By Paul Stock

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane? No, it is the Forest Brothers and NATO has found them!

In NATO’s latest blockbuster released on July 11 this year, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian partisans – “the woodmen” who fought against the Soviets in the 1940s–1950s to gain independence – can be seen scurrying around Baltic forests for a full eight minutes, in full German uniforms, to full special effects, saving the lives of their fellow citizens from bloodthirsty Russians and protecting their homeland to the death… all on a You Tube screen near you!

As Canadian journalist Scott Taylor has pointed out: “The theme of this new piece of NATO propaganda is to liken the resolve and heroism of these historical Forest Brothers to the current special forces units of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia…The timing of the release of the NATO short film is no doubt aimed at magnifying the threat posed by Russia” which on September 14, 2017 conducted, for a week, its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War.

Russia’s recent Zapad exercises may have been provocative but a NATO film that unwittingly glorifies Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian “partisans” is equally hard to stomach, particularly when one considers that the Forest Brothers in the film are heralded as heroic, ideological fighters fighting for independence against the evil Soviets.

Apparently simple, common people who loved their country so much they chose to fight to the death for it, simple, common people whom the Lithuanian and Latvian governments have, in recent years, spent a small fortune in Euros in glorifying and, at the same time, threatening to imprison, for between two to five years, anyone who dares to say otherwise.

Some of these same simple, common people just happened to be some of the main agents of the Holocaust, leading lights within the Arājs Kommando killing unit which annihilated nearly 67,000 Latvian Jews, 90% of Latvia’s pre-war Jewish population in 1941-1942 and, in 1943, joined the Latvian SS!

As Dr Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, has stated: “Several prominent commanders were involved in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. In fact, part of the motivation of some of the Forest Brothers to join, was apparently to avoid prosecution by the Soviets for their crimes against civilians during the war. Another complaint against them was that in certain cases they mistreated their own people (ethnic Lithuanians).”

As much as Baltic countries would like to think that the Russians are in sinful alliance with Morgoth, it should be remembered that during the Second World War, the Russians – in the shape of the Soviet Union – were indeed in alliance with the British, Americans and French fighting Hitler and his genocidal troops.

If Soviet Russia had not fought in the war and taken such immense human losses, it is highly unlikely that the Baltic States that heartily collaborated with Hitler and his murderous hordes would even exist today.

Historians know very well of the Nazis’ plans to do away with the Baltic peoples after the much planned-for “final victory” There would have been no Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia to become independent in 1991!

The fight for historic truth and unravelling of myth from memory is, in the Baltics, an especially upward struggle, often reaching Orwellian proportions with many casualties and numerous court cases.

According to the Russian Military Historical Society, from 1944-1956 the 40,000-odd Lithuanian patriots killed 25,000 people including 1,000 children. At least 80% were Lithuanians themselves. A number of these “heroes” have, from what historical records reveal, far from noble pasts but still street names, plaques and honours have been bestowed upon them: Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, Juozas Barzda, Konstantinas Liuberskis–Žvainys, Vincas Kaulinis-Miškinis, Juozas Krikštaponis (Krištaponis), Jonas Noreika, Adolfas Ramanauskas Vanagas, Juozas Šibaila, Sergijus Staniškis Litas, Vylius-Vėlavičius and Jonas Žemaitis to name only a few.

In the Second World War, 220,000 or 96.4% of Lithuanian Jews were slaughtered, the largest percentage in Europe, because of the massive voluntary participation of the “patriots”, members of the Forest Brothers and the Lithuanian Activist Front.

However, in 2011-2012, the Lithuanian government publicly honoured many of these so-called patriots.

The situation in neighbouring Latvia was, and is, no different.  Since 1998, each and every 16 March, in the capital, Riga, the few that are left of the 87,550 Latvian Waffen SS members are annually greeted with flowers by up to 3,000 Latvians and their deluded, international, ultra-nationalist friends.

They insist that the Latvian Waffen SS Legion, around a third of who were volunteers not conscripts, could not have played a role in the Holocaust as it was not officially formed until later in the war (1943).

However, substantial evidence including a series of personal accounts and confirmation emerging from the trial of Adolf Eichmann, support the accusation that unknown numbers of Latvian Waffen SS soldiers acting as auxiliary police were involved in the murder of Jews between 1941 and 1942.

Nearly 67,000 Jews or 95.6 percent of Latvia’s pre-war Jewish population were done to death by notorious ghetto executioners like Arnold Točs and Bruno Tone, commanders in the Arājs Kommando and then, later, members of the Latvian version of the Forest Brothers, the Wildkatze SS Jagdverband Ost.

Its leader, Boris Jankavs, was only a few years before in the Arājs Kommando and was a close friend of Rumbula and Babi Yar mass murderer and SS Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln of “sardine method” – in which people were shot in “neat” layers – killing fame

Jeckeln’s murderous career had got off to an early start in the Third Reich when, soon after the handover of power to Hitler, he was personally involved in killing political opponents and anti-fascists, especially Communists, Social Democrats and trades unionists.

From 1941-1945 the Nazis and their accomplices established 46 prisons, 23 concentration camps and 18 Jewish ghettos in Latvia alone, killing 313,798 civilians, 39,835 children and 330,032 Soviet prisoners of war.

After the war these “heroes” of the Baltic SS divisions fled into the woods and continued their killing sprees. The last units of the Forest Brothers were finally wiped out in the 1950’s.

At the same time, the Cold War raged. Latvian SS men who had not been caught by the Russians found easy refuge in the UK, America and Canada, often their ability to offer an invaluable insider’s guide to Soviet Russia getting them off the legalhook.

Suddenly and shamefully, the Latvian and Estonian SS were declared by the US Displaced Persons Commission in September 1950 as being “separate and distinct” from the other 35 SS divisions!  However, let us not forget that of the 900,000 members of the Waffen SS members, over 87,000 had been Latvians, the largest foreign contingent.

These Latvians were mainly placed in the 15th Infantry Division, the most decorated non-German Waffen SS unit and a third of them had volunteered to aid and abet the Nazis.  None have been brought to justice since the Baltic States obtained their independence in the early 1990s.

Perhaps it is therefore no surprise that, as another Cold War looms, the Baltic states should once more attempt to rewrite history and NATO and the West should again turn a blind eye.

However, for those who wish to know, in the first verdict that was made regarding the SS, the verdict of the Nuremberg trials of 30 September 1946, it was crystal clear: there were no heroes among the SS, there were no divisions that were deemed better than others but rather the SS as a whole was defined as a “criminal organisation.”

Stated the Nuremberg judgment and worth quoting at length:

Much of the evidence and the argument has centred around the question of whether membership in these organizations was or was not voluntary; in this case, it seems to the Tribunal to be quite beside the point. For this alleged criminal organization has one characteristic, a controlling one, which sharply distinguishes it….When an individual became a member of the SS, for instance, he did so voluntarily or otherwise, but certainly with the knowledge that he was joining something.  Many of these men have made a mockery of the soldier’s oath of obedience to military orders. When it suits their defense they say they had to obey; when, confronted with Hitler’s brutal crimes, which are shown to have been within their general knowledge, they say they disobeyed. The truth is that they actively participated in all these crimes, or sat silent and acquiescent, witnessing the commission of crimes on a scale larger and more shocking than the world has ever had the misfortune to know. This must be said.