Lionizing Fascism Disrespects the Holocaust

Friday, May 8, 2020, marked 75 years since World War Two victory in Europe Day, or, VE Day, when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe, leading to the end of the war.

Despite the Coronavirus restrictions, nations celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory over fascism. People and their nations must be worthy of the great sacrifice made by our great-grandfathers’ generation who fought the battles and won them.

I am an Israeli citizen, the grandson of a former officer in the Soviet army, of whom I am very proud, and love.

My grandfather, along with being part of the victory sidestepped the Holocaust, the colossal, devastating tragedy the Jewish people experienced during this war. My grandfather, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust only survived the catastrophe because at the time his relatives were being sent to their death he was fighting the war, defending his homeland, but could not protect his family.

On May 9, 2020, the current Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan posted on Facebook a photo of his grandfather, Nikol Pashinyan, with the caption: “Nikol Pashinyan, 1913-1943. He served in the 554th Infantry Regiment of the 138th Infantry Division. Eternal glory to the fallen for their homeland.”

This post puzzled me because, as it turned out, Armenia’s Prime Minister’s grandfather collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War. As APA the agency publishes news in the Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages wrote: Collaboration of Nikol Pashinyan’s grandfather with fascists revealed,” citing the information disseminated by Armenia’s iravunk.am website.

Lionizing Fascism Disrespects the Holocaust 1
Nzhdeh ID – Photo credit XƏBƏRİMİZ VAR

One cannot help but recall the words of the Republic of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, at the Ashgabat CIS summit, when Armenia’s “democratic” leader, Pashinyan, tried and failed to compare the fascist Nzhdeh with the Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

“The former Armenian establishments erected a monument, in the center of Yerevan, in honor of the fascist executioner and traitor Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, who served with the German fascists under the nickname Garegin Nzhdeh. Unfortunately, Armenia’s new government did not dismantle this monument. I believe that there is no place glorification for fascism in the CIS,” Azerbaijan’s president emphasized.

I believe that President Aliyev, the leader he is, is the first among all the CIS countries’ presidents to have told the Prime Minister of Armenia that his country has been engaged, for many years, in glorifying the fascist and anti-Semite Garegin Nzhdeh.

A sovereign nation’s people have the right to interpret their history and memorialize whomever they designate to be their national heroes. However, we should not be silent, we must speak up when a person who was involved in the crimes perpetrated during the Holocaust becomes some nation’s national hero.

How can we, Israeli-Jews, react to the monument, erected three years ago in Yerevan, commemorating the anti-Semite, fascist-Nazi accomplice Garegin Nzhdeh? The drawn-out commemoration of the Armenian fascist and anti-Semite General Garegin Nzhdeh is a disgrace, an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. For me personally, whose grandfather lost all members of his family to the Nazis’ atrocities in the Ukraine, this is irredeemable emotional pain.

It is no longer a hushed secret that the ideology of fascism and glorification of Armenian fascists and Nazis, all who worked closely with Nazi Germany, are being promoted at the state level in Armenia.

The propagation of fascism, Antisemitism and neo-Nazis has become an integral part of Armenia’s state policy, a country located in the South Caucasus. What is even more outrageous is that fascist ideology called “Nzhdehism” is included in Armenia’s educational institutions’ curriculum and generations are brought up on these “values.”

Attesting to this claim is the fact that both the former President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and the former Minister of Defense, Seyran Ohanyan, took part in the fascist and anti-Semite General Garegin Nzhdeh monument’s ribbon cutting ceremony. At the same time, on WWII Victory Day, Armenia’s current Prime Minister Pashinyan publically exposed a photo of his grandfather, a collaborator with fascists, which, once again confirms that both Armenia’s former and current leaders consider themselves to be the genuine heirs of Armenian fascist and anti-Semite Nzhdeh.

The Jewish people will never forget the cruel acts committed by the twenty thousand Armenian legionnaires, led by fascist Nzhdeh, during the Second World War. The purpose of the Armenian legion, led by General Nzhdeh, was to raid their homes and destroy the life of Jews, as well as others “objectionable” to the German army people. Historic archival documents confirm this fact. It was ‘thanks’ to the Armenian legion that the towns Simferopol, Yevpatoria, Alushta, Kerch and Feodosia, as well as other areas of Western Crimea, were completely expunged of Jews.

It is, therefore, required of us not to be apathetic to the way modern Armenia elevates the Armenian fascist and anti-Semite Nzhdeh to the rank of national hero. Modern Armenia’s policy can be seen as a time bomb. Young people who grow up on such ideology will continue to live according to fascism and neo-Nazis. Armenia’s state policy displays extreme disrespect for the millions of people who died fighting fascism in World War II. Disrespecting their relatives and surviving veterans, especially citizens of the former USSR who fought with exceptional virtue to win victory over fascism.

Really, do the Armenians not have other heroes to commemorate but the fascist Nzhdeh?

Story by Arye Gut, edited for NewsBlaze by Nurit Greenger.

Arye Gut is a commentator on Israeli public TV and radio on Azerbaijan-Israeli and Israel-Turkish relations, who also regularly writes at the Jerusalem Post.