In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Hitler fascism, a new Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe opened in Berlin May 10.

It is a memorial to the 6 million Jews who were systematically, horrifyingly exterminated by the Nazis, giving rise to the new term, “genocide.”

The memorial has provoked controversy for its omission of other victims of the Nazi killing machine, including a million or more communists and other political prisoners, hundreds of thousands of gypsies, the disabled, and gays and lesbians.

Paul Spiegel, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, expressed reservations about the memorial, calling it “an incomplete statement.” By excluding non-Jewish victims, Spiegel said, the memorial suggests a “hierarchy of suffering,” when in reality “pain and mourning are great in all afflicted families.”

Nevertheless, the memorial is a reminder that such crimes must never be allowed to happen again.

But as it was being unveiled, President Bush was busy dismissing the significance of the victory over fascism, and disparaging the decisive role played by the Soviet Union in that victory. In a speech in Latvia, Bush bemoaned the Soviet liberation of Eastern Europe from fascism, lumping the Soviet role together with that of Hitler Germany.

In so doing, Bush in effect is a Holocaust denier. He is diminishing and denying the monstrous crimes of Nazism – the gas chambers, the “Arbeit Macht Frei” death camps, the ghoulish experiments on humans, in short, the barbaric extermination of entire populations, using pseudo-scientific racial, genetic and anticommunist “big lies.”

Bush’s attempt to rewrite history is a calculated part of his own criminal policies — of militarism, nuclear first-strike, torture, and racist, ethnic and national chauvinism. As he prattles about “humane foreign policy,” his administration is blocking the worldwide call at the United Nations to abolish nuclear weapons.

Those who care about humanity do well to heed the words of Holocaust survivor Sabina van der Linden at the memorial opening. “What have I learned?” she asked. “I have learned that hatred begets hatred. I have learned that we must not remain silent and that each of us must fight discrimination, racism and inhumanity.’’

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