Another Tack: Sabine’s misrepresented murder
by Sarah Honig
Communism is purportedly gone, yet Russia tenaciously clings to the wrong side of history.
By August 11, 1942, pioneer psychoanalyst Sabine Spielrein must have ditched all illusions about German civility. On that day, she and her daughters – accomplished cellist Renate, 28, and promising violinist Eva, 18 – were, like thousands of other horrified Jews, force-marched through the central streets of the Russian city of Rostov- on-Don. They were herded toward Zmiyevskaya Balka (Snake Gully), where they were soon shot, together with many Red Army POWs.
Thus – ignominiously and brutally – ended the tempestuous 57-year life of a strong-willed woman, exceptionally independent and nonconformist for her time. In Western cultural enclaves, she’s sporadically remembered (in books, plays and films) for her affair with one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Carl Jung...
After the Soviet Union’s fall, the Russian Jewish Congress put up a plaque commemorating Jewish victims at the Zmiyevskaya Balka mass grave of 27,000 – known as Russia’s Babi Yar. That plaque was recently removed and arbitrarily replaced with a new marker, which, in the style of the defunct USSR, identifies the dead only as “peaceful citizens of Rostov-on- Don and Soviet prisoners-of-war.”
No rationale is given for why certain Soviet citizens were targeted by the Nazis. Moreover, no mention is made of slain Jewish refugees from Poland, who were decidedly not Soviet citizens.
It’s as if Jews were never there and none were annihilated because of their Jewishness.
This isn’t an instance of localized hardheartedness.
It’s commonplace throughout the former USSR, and not only in Russia. Its roots reach deep and explain as much about today’s Russia as about past Soviet idiosyncrasies and why they persist.
The Soviets spawned their own singular version of Holocaust-denial. They didn’t deny the carnage; they merely obfuscated the identity of whom Hitler singled out for systematic extermination. Thus according to the official Soviet version, there never was specific anti-Jewish butchery in Nazi-ruled Soviet territory.
There was heroic resistance against German occupiers in which Soviet citizens were callously massacred.
The distinct Jewish tragedy is obscured by submerging it in the overall wartime narrative (which fails to dwell on the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact).
LITTLE WONDER, then, that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) authored his Holocaust-denial treatise at Moscow’s communist-era Russian University for Friendship between People (a.k.a. the People’s Friendship University of Russia, also a.k.a. the Patrice Lumumba Friendship University).
There Abbas specialized in revising history, an endeavor that in 1982 ripened into a PhD dissertation that both denied the Holocaust and blamed Zionists for it. Two years later, Dr. Abbas further expanded and embellished his “research.” He never apologized or retracted a single nuance of his learned thesis. Neither did today’s Russia ever censure the state-sanctioned fraud.
The mendacity lives on. Abbas personally and the PA media he controls consistently glorify terrorist atrocity-perpetrators, who with Nazi-like zeal lust after Jewish blood. Palestinian Media Watch, for example, revealed that Abbas’s PATV broadcast greetings and praise to the Fogel family’s slaughterers, tried and imprisoned in Israel.
Hakim Awad’s mother sent “greetings to dear Hakim, the apple of my eye, who carried out the operation in Itamar.” His aunt extolled “Hakim Awad, the hero, the legend.” The TV host effusively concurred.
Last March, Hakim and Amjad Awad invaded the Fogel home in Itamar and knifed to death a father, mother and three youngsters (aged 11, four and three months). At the time, Russian-educated Abbas insisted Arabs were incapable of such bestiality. Yet now Abbas’s media turns convicted baby-killers into national heroes and role models.
BUT NOT only does Soviet-like duplicity endure and thrive in Abbas’s latifundia; it takes on sinister incarnations in Russia.
It was convenient at the height of the Cold War to ascribe Moscow’s malevolence solely to communist machinations. But communism is purportedly gone, while Russia tenaciously clings to the wrong side of history, as in its obdurate defense of Damascus despot Bashar Assad and its outright assistance in constructing Iran’s nuclear facilities, to say nothing of its ongoing opposition to stringent sanctions against Tehran’s ayatollahs...
The plain fact of the matter is that Russia still offers succor to the Jewish people’s worst enemies. It emits exceedingly troublesome vibes. It reverts to type – be it in critical geopolitical maneuverings or in just expunging the unique Jewish Holocaust from its chronicles. It’s in this inimical ambiance that the mass-murder of Jews at Zmiyevskaya Balka can be misrepresented.
Russian parliamentarian Tamara Pletneva condescendingly advises Jews to “forget the bitterness and live in peace.... The memorial should commemorate all the war victims.... So why single out Jews?” Perhaps because the Nazis singled them out. Despite rampant Pletneva-type portrayals of yesteryear’s Jews as incidental victims and of present-day Jews as obsessively parochial, the only reason that Sabine and millions of fellow ill-fated Jews were put to death was that they were Jews.
In 1913, when Sabine was expecting her first child, Freud wrote her, expressing the hope that the baby “will develop into a stalwart Zionist.” He added: “We are and remain Jews. The others will only exploit us and will never understand or respect us.”
There is a message here for the Jewish state almost a century later.