is that in Hungary these deals included having the Germans give the Jews en route to concentration camps the impression that they would be liberated, with the aim of provoking no resistance. That is why the extermination of Jews in Hungary was so swift, which Irwin Cotler does not say. The fact that fewer Nazi troops were required to guard the camps also meant that more Nazi troops were available on the war front.

The presentation of people like Raoul Wallenberg as heroes is the result of the manipulation of perception based on decontextualization. It serves the aim of disempowering the people so that they do not oppose the current anti-communist, racist and anti-worker propaganda such as that engaged in by the Harper government for purposes of smashing the fight against the neo-liberal anti-social offensive. The aim of the narrative of good versus evil, when all is said and done, is to destroy the human capacity to distinguish right from wrong, fact from fraud, a lofty ideal from a self-serving course of action.

Why doesn't Canada have a day honouring the undisputed anti-fascist heroes, some of whom were Canadians, for example, the members of the MacKenzie-Papineau Brigade who fought in Spain against Franco's fascist onslaught? Or the world-renowned doctor Norman Bethune?

Left: MacKenzie-Papineau Brigade; Right; Dr. Norman Bethune beside blood transfusion
truck in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

One reason is to denigrate and discourage the organization of resistance to dictatorial power, which is what Harper himself wields today. Another reason is, once again, to attack communism and everything progressive. It is well-known that the communists were in the forefront of the anti-fascist resistance within most of the European countries and made the major contribution to defeating the Nazis. The heroic role of the Soviet Red Army in liberating Europe and the tremendous sacrifice of the resistance fighters -- these are things the Harperites are vainly trying to bury forever in their ongoing attempts to rewrite history in the interests of those who seek to usurp power to dominate the world today.

It brings Canada no honour to have given honorary citizenship to a controversial figure like Raoul Wallenberg. As for the Harperites and the likes of Irwin Cotler, it merely exposes them as the profound Zionists and Anglo-American imperialist agents they are. Canada has many heroes to admire, both those who are Canadian and those who are from other countries. Canada's younger generation is sure to seek them out and hold them in high esteem.

Who Was Raoul Wallenberg?

Raoul Wallenberg was a businessman and member of Sweden's richest and most powerful capitalist family, who first went to Germany-allied Hungary in February 1942 to start conducting an import-export food business on behalf of the Swedish company Mellaneuropeiska, owned by industrialist Sven Salen, a close associate of the Wallenberg family.

Coincidentally, the American Legation was in the same Budapest building as Mellaneuropeiska. The company manager, Kalman Lauer, did not want to travel to Hungary because of anti-Jewish laws so that work fell to Wallenberg. Wallenberg also made several business trips to Germany and Occupied-France during the early years of World War II. It appears that on these trips he may have been acting on business matters other than those of his own firm.

Wallenberg in Budapest during the war.

Hungary was a declared ally of Nazi Germany with its own government. The Nazis kept Hungarian regent (uncrowned king) Miklos Horthy and his circle of aristocrats and industrialists in power because of Hungary's contribution to Germany's war economy. But after Adolf Hitler discovered that Horthy and Prime Minister Miklos Kallay were secretly negotiating an armistice with the approaching Soviet forces, Hitler ordered the occupation of Hungary by German troops on March 12, 1944, after luring Horthy out of the country. The Nazi occupiers, commanded by Adolf Eichmann, began shipping Jews again from Hungary by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Even so, the Hungarian government never completely lost its sovereignty over its own country, and, as it became clearer that Germany would be defeated, Hungary worked to distance itself from the Nazis and build relations with the allied nations.

On June 12, 1944, Raoul Wallenberg was officially appointed by the U.S. Wartime Refugee Board (WRB), not by Sweden, to aid Hungarian Jews. In fact, he could be most accurately described as a Swedish businessman working for the U.S. government and financed by U.S. money. He had attended university in the U.S. from 1931-35. One of Wallenberg's conditions was that he be given undisclosed amounts of cash to bribe Hungarian and Nazi officials. During Wallenberg's six-month stay in Budapest, the WRB issued him twelve sets of instructions while Sweden issued him none. The Swedish Foreign Ministry did, however, make him an attaché to the Swedish Legation in Budapest to give him full diplomatic accreditation and immunity, and also paid him a small salary.

The choice of Raoul Wallenberg for the mission was not accidental. Wallenberg knew the former Hungarian Minister in Stockholm, Dr. Antal Ullein-Reviczky, and his wife, and through them met Jozsef Balogh, editor of the influential Hungarian Review. Balogh had gathered around himself a circle of influential and British-oriented aristocrats, industrialists, and politicians, including Horthy and Baron Manfred Weiss, Hungary's most powerful industrialist. The Weiss empire, owned by the interrelated Weiss, Chorin, Kornfeld and Mautner families, included Swedish subsidiaries, while, in turn, the Wallenberg family had a powerful presence in Hungary through their monopolies, Swedish Match and SKF Bearing. Henrik de Wahl, managing director of Manfred Weiss A.G., played a key role in ensuring Raoul Wallenberg's selection for the humanitarian mission to Budapest. Meanwhile, the Wallenberg family found ways to quietly help members of the Hungarian elite protect their holdings, the same elite, which formed the core of Raoul Wallenberg's Hungarian associates.

Wallenberg arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1944, just ten months prior to Germany's surrender. His stated mission for the War Refugee Board (WRB) was to "take action for the immediate rescue of Jews of Europe and other victims of enemy prosecution." The WRB was no minor organization. Established by President Roosevelt on January 22, 1944, it consisted of Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., Under-Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. (a J.P. Morgan partner), and Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Further, Iver Olsen, the WRB representative who hired Wallenberg and liaised with him, also worked for the OSS. Some U.S. officials doubted Wallenberg's reliability because of his family's many lucrative business relationships with the Nazi government (see below).

A less-publicized focus of Wallenberg's aid mission was actually the protection of vital Hungarian business assets and of the highly skilled professionals employed by these businesses, which his business associate Kálman Lauer called, "People of the Future." The aim was to preserve the elite so they could come to power again in a post-war, pro-British, pro-American Hungary. It was clear that Nazi Germany was going to be defeated and that the Soviet Union would have influence in post-war Hungary. In fact, the lateness of Wallenberg's mission strongly suggests that the U.S.'s post-war considerations were the dominant factor in its creation.

Some deals that Raoul Wallenberg made with Hungarian and German Nazi representatives to enable him to place Hungarian Jews under official Swedish protection were, to say the least, questionable. Lars Berg, the Swedish consul in Budapest during the war, confirmed this in a post-war internal Swedish Foreign Ministry memo: "Wallenberg received considerable support from the wealthy industrial family Weiss ... Even Himmler's Special Representative and controller of the [confiscated] Weiss Family [holdings], Kurt Becher ... helped Raoul Wallenberg in critical situations."

As Germany's fortunes declined, various German officials, including Himmler, Eichmann and Becher, tried to make deals with various foreign representatives where they made false promises to save certain numbers of Jews in return for money or even equipment, likely actually hoping to save their own necks from post-war justice.

Raoul Wallenberg's overall strategy to aid the Jews was to issue Swedish passports and protective letters (schutzpasses) to some Jews destined for execution and put them safely in Budapest buildings he had bought with U.S. money, identified as "Swedish territory," until they could emigrate from Hungary. It is not clear whether the protective documents were sold or given away. There is contention concerning the number of Jews actually saved by Wallenberg, -- certainly not the 20,000 suggested by Cotler; more in the range of 4,500.[6]

The issuing of protective documents did not originate with Wallenberg; they were invented by Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz in 1942 and they were being used by Lutz, the Swedish Legation and others long before Wallenberg arrived. Even prior to 1941, diplomats from Britain, Portugal and France issued "visas for life." Sometimes Nazi and Hungarian officials accepted the schutzpasses and other times they did not. Emigration of course was a further step that required funds, which were the responsibility of the individual. Emigration fitted well with the Zionist project, the aim of which was to flood Israel with European Jews in order to outnumber the Arab population.

Swiss Vice-Consul to Hungary, Carl Lutz, credited with saving tens of thousands of lives -- half the Jewish population of Budapest. A stamp was issued by Switzerland in 1999 in his honour. 

On October 15, 1944, Horthy negotiated a ceasefire with the Soviets. The Nazis then forced Horthy to abdicate in favour of Ferenc Szalasi and his fascist Arrow Cross Party (the Nyilas) even though Soviet forces were already inside Budapest. The Arrow Cross government helped Eichmann restart deportations of Jews to Auschwitz, and conduct random killings, but it effectively fell at the end of January 1945, when the Soviet Army took Pest and the fascist forces retreated across the Danube to Buda. Many Arrow Cross members were tried as war criminals by the post-war Hungarian government and a number were executed, including Szalasi.

Just before the Soviet army arrived to liberate Budapest in fall 1944, Wallenberg is reputed to have gone with Pal Szalai, a high-ranking member of the fascist Arrow Cross Party whom Wallenberg had bribed, to personally persuade the Nazis to stop an Arrow Cross plan to directly assault the central Jewish ghetto. However, Wallenberg's role was considerably more limited than depicted in popular representations. Historians such as Paul Levine provide evidence that the decision of Pal Szalai to betray the Arrow Cross plans to Wehrmacht General Schmidhuber was the critical act of this particular drama.[7] Schmidhuber ordered the assault to be halted and arrested some of the individuals due to lead it, likely having in mind post-war retribution for war crimes.

On October 29, 1944, elements of the 2nd Ukrainian Front under Marshal Rodion Malinovsky launched an offensive against Budapest and by December 26 the city had been encircled by Soviet forces. The German commander refused to surrender, setting in motion a long and bloody siege until the Germans surrendered on February 15, 1945. The Soviet Army completely liberated Hungary on April 4, 1945.

During the siege of Budapest, on January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was called to General Malinovsky's headquarters to answer charges he was engaged in espionage. The allegation was true. In May 1996, the CIA released thousands of previously classified documents regarding Wallenberg, which confirm that he was an American intelligence asset while in Hungary. Wallenberg also had connections with Britain's MI6 and with the underground "Hungarian Independence Movement" (MFM), which was in contact with Swedish Intelligence, which worked closely with its British and U.S. counterparts. Further, family patriarch Marcus Wallenberg (1899-1982) and his associates had been involved in clandestine talks between Britain and Hungary in 1942/43. Obviously, all the spying was about the U.S. and UK jockeying for power and influence in post-war Hungary and limiting Soviet influence, once the Nazis were defeated.

The Wallenberg Family's Collaboration with the Nazis

It is significant that Raoul Wallenberg was a member of Sweden's richest and most powerful family who have long controlled about 30-40 per cent of the entire Swedish economy and who have been compared to the U.S. Rockefellers. The Wallenbergs own such major Swedish corporations as Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (the family bank), Foundation Asset Management (FB), weapons maker Bofors, defence contractor Saab, communications giant Ericcson, Skandinavian Airlines (SAS), drugmaker Astra-Zeneca, Husqvarna, Atlas Copco, and SKF Bearing. The current family patriarch, Marcus Wallenberg (1956-), served on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, which is an annual private conference of the capitalist world's leading bankers, industrialists, and politicians.

During the Second World War, Sweden, which emerged from the war as the richest country in Europe, was officially "neutral," but this was a myth. Swedish companies, including those owned by the Wallenbergs, collaborated with the Nazis, supplying Germany with raw materials, giving credit to allow the delivery of war materials to the Wehrmacht, providing railway transport to assist the invasion of Norway, and acting as a conduit for goods and foreign currency to and from Germany. Sweden's King Gustav V was a close friend of Herman Goering (whose first wife was Swedish) and other high Nazi officials. Following the war, "neutral" Sweden agreed to pay almost $70 million in reparations but has not done so and still holds many tons of Nazi gold somewhere in its bank vaults.

The Wallenbergs' bank, Enskilda Banken (which merged with Skandinaviska Banken in 1972 to form Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken) helped the Nazis dispose of millions of dollars in assets confiscated from prisoners by converting the stolen Nazi gold into Swedish currency. The Enskilda Bank secretly purchased all foreign branches of the Robert Bosch Group, a German manufacturer of spark plugs that employed slave labour, in return for Bosch facilitating Enskilda's sale of $3.6 million worth of German bonds. The Enskilda Bank also helped Nazi corporations such as I.G. Farben and Krupp hide their foreign subsidiaries to avoid confiscation by the Allies. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., in a February 1945 letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, charged that Enskilda was making large loans to the Nazis without collateral, and making covert investments for German capitalists in U.S. industries.


1. In 1985, Raoul Wallenberg was declared Canada's first honourary citizen by the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney. Sixteen years later, on June 5, 2001, the date January 17 was established as Raoul Wallenberg Day by the Chrétien Liberal government. It was celebrated for the first time in 2002.

2. Irwin Cotler is the Liberal MP for Mount Royal, former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, and emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University. In 2014, he was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Medal.

3. David Ben-Gurion, quoted on pp 855-56 in Shabtai Teveth's Ben-Gurion in a slightly different translation. (http://monabaker.com/quotes.htm)

4. District Court, Jerusalem, June 22, 1955.

5. Kurt Becher joined the Nazi Party in 1934, served as SS Major in Poland and was a member of the Death Corps that worked around the clock killing Jews. Appointed by Heinrich Himmler as Commissar of Concentration Camps in German-occupied territory, he was also made Chief of the Economic Department of the SS command in Hungary. Adolf Eichmann worked with Becher in the Economic Department. In 1945, Hitler gave Kurt Becher the rank of Lieutenant General of the SS Waffen Command for his achievements in Auschwitz, Dachau, Mathausen, Bergen-Belsen and others.

Becher's assets were assessed by German newspapers at more than $30 million in the 1960s.

(Hecht, Ben (1961). Perfidy. Jullian Messner Inc.: New York.)

6. Florence, Ronald (2010). Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining for Lives in the Holocaust. New York: Viking.

7. Levine, Paul (2010). Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Myth, History and Holocaust. London & Portland: Vallentine Mitchell.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Germany Houses Refugees in Concentration Camps

Concentration camps, established for the purpose of using the peoples of Europe as slave labour for the Nazi war machine and undertaking the mass extermination of Jews, are now considered empty buildings that can be used to house asylum seekers, newspapers report. Germany cities located near Nazi concentration camps have begun to house refugees in these camps, they say.

Less than two weeks before the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the city of Schwerte moved about 20 asylum seekers into the Buchenwald concentration camp, news agencies report.

On January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the city of Augsburg decided to turn a section of the Dachau concentration camp into a refugee centre. Referring to the pressing need to find housing for refugees, city official Stefan Kiefer told local newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine, "One cannot only commemorate [at this memorial site], one also has to act." Antje Seubert, a representative of the Green party, celebrated the decision as a "victory over fascism."

The European regional office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, "The number of asylum applications received in 2014 in European Union (EU) Member States has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. A quarter of the applicants are of Afghan, Eritrean or Syrian origin, and a similar proportion are under 18 years of age. There have also been many more asylum applications from stateless people, with an estimated total of 436,000 people across the European Union. Germany continues to be the recipient of the largest number of asylum applications, followed by France, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom."

The number of people seeking refugee status continued to climb in the first half of 2014 "driven by the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as conflict and instability in Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere," the UNHCR pointed out.

UNCHR map of current levels of refugees in Europe (click to enlarge).

Meanwhile, anti-immigrant propaganda continues in Germany and other countries in Europe and organized anti-immigrant and anti-refugee activities are increasing, especially targeting those of Muslim faith. "In the past couple of months, the Islamophobic PEGIDA movement has gained support in Germany," TeleSUR reports. PEGIDA stands for Patriotische Europer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (German) or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. "One of the principal aims of the movement is to create a new immigration law that would greatly restrict the number of refugees coming to Germany and make it easier to deport those seeking asylum," TeleSUR reports. The group, based in Germany, attempted to hold a rally in Vienna, Austria, on January 12, but their presence was massively rejected by Austrians. PEGIDA mobilized 250 people, but were opposed by some 5,000 people.

(TeleSUR, Washington Post, UNHCR)

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Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad

Veterans Write German Chancellor

On January 22, the Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad hosted a Round Table discussion with survivors of the historic battle. These veterans, still resident in the Volgograd region, Maxim Matveyevich Zagorulko, Alexander Kolotushkin, Maria V. Sokolov, Mikhail Tereshchenko, Eugene F. Rogov, and Alexander Yakovlevich Sirotenko, all in their late 80s and early 90s, looked at the present world as well as at the past, and produced an open letter, a "letter of the living" to the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. The full text is on several Russian language sites. Their letter follows, in English.

"The Motherland Calls" statue at Volgograd Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad.


Dear Frau Merkel,

Here in the 70th year after the victory over Nazism, we, veterans of that terrible war and participants in that most horrible combat, are aware that a spectre again is haunting Europe, a spectre of the Brown Plague. This time it is Ukraine that has become the nursery of Nazism, where from the fountainhead of an ideology of ultranationalism, antisemitism, and inhumaneness, there have come into practice rejections of other cultures, physical violence, elimination of dissenters, and murders motivated by ethnic hatred.

Before us there stand familiar pictures: torchlight parades, thugs in Nazi-emblemed uniforms, upraised right hands in the Nazi salute, fascist processions with police protection through the center of Kiev, and the imposition, on certain people, of second-class status.

We have seen all this before, and we know where it leads.

Patriotic war veterans greeted by Russian President Putin, February 2, 2012 at ceremony in Volgograd on occasion of 70th Anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad.

In Ukraine the Brown Plague has been smoldering over the last decade, and has broken out into a civil war. Nazi-like formations such as Right Sector (Praviy Sektor), such as the so-called National Guard, numerous informal but well-armed battalions like "Azov," with regular Ukrainian army support such as air strikes and heavy artillery, have been systematically destroying the population of Eastern Ukraine.

They are murdering innocent people simply because the people wish to speak their own language, because they have a different idea about the future of their country, and because they do not wish to live in a government led by Banderists.

Banderists are followers of the so-called Ukraine Liberation Army, which, we remind you, Frau Merkel, fought in the time of the Second World War on the side of the Vermacht, and with the SS Galizia Division, who distinguished themselves in the murder of Soviet Jewry. They exalt their idealogical forebears, renaming the streets of Ukrainian cities after Nazi war criminals! The history of the 20th Century is being rewritten before our eyes. No wonder that the Banderists of our time -- with a fanaticist's gleam that is familiar to us veterans from the front of the World War at Stalingrad -- are calling for wiping Donbass off the face of the earth, and incinerating citizens of their own country in the east with napalm! There is documentary evidence that they have killed people simply for wearing the Ribbon of St. George, our symbol of the victory over fascism.

The truth is, Frau Merkel, that in Ukraine an all-out orgy of fascism is going on. It's not just some anti-semitic remarks in Parliament or by dropouts about the superiority of one "race" over another. It is a matter of full-scale bloody crimes, whose victims now number in the hundreds and in the thousands.

But the west has taken a very strange position, and we do not understand it. The position can be understood as accommodating Ukrainian Nazis. It is understood in Ukraine as the position of Europe, and it is beginning to be perceived as such in Russia. And we would like to know what the German people would say about it from the vantage point of their historic national experience.

It is important for us to know your view, the view of the leader of the great people that once suffered the Brown Plague, but at the cost of terrible sacrifice, recovered from it. We are aware of how they struggle in your country with any manifestations of Nazism, and believe us, we appreciate it. All the more, it makes us wonder why, cleaning out any possible germs of Nazism in your country, you are unconcerned about a full-scale outbreak of it in another part of Europe?

Why do European leaders march in support of French caricaturists murdered by Islamic terrorists, but do not march against fascism in Ukraine? Why did the head of state, who ordered annihilation of part of his own population, participate in this march? Why do 12 French victims deserve attention, but thousands of Ukrainian and Russian victims do not?

Do you know how many children were killed in Eastern Ukraine by thugs with Nazi emblems on their uniforms? Do you want to know? We will offer you this information -- if you do not already have it. Why do the people of Europe look calmly upon the massive violence in Ukraine? Is it simply because there is no mention of it in your mainstream media? Then where is their well-known independance? Independance from facts? Independance from truth? What is the actual goal of your economic sanctions? Weaken Russia as a power? Support fascism in Ukraine? Or just to eliminate our pensions which we get as veterans of the World War?

Dear Frau Merkel, the grim history of the 20th Century has taught us a few lessons.

1. The rewriting of history is the first path to Nazism.

Every European fascist regime in the '20s and '30s started with this. And this is the path they have traveled in Ukraine: from re-writing schoolbook histories to the widespread demolition of Soviet memorials. The acme of falsehood was uttered by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in the German media about "the Soviet Union invading Germany and Ukraine"! It would be interesting to know your sentiments about that, the sentiments of a leader of a country where holocaust-denial is a crime entailing actual time in prison.

2. The search for scapegoats is a manifestation of Nazism.

Fascist regimes blame every failure of their country on various groups, ethnic, social and religous. In years past, this was the Jews and the Communists. In today's Ukraine, the assigned scapegoats are Russians, Russia, and the entire east of the country.

3. If Nazism appears in one country, the disease can spread throughout the world.

You cannot promote Nazism in one country and suppose that it will stay within that country's borders. The wave of Nazism spreads to all, overstepping boundaries. That's the reason they called Nazism "The Brown Plague." Nazism must be stopped at the distant approaches, lest it arrive in your house.

4. Nazism cannot be ignored; it must be resisted.

Should anyone suppose that one can simply ignore Ukrainian fascism, and pay no attention to it, he is utterly in error. The nature of Nazism is such that it takes being ignored as encouragement, even as an acknowledgement of its strength. Nazism is never local; it can only root, and grow. Therefore the only way with Nazism is an active bitter struggle against it.

5. The most important weapon in the struggle against Nazism in its early stages is the truth.

In short, truth defeats Nazism. By exhibiting the inhumane essence of Nazism, the inhumane essence revealed in it own ideology, in the exhortations of its adherents, in its actual executions of persons, we fight against Nazism as it is. Historical truth is the best shield against Nazism. If their own government wouldn't hide the history of their country and their people from the youth, there would be fewer Nazi followers in Ukraine. Current mass media play a huge role: they can either be a part of Nazism, or they can fight it.

Dear Frau Merkel! In Russia, as successor to the USSR, we have a special and historic mission. Seventy years ago, at the cost of the worst casualties of the war, we put an end to Nazism in Europe. We personally, Stalingraders all, with superhuman effort, changed the course of history, not just our history, but European history, yes, world history. And we cannot allow the revival of Nazism. Certainly not next door! We have fought it; we will fight it; we invite you to fight it together!

A character, the archetype of a fascist boss, in a well-known and favorite film here is made to say: "As soon as it happens anywhere, that instead of saying 'Hello' they say 'Heil!' you'll know: that is where they are waiting for us, and that is where we will start our great revival."

Frau Merkel, "Heil" is heard everywhere in Ukraine, openly, with official support. It is time for the whole European world to stop this bane. We very much hope that the German people, and all Europe, together with the people of Russia, will stamp out the reptile, root and branch.

Painting at the Volgograd Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad depicts scene
from the battle.

(Russia Insider February 2, 2015. Translated from original Russian by Tom Winter. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Film Review

Schindler's List

The following review of Steven Spielberg's 1993 film "Schindler's List," was written by Rich Gibson in 2001. Gibson is presently an emeritus professor of Social Studies in the College of Education at San Diego State University.


This, the day before Hitler's birthday, has been rightfully designated as Holocaust Remembrance Day. In an era of rising inequality, deepening segregation, and intensifying irrationalism, it makes good sense to look back on what is best called the Shoah, to reflect, and to insist, "Never Again."

This day, however, is trivialized by yet another national showing of the official text on the Shoah, Stephen Spielberg's movie, "Schindler's List." The film is now the sanctioned starting point for the study of the Holocaust in most U.S. classrooms and the basis of understanding for millions of people. That is tragic. Spielberg's movie is fiction. It deliberately ignores the historical context of the Shoah. Worse, if people follow the prompting of the film, they will recreate the conditions that made fascism possible. A harsh critique of "Schindler's List" is quite in order.

Nationwide free showings of "Schindler's List," without big commercial interruptions began in 1997, when the Ford Motor Company sponsored the event. Henry Ford was a fascist, a significant contributor to Nazi coffers and ideology. This deepened the paradox set up on 24 March, 1994 when the fictional "Schindler's List" was used by the most popular television news program in the U.S., "60 Minutes," as proof that the Shoah indeed occurred (in rebuttal to "revisionist historians" who argue that the Shoah is a hoax). The movie is based on a novel, historical fiction drawn on real events.

"Schindler's List," opens with no historical background. We are simply in the midst of the construction of the war against the Jews. How did the Nazis come to power? Why were they so popular? Who fought back? How was fascism defeated? All of these questions are silenced. Instead, we meet Schindler: Nazi-about to be a hero.

Contrary to the fictional movie, Schindler was no angel of mercy. He was an early volunteer to the fascist movement. He was a Nazi profiteer, never needing to be dragged along. Against the film's claim, "The list is the ultimate good," not all of "Schindler's Jews" were survivors. In one SS sweep, Schindler turned over 700 of them. They were sent to a death camp and killed. This created openings on the famous list. Desperate victims had to bribe their way onto it, paying the accountant Stern. The central belief of the survivors in the film, get on the list and get saved, "the list is life," is not true. While Schindler's munitions factory was mostly dysfunctional, he simply purchased black market munitions and sold them to the Germans, hardly the act of sabotage presented in the film. It is clear that for "his" Jews, Schindler created not only competition when collective resistance was key, but also a false sense of shelter which, in turn, separated them from potential allies and made effective mass resistance less possible.

Schindler did not become a list-maker, an apparent ally of Jews, until after the battle of Stalingrad, the turning point of World War II, when every thinking German knew defeat was at hand. Schindler did not begin to act in earnest until matters were even more desperate for the Nazis, mid-1944, after Nazi Field-Marshall Rommel had committed suicide. At war's end, Schindler, disguised as a concentration camp victim and accompanied by friends, fled west -- as did many war criminals -- fearing arrest by the Soviets. He continued his dissolute womanizing alcoholic life, made yearly trips to Israel to collect accolades and demand money, and died in 1974. At least some of "his" Jews felt the loss of another Nazi was no loss at all.

Most teachers and U.S. citizens do not know the film was banned in much of the Middle East and repeatedly attacked in Israel, or that the maker of the profound film, "Shoah," denounced both Spielberg and his movie. "Shoah's," Claude Lanzmann believes Spielberg deliberately misportrays the Shoah, the repetition of which Lanzmann feels is a just question of time. Shoah experts who left Spielberg's fold during filming indicate that Spielberg was obsessed with creating a relatively happy ending, and when they resisted his view, they were removed.

Spielberg's choice of a soundtrack meant little to most audiences in the U.S., but elsewhere he made his standpoint quite clear when, at the close, he plays, "Jerusalem of Gold," a paean to the victory of Zionism in the 1967 Israeli war. The only audience in the world that did not hear this soundtrack was in Israel. Apparently Spielberg knew the audience would be appalled by his crass maneuver. Spielberg later withdrew the soundtrack.

"Schindler's List," avoids any mention of the anti-fascist resistance and the centripetal role communists played in its leadership. Within the vacuum of resistance, the film offers an anti-Semitic vision of Jews. The only developed Jewish characters are swindlers, collaborators, connivers: stereotypes. Working class Jews, as in all of anti-semitism, are fleeting vapors. In fact, the Soviet Red Army, which played the decisive role in both resistance to the Holocaust and in all of WWII, liberated the "Schindler Jews."

"Schindler's List," offers these lessons:

- Capitalism is good. "If I only made more money, I could have bought more of them."

- Forfeit your consciousness: Let a Nazi take care of you. "The list is the ultimate good."

- Stay away from the communists: A Red Army soldier urges the survivors west.

- God will take care of you: the religious service at the close.

These were key propellants for the rise of fascism in the first place. As a final irony, Schindler is buried in a Catholic churchyard in Israel. The Catholic Church was a pivotal player in the creation of Nazi ideology, and its social practice.

Spielberg treats fascism as a collective responsibility, but an other-worldly one, that is largely finished. In fact, the ceaseless thirst of capital for cheap labor, markets, and raw materials created fascism, and offered the Nazis the modern tools and science to implement it. Much of that science, like biological-determinist eugenics, originated in the United States, as did concentration camps for Indians. Collective responsibility ignores the fact that people fought back.

Capitalism created fascism. Fascism and genocide persist throughout the world today. In brief, fascism is: the direct rule of elites, organized racism, nationalism, mysticism, anti-communism, violence, a death culture, terror, and war. The answer to that is democracy and equality, overcoming the greedy and fearful demands of capital. These are the ideas that mobilized the collective violence that defeated fascism, ideas "Schindler's List," cannot help comprehend.

(San Diego State University, April 19, 2001)

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In the News

Another U.S. Attempted Coup

Actions in Canada in 2014 defend Venezuela's sovereignty.

During a televised speech February 4, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused officials at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas of conspiring to bribe people close to the Venezuelan government, including current and former ministers as well as military officials.

Venezuela has called on the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to work with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to mediate in the conflict between it and the U.S.

UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper visited Venezuela on February 5 to verify the claims that a coup conspiracy is afoot in Venezuela. Provided with evidence of the activities of U.S. diplomatic staff in Venezuela, Samper condemned in no uncertain terms the efforts to destabilize the country.

"I want to publicly reiterate the position of UNASUR, which is in the Letter of the Constitution endorsed in the Democratic Clause of the Treaty, which is absolutely clear and conclusive in noting that any destabilization effort that takes place in a democracy or any attempt to destabilize a government will meet with the unanimous rejection by the countries of UNASUR," Samper stated.

In related news, the President of the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), Gladys Gutirrez, announced on February 5 in a joint meeting with President Maduro, that the highest judicial body in the country will issue a statement rejecting the latest round of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government on Venezuela.

The U.S. imposed additional sanctions on Venezuela on February 2, that expand the number of Venezuelan government officials barred from entering the U.S.

"These restrictions will also affect the immediate family members of a number of those individuals subject to visa restrictions for believed involvement in human rights abuses or for acts of public corruption," said U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. She continued, "We will not publicly identify these individuals because of U.S. visa confidentiality laws, but we are sending a clear message that human rights abusers, those who profit from public corruption, and their families are not welcome in the United States."

Responding to this announcement, President Maduro pointed out that the U.S. lacks any moral authority to lecture other countries about human rights.

"They kill black youth in the street with impunity, they persecute and have concentration camps of Central American kids. [In Guantanamo], they have abducted dozens of citizens of the world under no known legal system, submitting them to torture and isolation," he said in a speech. "What human rights are they talking about?"

An official statement from the Venezuelan government categorically rejected the U.S. sanctions. It pointed out that the recent CELAC summit expressed its "deep rejection of the application of unilateral coercive measures contrary to International Law" and that the Southern Common Market and UNASUR have also urged the U.S. government to refrain from applying unilateral sanctions "that do not contribute to stability, social peace and democracy."

The Venezuelan government also deplored the continued U.S. attacks "that threaten respectful dialogue governing international performance of the Venezuelan government and violate the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights, and non-interference in internal affairs, intrinsic to International Law."

U.S. Vice President Accused of Planning Destabilization

On February 1, President Maduro informed that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had met in Washington, DC with some leaders of Latin American governments to get them to isolate Venezuela while the U.S. intensifies its destabilization efforts. The President was informed directly by other leaders at the recent CELAC summit in Costa Rica of Biden's meeting.

Maduro called on Venezuelans "to be alert, very alert, prepared, organized: the people's fighting blocs, the Bolivar-Chavez Battle Units, the community councils, the communes, the forces, rural workers, the workers, the women, the youth, the movements of sexual diversity, ecologists, everyone."

Canadian Involvement

On February 4, the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism held an event called "Venezuela in Crisis: The Decline of Democracy and the Repression of Human Rights." The aim was to spread disinformation about Venezuela. The "decline of democracy" is how the reactionaries describe their loss of elite privileges because of the people's empowerment. They object to the arrests of those suspected of inciting wanton violence and killings in 2014, in which anti-government groups took to the streets with firearms, Molotov cocktails and home-made bazookas to demand Maduro step down. Forty-three people were killed. About half of the casualties were government supporters, state security personnel and ordinary members of the public likely killed by anti-government groups, media reported at the time.

Those arrested for inciting this violence include opposition leader Leopoldo López. The Montreal event featured a relative and an ally of his. Also speaking at the event was Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, shamelessly billed as "the former lawyer of Nelson Mandela," to try to associate the resistance fighter Mandela and the fight against Apartheid with U.S.-backed terrorist activity in Venezuela.

(TeleSUR, Prensa Latina, Venezuelanalysis)

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Economic War Waged Against Venezuelan People

Parliamentarians in action to oppose the economic war against the people, Anzoategui state, January 20, 2015.

Part of the efforts by the U.S. and the traitorous reactionaries within Venezuela to create instability is to impede the normal functioning of the economy to create shortages and social unrest, which is then blamed on the government.

On January 21, during his annual address to the nation, President Maduro revealed an audio recording which is alleged to expose an opposition plot to sow chaos at supermarkets. In the recording, Ivan Carratu Molina, a security official under former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, and Jose de Jesus Gamez Bustamente, a retired Venezuelan general, discuss plans to generate violence and disorder in Venezuela and ultimately overthrow the government. Gamez trained at the U.S. "School of the Assassins" in Fort Benning, Georgia and claims to be an expert in psychological operations.

In the recording, Gamez says that the opposition will break supermarket windows to provoke looting and subsequent repression by the Venezuelan National Guard of the working-class people, the political base of the Bolivarian Revolution. Gamez suggests that violent street protests like those organized by the opposition last year will not work. He adds that the opposition should be promoted to the world as a peaceful movement, while actually hiding a violent agenda.

On January 22, TeleSUR published an item entitled, "The Truth Behind Shortages in Venezuela," which points out that the food shortages"are deliberately caused primarily by opposition sectors and private enterprises in order to cause destabilization.

"Corporate media outlets throughout the world have worked diligently to portray Venezuela as a country in the midst of an economic crisis. These outlets point to the shortages of basic goods in stores and the lines that sometimes occur for some products as evidence of this so-called crisis.

"Yet, these shortages appear to be part of a concerted action by members of the opposition to remove the democratically-elected government from power."

Referring to the plot by opposition figures revealed by President Maduro on January 21, TeleSUR says, "the events taking place in Venezuela today are eerily similar to those in Chile before the 1973 coup d'etat."

The TeleSUR article explains the nature of these shortages:

What Is Really Happening with Respect to Shortages?

For about two years, roughly since former President Hugo Chavez was hospitalized, there have been regular shortages of basic products such as milk, sugar, corn flour, and personal hygiene items. These products would be available on the shelves for a time but then disappear. Before elections, there would also be such shortages, but currently the situation has lasted longer. However, in this case, as in previous cases, while milk is hard to find, products derived from milk such as yogurt or cheese, are widely available.

The products also become scarce during other strategic times. From July to October of 2014 there were more than 9,000 registered cases of chikungunya in Venezuela, a virus spread by mosquitoes. Although there is no cure, its symptoms are often treated with acetaminophen, which helps relieve fever and discomfort. During this same period, acetaminophen was unavailable in stores. Insect repellant and insecticide also disappeared from the shelves.

What Products Suffer from Scarcity?

In Venezuela, the price of basic goods is regulated by the government, a routine practice in developing countries in order to ensure the population can afford essential items. The Venezuelan government introduced broader price controls in 2013 after it was revealed that vendors were selling many other goods at upwards of 200 percent above the actual cost.

When Chavez died, and then new presidential elections were called, scarcity increased. Rice, a regulated product, became difficult to find, while flavored rice was easily found. Regulated pasta, a product not previously regularly scarce, as well as cooking oil and milk, became difficult to find, while luxury, imported pasta was still available. This was the case with many regulated products, such as tuna and coffee.

For vendors, it became more profitable to sell the derived product rather than the basic good and if basic goods could not be found, then consumers would be forced to buy the more expensive option.

Who Controls Most of the Production of Goods in Venezuela?

Private enterprises control approximately 70 percent of production within Venezuela. As a group, those running these private enterprises have been historically opposed to the Venezuelan socialist model. These businesses are represented by Fedecamaras and Consecomercio, which both actively supported the failed 2002 coup against the late Venezuelan President Chavez. In fact, it was the head of Fedecamaras, Pedro Carmona Estanga, who briefly occupied the presidency after the coup.

Corporate media broadcast images of Venezuelans waiting in long lines to purchase goods in order to slander the Venezuelan government, claiming that government policies and regulation are to blame for the shortages. Much of this coverage fails to analyze the causes of the shortages, nor does it acknowledge that since the Bolivarian revolution began more low-income and working-class Venezuelans can afford goods than ever before. Unemployment in Venezuela is at 5.9 percent the lowest in 30 years while in the last 15 years, there have been 25 instances of increases in wages and pensions.

Shortages or Hoarding?

Coverage in international media also suggests that the shortages being experienced by Venezuelans are due to a lack of production of basic goods, however little attention is given to the cases where officials uncover the massive hoarding operations.

In 2014, more than 28,000 tons of food that were to be sold as contraband were seized. In January 2015, the Herrera company was found hoarding one ton of food and basic goods in one warehouse alone. At a separate location, this same company was found to have been hoarding essential goods for 45 days.

Spanish economist and the Director of the Strategic Latin American Geopolitical Center Alfredo Serrano explained that under the Bolivarian Revolution, initiated by former President Chavez and continued by his successor Nicolas Maduro, consumption became democratized. Venezuelans can now afford to purchase more than just basic goods. They can now purchase industrial products and electronics among other things.

However, as mentioned previously, the majority of food production is controlled by private enterprises, giving them control over what is and is not available in stores. State-produced products, because of overall shortages, are bought up as soon as they appear, and quickly become scarce. This situation places these enterprises in a position where they project themselves as indispensable, which puts them in the position to be able to engage in an economic war against the government. Venezuelans are made to think the government is to blame for the shortages.

Private enterprises closely aligned with the opposition in Venezuela, use the power at their disposal to put pressure on the government and create social tension in order to ripen conditions for plots to oust the democratically-elected government.

(TeleSUR, January 22, 2015)

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A Coup in Real Time

Venezuelans celebrate the Day of National Dignity, Caracas, February 4, 2015. This day commemorates the 1992 attempt by patriotic soldiers and civilians and led by Hugo Chávez, to bring an end to the neo-liberal policies of U.S.-backed President Carlos Andres Perez.

There is a coup underway in Venezuela. The pieces are all falling into place like a bad CIA movie. At every turn a new traitor is revealed, a betrayal is born, full of promises to reveal the smoking gun that will justify the unjustifiable. Infiltrations are rampant, rumors spread like wildfire, and the panic mentality threatens to overcome logic. Headlines scream danger, crisis and imminent demise, while the usual suspects declare covert war on a people whose only crime is being gatekeeper to the largest pot of black gold in the world.

This week, as the New York Times showcased an editorial degrading and ridiculing Venezuelan President Maduro, labeling him "erratic and despotic" ("Mr. Maduro in his Labyrinth," NYT, January 26, 2015), another newspaper across the Atlantic headlined a hack piece accusing the President of Venezuela's National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, and the most powerful political figure in the country after Maduro, of being a narcotics kingpin ("The head of security of the number two Chavista defects to the U.S. and accuses him of drug trafficking," ABC [Spain], January 27, 2015). The accusations stem from a former Venezuelan presidential guard officer, Leamsy Salazar, who served under President Chávez and was recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), now becoming the new "golden child" in Washington's war on Venezuela.

Two days later, the New York Times ran a front-page piece shaming the Venezuelan economy and oil industry, and predicting its downfall ("Oil Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare," NYT, January 29, 2015). Blaring omissions from the article include mention of the hundreds of tons of food and other consumer products that have been hoarded or sold as contraband by private distributors and businesses in order to create shortages, panic, discontent with the government and justify outrageous price hikes. Further, multiple ongoing measures taken by the government to overcome the economic difficulties were barely mentioned and completely disregarded.

Simultaneously, an absurdly sensationalist and misleading headline ran in several U.S. papers, in print and online, linking Venezuela to nuclear weapons and a plan to bomb New York City ("U.S. Scientist Jailed for Trying to Help Venezuela Build Bombs," NPR, January 30, 2015). While the headline leads readers to believe Venezuela was directly involved in a terrorist plan against the U.S., the actual text of the article makes clear that no Venezuelans were involved at all. The whole charade was an entrapment set up by the FBI, whose officers posed as Venezuelan officials to capture a disgruntled nuclear physicist who once worked at Los Alamos and had no Venezuela connection.

That same day, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the alleged "criminalization of political dissent" in Venezuela, when asked by a reporter about fugitive Venezuelan general Antonio Rivero's arrival in New York to plea for support from the United Nations Working Committee on Arbitrary Detention. Rivero fled an arrest warrant in Venezuela after his involvement in violent anti-government protests that led to the deaths of over 40 people, mainly government supporters and state security forces, last February. His arrival in the U.S. coincided with Salazar's, evidencing a coordinated effort to debilitate Venezuela's Armed Forces by publicly showcasing two high profile military officers -- both former Chávez loyalists -- that have been turned against their government and are actively seeking foreign intervention against their own country.

These examples are just a snapshot of increasing, systematic negative and distorted coverage of Venezuelan affairs in U.S. media, painting an exaggeratedly dismal picture of the country's current situation and portraying the government as incompetent, dictatorial and criminal. While this type of coordinated media campaign against Venezuela is not new -- media consistently portrayed former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, elected president four times by overwhelming majorities, as a tyrannical dictator destroying the country -- it is clearly intensifying at a rapid, and concerning, pace.

The New York Times has a shameful history when it comes to Venezuela. The Editorial Board blissfully applauded the violent coup d'etat in April 2002 that ousted President Chávez and resulted in the death of over 100 civilians. When Chávez was returned to power by his millions of supporters and loyal Armed Forces two days later, the Times didn't recant it's previous blunder, rather it arrogantly implored Chávez to "govern responsibly," claiming he had brought the coup on himself. But the fact that the Times has now begun a persistent, direct campaign against the Venezuelan government with one-sided, distorted and clearly aggressive articles -- editorials, blogs, opinion, and news -- indicates that Washington has placed Venezuela on the regime-change fast track.

The timing of Leamsy Salazar's arrival in Washington as an alleged DEA collaborator, and his public exposure, is not coincidental. This February marks one year since anti-government protests violently tried to force President Maduro's resignation, and opposition groups are currently trying to gain momentum to reignite demonstrations. The leaders of the protests, Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado, have both been lauded by the New York Times and other 'respected' outlets as "freedom fighters," "true democrats," and as the Times recently referred to Machado, "an inspiring challenger." Even President Obama called for López's release from prison (he was detained and is on trial for his role in the violent uprisings) during a speech last September at an event in the United Nations. These influential voices willfully omit López's and Machado's involvement and leadership of violent, undemocratic and even criminal acts. Both were involved in the 2002 coup against Chávez. Both have illegally received foreign funding for political activities slated to overthrow their government, and both led the lethal protests against Maduro last year, publicly calling for his ouster through illegal means.

The utilization of a figure such as Salazar who was known to anyone close to Chávez as one of his loyal guards, as a force to discredit and attack the government and its leaders is an old-school intelligence tactic, and a very effective one. Infiltrate, recruit, and neutralize the adversary from within or by one of its own -- a painful, shocking betrayal that creates distrust and fear amongst the ranks. While no evidence has surfaced to back Salazar's outrageous claims against Diosdado Cabello, the headline makes for a sensational story and another mark against Venezuela in public opinion. It also caused a stir within the Venezuelan military and may result in further betrayals from officers who could support a coup against the government. Salazar's unsubstantiated allegations also aim at neutralizing one of Venezuela's most powerful political figures, and attempt to create internal divisions, intrigue and distrust.

The most effective tactics the FBI used against the Black Panther Party and other radical movements for change in the United States were infiltration, coercion and psychological warfare. By inserting agents into these organizations, or recruiting from within, that were able to gain access and trust at the highest levels, the FBI was able to destroy these movements from the inside, breaking them down psychologically and neutralizing them politically. These clandestine tactics and strategies are thoroughly documented and evidenced in FBI and other U.S. government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and published in Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall's excellent book, "Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement" (South End Press, 1990).

Venezuela's world-renowned social missions ensure the people's well-being, including
their participation in the social and
political life of the country.

Venezuela is suffering from the sudden and dramatic plummet in oil prices. The country's oil-dependent economy has severely contracted and the government is taking measures to reorganize the budget and guarantee access to basic services and goods, but people are still experiencing difficulties. Unlike the dismal portrayal in the New York Times, Venezuelans are not starving, homeless or suffering from mass unemployment, as countries such as Greece and Spain have experienced under austerity policies. Despite certain shortages -- some caused by currency controls and others by intentional hoarding, sabotage or contraband -- 95% of Venezuelans consume three meals per day, an amount that has doubled since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is under 6% and housing is subsidized by the state.

Nevertheless, making Venezuela's economy scream is without a doubt a rapidly intensifying strategy executed by foreign interests and their Venezuelan counterparts, and it's very effective. As shortages continue and access to dollars becomes increasingly difficult, chaos and panic ensue. This social discontent is capitalized on by U.S. agencies and anti-government forces in Venezuela pushing for regime change. A very similar strategy was used in Chile to overthrow socialist President Salvador Allende. First the economy was destroyed, then mass discontent grew and the military moved to oust Allende, backed by Washington at every stage. Lest we forget the result: a brutal dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet that tortured, assassinated, disappeared and forced into exile tens of thousands of people. Not exactly a model to replicate.

This year President Obama approved a special State Department fund of $5 million to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. Additionally, the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy is financing Venezuelan opposition groups with over $1.2 million and aiding efforts to undermine Maduro's government. There is little doubt that millions more for regime change in Venezuela are being funneled through other channels that are not subject to public scrutiny.

President Maduro has denounced these ongoing attacks against his government and has directly called on President Obama to cease efforts to harm Venezuela. Recently, all 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations, members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), publicly expressed support for Maduro and condemned ongoing U.S. interference in Venezuela. Latin America firmly rejects any attempts to erode democracy in the region and will not stand for another U.S.-backed coup. It's time Washington listens to the hemisphere and stops employing the same dirty tactics against its neighbors.

Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code. She can be reached through her blog. [http://www.chavezcode.com]

(Counterpunch, February 02, 2015)

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European Central Bank Opposes
Greek Rejection of Austerity

Greece has warned it won't be "blackmailed" into backing down from revising harsh debt deals with its troika of creditors -- the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union, the TeleSUR news agency reports.

"The ECB fired its first artillery volley at the new Syriza government [on February 4] when it announced it would no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for loans to commercial banks.

"The decision will force the Greek central bank to pump commercial banks with fresh emergency cash before the ECB decision comes into effect on February 1," TeleSUR writes. "Until now, tens of billions in Greek government bonds and government-guaranteed bank bonds have been used as ECB loan security."

Gary Jenkins of LNG Capital, a London, UK-based asset management firm described the ECB decision as "a very large warning shot" across Greek bows.

"It is difficult to see this as anything other than a very aggressive move by the ECB. They did not need to do it now and whilst they can claim that they are following their rules they have often amended them during the crisis, as has the Eurozone as a whole," Jenkins said, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Greek government spokesperson Gavriil Sakellaridis responded to the ECB announcement saying that Athens will not be "blackmailed" into backing down from plans to roll back widely unpopular austerity measures.

Sakellaridis also assured the public that Greece's banking system remains stable, even as the Greek stock market fell nine per cent.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis vowed to revise the Greek debt agreement with the troika.

Greece will never dig itself out of debt unless it can raise productivity, Yaroufakis said. The country needs to go "cold turkey" and "We were elected to put an end to the addiction," he said.

(TeleSUR, Guardian)

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Investigation into Israel's Responsibility for Crimes Committed in Gaza

Another Attempt to Derail Commission of Inquiry

On February 3, William Schabas resigned his post as head of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. Schabas, a Canadian academic, was appointed in August 2014 by the head of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's offensive. The Inquiry was launched in large part because of the mass killings of civilians carried out by the occupying power for which the peoples of the world demand it be held to account.

In a letter to the Council, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent Israeli accusations from overshadowing the work of the Inquiry. In his letter of resignation, Schabas acknowledged that he received $1,300 for a legal opinion he wrote for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2012, adding that it was of a "technical legal nature" drawn from previously published scholarly work. He defended his record and denied the accusations of bias, saying that as a scholar involved in international human rights, he had "regularly condemned perpetrators of violations."

"This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks," Schabas wrote, adding that he was resigning to avoid any distractions while the commission finished its "decisive stage" of work in preparing its report and findings. These are to be presented at the upcoming session of the UNHRC on March 23.

A February 3 press release from the UNHRC, acknowledged Schabas' letter of resignation. It stated in part:

"This letter follows one sent to the Council President [Joachim Ruecker] on Friday, 30 January, by the Permanent Mission of Israel in which they ask for Professor Schabas' dismissal from the Commission of Inquiry due to what they refer to as a conflict of interest.

"The President has accepted the resignation of Professor Schabas and thanks him for his work over the past six months as Chair of the Commission. The President respects the decision of Professor Schabas and appreciates that in this way even the appearance of a conflict of interest is avoided, thus preserving the integrity of the process.

"[... T]the Commission is now in the final phase of collecting evidence from as many victims and witnesses as possible from both sides. [...]

"The President is currently in discussions with the remaining two members of the Commission of Inquiry to discuss the appointment of the new Chairperson.

"Ambassador Ruecker underlines the need to remain focused on the substantive work of the Commission in the interest of the victims and their families on both sides."

Schabas' resignation was immediately used by the Zionists to try to scuttle the Inquiry, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on the UN to cancel the Inquiry. Netanyahu claims the Council is "an anti-Israeli body that has nothing to do with human rights" and that the Council "should be shelved."

He reiterated Israel's position that its brutal mass killing of some 2,200 Gazans, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children, was not a war crime but self-defence warranted by rocket fire into the south of Israel that killed six Israeli civilians. Netanyahu claimed that Israel's mass killings of civilians were carried out "in accordance with international law."

The statement from Netanyahu denies the fact that Israel's actions were witnessed by the world's peoples, including the Israelis themselves. On January 28, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem), released a 49-page report entitled "Black Flag," accusing the Israeli government of employing a deliberate policy of launching air strikes on residential buildings during the war in Gaza, and violating the rules of war. The B'Tselem report concludes, "What is clear is that the policy described in this report -- attacking homes from the air and the ground, resulting in their collapse with residents still inside -- is not a legitimate response to these challenges [of fighting Hamas]. Even if political and military leaders thought this policy would bring an end to attacks on Israeli communities, they should not have implemented it both because of its foreseeable horrifying consequences as well as because of the black flag of illegality flying over it."

(With files from Guardian, Xinhua, B'tselem)

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Israeli Attack on Gaza Was "Massive State Terror"

Richard Falk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, spoke to the Electronic Intifada in Berkely, California about Israel's attacks on Gaza last summer which he regards "as a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza." He said the aftermath is no less than "catastrophic." He also gave his analysis of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Falk is the author of the recently published book Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope. The transcript of the interview with Falk follows:

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Let's begin by talking about Gaza -- reconstruction has still yet to begin, tens of thousands of people are sheltering as best they can through these harsh winter months, and infrastructure is still in need of basic reconstruction as well. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, you called Israel's sealing of the exit points around Gaza "a new kind of war crime," as people were unable to flee the violence meted out by Israel, and it was repeated again over the summer.

Give us your assessment, from your perspective as a longtime scholar and analyst on Palestine, of what we saw over the summer and what we see now.

Richard Falk: Well, I think what we see now is a humanitarian emergency of the highest order, which is worse than normal humanitarian emergencies because it comes after this catastrophic attack of the summer, which I regard as a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza.

One shouldn't measure the human loss just by the [number of] people killed and wounded; the entire population was subject to this terroristic warfare. And from what I've heard, as many as 425,000 children in Gaza are needing treatment for severe stress. So one needs to grasp the magnitude of this occurrence which really has to be viewed, in my opinion, as an atrocity of the first order.

NBF: Our contributor, Patrick O. Strickland, reported that "During and after the military offensive, Israel and Egypt have denied human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as UN investigators, access to Gaza," including your successor at the UN as well, to conduct research into probable war crimes. What can be done in terms of holding Israel accountable if it's refusing to be transparent?

RF: Well, it's, of course, understandable from Israel's point of view that it would like to suppress this story to the extent that it can. The Human Rights Council appointed a commission of inquiry headed by William Schabas, a well-respected international criminal law professor. Whether they follow the same route that the Goldstone report followed back in 2009 is not clear yet, but it's a high-quality commission, and the evidence seems overwhelming as to the commission of massive war crimes.

So one hopes that it will produce an authoritative report that will be accepted -- [even though it will] then probably be blocked by the US using what I call it's geo-political veto, which in a way is more sinister than the constitutional veto, because it's done behind closed doors without acknowledgment, without debate, but it successfully prevents the UN from any kind of behavioral follow-up to its symbolic delegitimation of what Israel did in the summer.

NBF: And meanwhile, international civil society is gaining more and more momentum, especially since the summer attacks, in terms of growing the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns either on college campuses or around local communities. Can you talk about the role that civil society plays now, as international bodies including the UN continue to be unable to hold Israel accountable themselves?

RF: I think the growth of the civil society role is a combination of the moral outrage associated with the kinds of experiences that were associated with the Gaza attacks combined with the discrediting of the Oslo diplomatic approach, the collapse of the Kerry talks, the sense that Israel has been gaining while Palestine loses through this indefinite delay of any kind of meaningful developments. The settlements have expanded, the separation wall was built, the settler-only roads have been constructed. So it's a kind of land-grabbing facilitated by a diplomatic process that excluded the relevance of international law from the negotiations.

So in this discrediting of diplomacy, the turn by the Palestinians to nonviolence and the growth of the global civil society movement is a new reality, I think, in the Palestinian struggle. And it's impressively expanding, especially in Europe, but here in America also. And I think the hope that Palestinians have at this point is very much tied to the shift in leadership from the people in Ramallah to the people who are representing the Palestinians in civil society.

NBF: Richard, talk about your book, Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope -- what it's about, and what compelled you to write it at this point?

RF: Well, it represents my thinking about the conflict over these past six years, partly the experience I had at the UN, and partly as someone who was trying to comment on the developments through a blog that I maintained with some consistency. The real argument of the book is the unacknowledged turn to nonviolence by the Palestinians, including Hamas, and a kind of inquiry into why the media has failed to note this shift, and some of the brave undertakings by Palestinians through hunger strikes and other forms of nonviolent resistance.

It's a very, I think, important progression in the Palestinian struggle, which started out in its early phase with reliance on the Arab neighbors to liberate Palestine, and then shifted for a period to armed struggle. And in between these two phases, relied on the UN and the international community, because it passed these resolutions that confirmed the legitimacy of Palestinian grievances, but nothing happened. And then came the diplomacy, and now this new phase that in my wildest dreams will eventuate in what I call a global intifada.

NBF: Talk more about that, what would that look like?

RF: Well, it really would look like a dramatic intensification of what's already happening, but it would create the impression that there was a popular mobilization that was creating such a new reality that the Israeli leadership would have to recalculate its own interests -- which is what I interpret happened in South Africa. It wasn't a sudden moral transformation of this racist leadership, it was the feeling that they would be better off coming to terms with the opposition and allowing a multi-racial constitutional democracy to emerge than they would maintaining the apartheid structure.

Israel, in one way, has an easier path, because the white elite in South Africa was faced with a five to one African majority. Israel would probably be close to parity in terms of population, and because it has such a stranglehold on the economy and the diplomatic infrastructure of world politics, the danger for the Palestinians would be that such a transformation would just replicate, in another form, the present kinds of Israeli domination.

Why I use the word "hope" and the discourse of hope is that the situation is uncertain enough in relation to the future to create the moral and political foundation for being committed to the struggle. And that's the most that we can achieve, to be optimistic about the Palestinian prospects is to pretend a knowledge that we can't really possess.

What we can say is that most of the struggles since the end of World War II have, in the end, been won by the side that controls the moral and legal argument -- not the side that has the better military capability. All the anti-colonial wars were won by the weaker side, militarily. And the United States should have learned this lesson in Vietnam itself, where it completely dominated the military dimensions of the conflict, and yet lost the war. The Afghans say "you have the watches, we have the time," which is a way of expressing the perseverance of a struggle on the part of people who have everything to lose by surrendering, and the opposite side, the dominating or oppressive side, has a lot to gain by compromising.

If you analyze it in that way, there is I think solid reason to be hopeful enough to stay engaged in the struggle.

(Electronic Intifada, January 9, 2015)

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