First They Came for the Holocaust Deniers, and I Did Not Speak Out


“In 2014, Russian blogger Vladimir Luzgin posted an update on VKontakte, a social media network popular in Russia. The update included this seemingly benign paragraph:

“The Communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off World War II. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated.”

One hardly has to be a history buff to know that Luzgin’s post was, essentially, factually correct. On Aug. 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union entered into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which divided a number of countries — including Poland — into German and Soviet spheres of influence. On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland; sixteen days later, Soviet troops followed suit.

But although Luzgin’s update might have had its facts right, in the eyes of Russian authorities it represented an inconvenient truth, one that complicates the otherwise heroic story of the millions of Russians who fought and died against Adolf Hitler and fascism in the “Great Patriotic War” that Vladimir Putin likes to use for propaganda purposes today. And so, this June, Luzgin was convicted and fined 200,000 rubles under Russia’s recent law against “Nazi rehabilitation,” which prohibits the “public denial of the Nuremberg trials and circulation of false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of World War II.” On Sept. 1 — the anniversary of the German invasion of Poland — Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the conviction.”

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