Pro Karelia ry
EDVINS SNORE AND THE SOVIET STORY
Edvins Snore is a 35-year old Latvian researcher who has a master’s degree in political sciences. He is a director who has written and directed a movie – The Soviet Story – which has acclaimed reputation all over the world. In his movie his sheds light on the dark side of World War II which The Soviet Union and Russia have tried to budge into the oblivion of the history.
Pro Karelia has presented The Soviet Story in about ten towns in Finland where it has gathered an interested audience, leaving the audience silent.
On the contrary, the movie has aroused loud reactions and acts of hatred in certain circles which sympathize the era of Stalin’s red terror all the way to bringing up lawsuits against Pro Karelia.
In Russia, bringing forth the truth was unbearable, and even a dummy figure of Edvins Snore has been burned in public in the streets of Moscow
The Soviet Story is apparently one reason why Russia now insists on telling the truth of WW II by introducing a specific, so-called anti-fascist law. An interview of Edvins Snore in Baltezers, near Riga, Latvia tells about the grounds and aims of the movie.
- The film has been quite widely distributed around the world, both Eastern and Western Europe, and the United States. The movie premiered in the European Parliament. We wanted the message to reach the entire world, but specifically the west. We know our history and the crimes of the Soviet Union, but for the west, they are not familiar.
I am very delighted about the popularity the movie has gained and I hope it has made a difference, particularly in the west. I observe lots of reactions and receive emails from various individuals. They tend to tell that the movie teaches them new things of which they were never aware of.
The schools only taught of the victorious allies, and that the Nazi Germany was evil. They did not know that one of the allied, the Soviet Union, was a corrupt government which killed several millions more people than did the nazis.
I should think that the change that has taken place is a psychological one and that people begin gradually to understand. It is important to make films, not just books and articles. The crimes committed by the nazis, the holocaust and the genocide are well understood in the west. This is because there exist films which prove those. People get to see the genocides and the atrocities on a film, such as the horrible images from rescued concentration camps in 1945.
There are, however, no films of the GULAG, because it had never been liberated. The inmates who got there, mostly never returned. There is but one episode from 1942 when hundreds of thousands Poles were hauled to gulags during 1939-1940 while the Russians conquered the half of Poland.
When the nazis attacked the Soviet Union they came up with an idea. The Polish people were released from the GULAG and shipped west. There they would meet the British who, in turn, would take photos of them. Despite feeding the prisoners before release, it was possible to see the starving corpses of the gulag prisoners.
There never has been filmed material in west about the GULAG which is why you may speak of 20 million casualties, and it means nothing to them.
When the atrocities are shown, and when the victims tell about their miseries, it forms a visual and emotional image and brings forth emotions. Unless there are emotions, there will be no compassion nor activity. It is possible to think that it is something evil but it is difficult to compare it to the atrocities committed by the nazis.
The change within Europe, and within European organizations (EC, EP) is really taking place. I can see that. Still, a few years back when the Baltic countries arranged a common anniversary of the deportations, they invited the president of the European Parliament to attend. He never showed up.
The delegation presented the EP a portray plate to remember these atrocities and to pay respect to the victims. Few years back a journalist asked to see the plate. But they could not find it, it was stored somewhere in the basement and forgotten. This is a small but very typical gesture. I cannot imagine that a plate commemorating the victims of the nazis would and could not have been lost. The attitude towards the victims of communism was nothing less of neglect.
Nowadays the resolutions of the European organizations condemn the communist crimes and regimes. The change has happened, and while the current president of the EU Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering was here in Latvia, he said that a communist regime is a criminal regime and it should be condemned.
How do we get to the next level in adopting to these things? As I see it, the most important thing is to inform people of what took place. People in both east and west are ignorant of these affairs. Russia does its best in order to nullify the distribution of information.
They don’t want the world to know about the atrocities of the Soviet Union such as the mass murder of Katyn. They can’t deny it, but they wish not to get to the bottom of it because it would not bring glory to the Red Army.
History is just not the glory of the Red Army which is why it is important to inform people what really happened. When people are well-informed, the change will take place naturally. People from all wlaks of life, politicians, the youth, people in various positions will understand and arrive to the right conclusions.
It is not a secret that it was people who committed these Soviet atrocities. These people should be placed responsible for their acts. Many of them are still alive. It is not right that these people are alive and receive badges of honor while e.g. Latvian GULAG victims lead a miserable life.
I have met those who have been not just prisoners, but who have been on the concentration camps working on the arctic circle. Many of them are invalids. Now they still have to lead miserable life because they do not have money to buy medicine or sometimes even food.
Russia does not pay them pension or any other form of support, while it continues to financially support NKVD/KGB concentration camp guards.
There has been a manhunt of nazi criminals, and they have been brought to justice, which I feel is right. Only the same thing should be done to those criminals who worked for NKVD and KGB.
At the moment I have no concrete plans of making more films. Most of my energy is consumed by research. I’m in the process of making a doctoral thesis on western reactions to the famine of Ukraine in 1930’s. It’s a quite uncharted territory and a neglected subject.
The west has had this certain attitude that when there has been progress in the east, the west has kept silent. This has led to many horrific things, such as the genocide of Ukraine.
I should think that the win-win concept is a decent one, and I agree. It may just be what it takes to have the Soviet criminal face the court. Deep down it does not boil down to revenge. Rather, it is meant to easy the life of those who already have suffered.
It also serves the best interest of this nation. I don’t think that e.g. sentencing Dzintars (a Latvian KGB worker) as a criminal would hurt Latvia as a nation to the slightest bit. It is exactly equal to nazi criminals. Who thinks that suing them somehow would hurt Germany? Nobody feels that way.
This is why I can’t even begin to understand why the people who rule Russia think that charging Soviet criminals would harm Russia. As I wrote in my article to Pro Karelia, it may not be a wonder given that the rulers have KGB background.
If you should visit the web site of FSB, they list their leaders stemming from Dzersinsky, Ezhov, Beria. They themselves think that it still remains the same organization. Nobody has been convicted because there has been no change in Russia. This is why they are perfectly unwilling according to the spirit of justice, because they would have to make their own to face the court.
One ironic angle to the Soviet crimes is that the United States provided the Soviet Union an enormous amount of material support as so-called Lend-Lease Aid [converted to current rate as a burden for today’s economy, it would amount to $2,000 Billion].
The irony of the help is that a great deal of weapons, goods, and food provided to the Soviet Union were used to commit war crimes. One example of this is the genocidal deportations of a number of ethnic groups (Checens, Crimean Tartars, etc.) in 1944, which used extensively American-provided transport and equipment.
A book, “The Forsaken”, written by Tim Tzouliadis tells about American communists who left for Russia in the 1930’s. They wound up in the GULAG.
There is an episode in the book from the year 1944 when the Vice President of the United Sates, Henry Wallace, made a visit to the death camp of Kolyma. The Russians built the GULAG a stage not seen since “The Potemkin villidge”. The Vice President returned home assuring everyone that everything is all right. People volunteered to work there hard.
Lend-Lease products shipped via Alaska mostly ended up in the GULAG. There is a striking episode in the “The Foresaken” of how the starving prisoners observe NKVD-guards eating American tinned food, and receiving nothing of it.
The change of which Edvins Snore addresses has begun also in Finland. Finlandization is gradually subsiding and an open review of the past war gains momentum. There is still plenty to do before the convictions of those found guilty of war crimes have been reverted, and the return of Karelia and other occupied territories has happened.
This is work which requires the support of every patriotic Finn. The work of Edvins Snore supports this line of work in Finland, and on the other hand, the work of the Finns lends support to achieving the goals he pursues in the Baltic countries.
Additional information: Veikko Saksi
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