A TALE OF TWO GENOCIDES
PUBLISHED: 26th December, 2019 | By MATT MARSHALL
Recently in the Canadian news, there was a bit of a kerfuffle. It seems a lecturer at the University of Alberta by the name of Dougal MacDonald had posted some rather controversial Facebook posts. Apparently he denied a brutal genocide of millions of people carried out by a tyrannical government. No, it isn’t the one you think. Mr. Macdonald drew considerable ire for denying the Ukrainian Holomdor.
The Holomdor was a horrific famine that occurred in the Ukrainian SSR, then part of the USSR, between 1932-33. It began with a bad harvest in 1932, which led to the Soviet authorities enacting a rationing system in the area. Both rural and urban areas were greatly affected. Not wanting to let a crisis distract from class warfare, contemporary Soviet propaganda tried to blame it all on 'counterrevolutionary peasants' hoarding grain from everyone else. In 1933, reports began to trickle in from central Ukraine of deaths and mass malnutrition caused by the famine. Of course, the Soviet authorities figured this would be a good time to cut a number of people off from the rations, leading to more deaths. The famine spread eastwards and was accompanied by outbreaks of typhus and malaria, with plague ravaging already weakened bodies. Kiev, Kharkiv and Odessa were the worst affected, but the famine spread as far as Moldova. The death toll reached Old Testament levels and the suffering was inhuman. People walked past emaciated corpses on the streets. Banditry and thievery exploded as neighbours robbed and killed each other for a mere loaf of bread. Woman became prostitutes for basic foodstuffs. Most horrible of all, thousands turned to cannibalism to survive. There are many proven cases of parents killing their own children and eating them. In the twisted logic of such times, some parents even justified these actions as sparing their children from a slower death from starvation. Not surprisingly, hundreds also committed suicide.
The exact causes of the famine are debated, but I think it was a mixture of a bad harvest, the severe ineptitude of Stalin’s collectivization programs, and the murderous hatred for so-called 'counter-revolutionaries' in the Ukraine. Ukraine was not the only area hit with famine in this time period, with Kazakhstan in particular also suffering horribly. However in Ukraine, the reaction to the famine was particularly pitiless. Suffering farmers had their land seized and were deported to Siberia. Those trying to escape the affected zones were shot. And of course, thousands were cut off rations. The total death toll in Ukraine is generally accepted at around 3 million, but some historians argue it could be much higher.
The Holomdor is controversial to say the least in modern politics. It was greatly denied at the time by the USSR although Western journalists did manage to get some idea of what was going on. It was a major feature of Axis propaganda in the Second World War, and unsurprisingly remains a rallying cry for Ukrainian nationalists. In 2003, the government of Ukraine declared the Holomdor a genocide and criminalised denial of it. The government of Russia contests this, arguing that it was part of the many famines across the Soviet Union in 1932-33 that were horrific but not targeted against specific ethnicities. Much of Europe (although not the United Kingdom or Germany), Canada, the Vatican, Israel, the United States, Australia and some Latin American countries all recognize it as a genocide. After Ukraine itself, Canada has a particular connection to the Holomodor. We have a large Ukrainian immigrant population and the first monument to victims of the Holomodor was erected in 1983 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Which brings us to Dougal MacDonald. MacDonald is a part-time lecturer at the University of Alberta (on what specifically I’m not sure, but I can hazard a guess you wouldn’t want to be in his class). MacDonald also ran as a candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, one of the two main communist parties in Canada. The MLPC is the more extreme of the two, basically being unelectable cheerleaders for the Castro regime in Cuba. MacDonald specifically stated that it was 'lies' that the Holomdor was a deliberate genocide. MacDonald’s views on the Holomdor led to protests by the Ukrainian Student Union and numerous calls from many sections for his removal. The University has stated that while it does not support these statements, they are being made privately and not as part of his job as a lecturer. This, his defenders might argue, is the difference between MacDonald and James Keegstra, an Albertan high school teacher who was removed of his post and successfully charged with teaching his students that the holocaust never happened and that Jews subverted Christianity. But there is a third case here. A man who was not a lecturer or teacher, denied a genocide and was imprisoned for his 'crime'. An otherwise very unremarkable fellow named Ernest Zundel.
Ernst Zundel was born in the town of Calmbach in Germany in 1939, and mostly his mother raised him as his father was off serving in the Wehrmacht during WWII. At age 19, he immigrated to Canada, allegedly to avoid conscription in the West German Army. He married a Quebecois woman, had a moderately successful career as an artist and photographer, ran for Liberal Party leadership and in the 1970s campaigned for an organization called the 'Concerned Parents of German Descent' which argued against what it saw as negative stereotypes of Germans in Canadian media. He was still practically an unknown until Canadian journalist and columnist Mark Bonokoski revealed that Zundel wrote National Socialist pamphlets under the pseudo name Christof Friedrich. Zundel was also outed as the head of a National Socialist publishing house called Samisdat Publishers that was relatively successful, mainly selling pamphlets and books to the United States and West Germany. After these revelations, Canada and seemingly the world would go to war with this virtual nobody over his fringe political sympathies.
Firstly the West German government seized Zundel’s books and pamphlets and other materials that crossed into their borders. Then in 1981, the Canadian government suspended Zundel’s ability to ship for two years. In the same year, there was correspondence between the West German government and the Canadian Jewish Congress, confirming that much of the National Socialist material in West Germany was Zundel’s. Things were only just beginning though. Former Auschwitz inmate and author Sabina Citron brought a human rights complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In 1984, the government of the province of Ontario backed her up and Zundel was charged for publishing 'fake news'. I’m not joking, that was literally the charge. Zundel was in the docks twice more in 1985 and 1988, in trials that made holocaust denial and the historical debate around it a worldwide sensation. The Supreme Court of Canada, who argued that criminalizing speech went against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, finally acquitted Zundel in 1992. Surely that was the end of the whole ridiculous mess, right?
Nope. Zundel was investigated again (although not put on trial), by the Human Rights Tribunal in the late 1990s. He decided to move to the United States to be with his third wife. In 2003, he was deported to Canada for overstaying his visa, something Zundel argued was a trumped up charge. He was then detained and deported from Canada, because amazingly Zundel had only ever had landed immigrant legal status and was not a Canadian citizen. The Canadian government actually branded him a threat to national security. Excuse my derisive laughter. One look at ol’ Ernest and you can tell the only threat he poses is to a slow-moving schnitzel. Zundel’s predicament did however lead both far-right and far-left groups to public clashes as several far-right Canadian groups staged public protests over his treatment. During this whole time, Zundel was placed in solitary confinement. In 2005, Zundel was deported to Germany and immediately arrested for “inciting racial hatred” on the basis that his materials (including his website) had been read by Germans, breaking German holocaust denial laws. I wish I were making this up. It took till 2007, before Zundel was convicted on all counts and sentenced to five years in prison. He served three. Zundel was banned from returning to Canada and he moved to his childhood homw and stayed there till his death in 2017.
Some people consider Zundel a free speech activist who bravely stood against the establishment and was hounded. Others think of him as a buffoon who pissed the wrong people off with his fringe political beliefs. Whichever, it can’t be denied that this was a complete witch-hunt. Mark Bonokoski wrote upon Zundel’s death that he 'deserved agony, not a quiet exit'. Well Mr. Bonokoski I’m sorry that jail, solitary confinement and deportations from two different countries weren’t enough! For publishing bloody books and pamphlets! I have no love for Zundel and less for the NSDAP he admired, but this man was hounded for thirty years for creating books and pamphlets and CDs. And this is what I find incredulous. Nothing anywhere near the level of severity will be launched at Dougal MacDonald. He may lose his lecturing position, but that will be the end of it. No trials and jail time for you MacDonald.
Why is this? A Nazi denies the Holocaust and is put on trial, while a Marxist-Leninist denies the Holomdor and gets off scot-free? Both are recognized as genocides in Canada, so why is it a crime to deny one and not the other? Now here we will get some leftist who will claim that the Holomdor wasn’t a targeted slaughter (despite the pretty explicit targeting of Ukrainian famine victims by the Soviet authorities), and is different than the Holocaust. I disagree most heartily. If you have sympathy for a Jewish man being suffocated by gas or shot dead, but not for a Ukrainian man being starved to death or murdered by cannibals, what is wrong with you? That sounds pretty racist pal. Overall, we know the difference. White Christians dying at the hands of communists is less important than Jews and other ethnic minorities dying at the hands of national socialists to the current establishment. Otherwise powerful and influential people might start looking at “social justice” as closely as they scrutinize frog memes. But that won’t happen. In our post-Christian society, Hitler has replaced Satan and therefore Nazism always must be the penultimate evil. And therefore the numerous horrific crimes of communist and revolutionary regimes will be swept under the table. Mass killings of white people such as in contemporary South Africa will also be ignored. All undercut the idea that there can be more than one kind of oppressor and more than one kind of victim. And that is inexcusable for our current elites. The most horrifying thing for them is that the 'privileged' should ever have justifiable fear of anyone else. That men can be just as cruel and tyrannical if not more so in the name of equality and progress as they can in the name of tribe and religion. And that is the lesson of genocide dear readers; they only really matter if white right-wingers commit them.
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