Monday, April 20, 2015

M.N.: On protesting too much and Ann's need for self-education: FBI director got it right on the Holocaust and you, Ms. Applebaum, got it wrong. How do you know that those "many people" who did those things (participated in Holocaust as executioners and accomplices by torturing and murdering thousands of Jews and non-Jews) knew that "those things" were "terribly, terribly wrong"? Are you able to read what was on their minds? Can you prove your point? I think that you got it wrong. There is no reason to whitewash this issue and conduct some type of a witch hunt because the truth was mentioned openly. I think that many of them knew very well what they were doing and shared the same feelings and ideology with German Nazis. - FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust



"So no, it is not true, as Comey made it sound, that “murderers and accomplices” in Germany, Poland and Hungary and lots of other places were somehow responsible for the Holocaust. And no, it isn’t true that the Holocaust is a story of so many otherwise “good” people who “convinced themselves it was the right thing to do.”

On the contrary, it’s a story about the power of fear, the danger of lawlessness and the horror that was made possible by a specific form of German state terror in the years between 1939 and 1945 – a terror that convinced many people to do things that they knew were terribly, terribly wrong." - FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust - WP 


FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust 

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The Polish ambassador to Washington has protested, the Polish president has protested, the speaker of the Polish parliament (to whom I am married) has protested — and the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw has apologized profusely. Why? Because James Comey, the director of the FBI, in a speech that was reprinted in The Post arguing for more Holocaust education, demonstrated just how badly he needs it himself.Read full article >>

M.N.: Ms. Applebaum, how do you know that those "many people" who did those things (participated in Holocaust voluntarily and willingly as executioners and accomplices by torturing and murdering thousands of Jews and non-Jews) knew that "those things" were "terribly, terribly wrong"? 
Are you able to read what was on their minds?
Can you prove your point? 
I think that you got it wrong. There is no reason to whitewash this issue and conduct some type of a witch hunt because the truth was mentioned openly. 
I think that many of them knew very well what they were doing and shared the same feelings and ideology with German Nazis. 
For the purposes of understanding the Holocaust as historico-psychological phenomenon, the distinction between "state-sponsored" and "non state-sponsored" terror, which Ms. Appelbaum and others try to present as their main argument, is somewhat artificial, secondary and even immaterial.
It did not make much of a difference to the victims of this terror, who sponsored or did not sponsor it. 

"...the highest estimate of [Polish Holocaust collaborators is] about one million,[114] [which] includes all Polish citizens who in some way contributed to the German activities..." - The Holocaust in Poland - Wikipedia

The self-serving and self-righteous diplomatic furor and expressions of indignation by Poland and Hungary are irrelevant: they do protest too much. Let them face, understand, analyse and make the appropriate conclusions from their histories in honest. They owe it to themselves, their own people and the world. 

I have already mentioned this issue. Let us do more detailed review on this subject. 


Selected Comments to WP article:

1:53 PM EDT
Looks like the FBI Director got it about right:

Instead, returning Polish Jews encountered an anti-Semitism of terrible fury and brutality. Small wonder, then, that nearly as soon as they set foot on Polish soil, most fled all over again. Many went westward, to a place that, oddly enough, had suddenly become an oasis of tranquillity and safety by comparison: Germany. Far from being celebrated, those Poles who had sheltered Jews during the war — and there were many — begged them to say nothing, lest their neighbors deride them as “Jew lovers,” or beat them, or break into their homes (searching for the money the Jews had surely left behind) or kill them.

Eyewitnesses in the Warsaw ghetto saw Poles watching approvingly or even helping out, acting as spotters as German soldiers shot Jews. Polish girls were overheard joking, “Come, look, how cutlets from Jews are frying,” as the ghetto burned. Nazi accounts of Judenjagd, or “Jew hunts,” detailed how Poles pitched in to find any stray Jews the Germans somehow managed to miss. As the deportations proceeded, and practically before the trains had left for Chelmno or Belzec or Treblinka, Poles gathered on the outskirts of towns, waiting to plunder Jewish property or move into Jewish homes. And while the Nazis killed millions of Jews, Poles killed thousands — most famously, as Gross related in “Neighbors” (2001), a book that caused an uproar in Poland, 1,600 of them in the town of Jebwabne in July 1941 — crimes little noted at the time nor since remembered in Polish history books. - Postwar Pogrom

BillM2
1:59 PM EDT
Wasn't the point of the Director's comments more about the dangers of blind loyalty to the state? It seemed to me that he wanted to use the extreme example of the Holocaust to show what can happen if an organization like the FBI became too loyal to the political leadership of the nation.

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LiberalFreedomFighter
1:59 PM EDT
Sorry, Anne. History teacher here. I also worked in the Holocaust field for many years doing firsthand research based on oral histories of Holocaust survivors.  
 
While it is true that the Holocaust was created by Germans, a lot of low-level participants and special killing squads were populated by Poles, Hungarians, and Ukrainians. Fascism itself was not uniquely German, and anti-semitism had much of its most violent pre-war incarnations in the Russian Empire.  
 
So the FBI director was dead right. 
 
However, it is also true that Poles, Russians and Ukrainians were equally victims of the Nazis as a group, so the complexity of their emotions on the topic is understandable.

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Holocaust

poland's role in the holocaust 

M.N.: The post ww2 "mini-Holocaust" in Poland which was not state-sponsored (just opposite, state-opposed) is the indirect indication that these sentiments were clearly present (how broadly, we do not know and it would be hard to measure them with precision) in the populace and definitely played their role. 

"THE monstrous mass murders of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland had a ghastly echo after the war, when hundreds of Jewish survivors were killed by other Poles. Linking the two tragedies is easy: if you believe that Poles are especially anti-Semitic, it is only natural to assume that the Nazi murders in Poland were somehow part of a wider picture."


Poland and anti-Semitism: Only one Holocaust | The ...


"Well, I don't know about "everywhere else," but after World War II, many Jews did attempt to "go home" to Poland. This resulted in the murder of about 1,500 of them -- killed not by Nazis but by Poles, either out of sheer ethnic hatred or fear they would lose their (stolen) homes.
The mini-Holocaust that followed the Holocaust itself is not well-known anymore...
Something had to be done for the Jews of Europe. They were still being murdered.

In the Polish city of Kielce, on July 4, 1946 -- more than a year after the end of the war -- rumors of a Jewish ritual murder triggered a pogrom in which 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors were killed. The Kielce murders were not, by any means, the sole example of why Jews could not "go home." When I visited the Polish city where my mother had been born, Ostroleka, I was told of a Jew who survived Auschwitz only to be murdered when he tried to reclaim his business. In much of Eastern Europe, Jews feared for their lives."


Richard Cohen - What Helen Thomas missed


mini-holocaust in Poland after ww2

explosion of antisemitism in europe after ww2

explosion of antisemitism in poland after ww2

explosion of antisemitism in ukraine after ww2

explosion of antisemitism in russia after ww2


polish participation holocaust | polish complicity holocaust 

polish role in holocaust 

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poland's role in the holocaust | polish participation holocaust | polish complicity holocaust 

polish role in holocaust 


Throughout the German occupation, many Poles – at great risk to themselves and their families – engaged in rescuing Jews from the Nazis. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the biggest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.[10][5] The Polish Righteous Among the Nationsrecognized by the State of Israel include 6,532 (as of 1 January 2015)[11] heroic individuals – more than any other nation.[10]...

The relations between Poles and Jews during World War II present one of the sharpest paradoxes of the Holocaust. Only 10% of the Jews survived, less than in any other country; and yet, Poland accounts for the majority of rescuers with the title of 'Righteous Among the Nations', i.e. people who risked their lives to save Jews. The Poles honored byYad Vashem are a fraction of the true number of deserving individuals, wrote Paulsson, and: "so far represent only the tip of the iceberg."[96] The nature of this paradox was debated by historians on both sides for more than fifty years often with preconceived notions and selective evidence.[96]

Many Jews, persecuted by the Germans, received help from the Poles; help, ranging from major acts of heroism, to minor acts of kindness involving hundreds of thousands of helpers acting often anonymously. This rescue effort occurred even though (since October 1941) ethnic Poles themselves were the subject to capital punishment at the hands of the Nazis if found offering any kind of help to a person of Jewish faith or origin (Poland was the only country in German-occupied Europe in which such a death penalty was applied).[96][97]

In some cases, the Germans across Europe were able to exploit the local populace's anti-Semitism, and Poland was no exception. In occupied Poland death was a standard punishment for a Polish person with family and neighbors,[112] for any help given to Jews, one of the many coercive techniques used by Germans.[14] 

Some persons betrayed hidden Jews to the Germans, others made money as extortionists (szmalcownik), blackmailing Jews in hiding and Poles who protected them.[113] Estimates of the number of Polish collaborators vary. The lower estimate of seven thousand is based primarily on the sentences of the Special Courts of the Polish Underground State, sentencing individuals for treason to the nation; the highest estimate of about one million,[114] includes all Polish citizens who in some way contributed to the German activities, such as: low-ranking Polish bureaucrats employed in German administration, members of the Blue Police, construction workers, slave laborers in German-run factories and farms and similar others 

(notably the highest figure originates from a single statistical table of outdated scholarship with a very thin source base).[115] Relatively little active collaboration by individual Poles – with any aspect of the German presence in Poland – took place. All Nazi propaganda efforts to recruit Poles in either labor or auxiliary roles were met with almost no interest, due to the everyday reality of German occupation. The non-German auxiliary workers in the extermination camps, for example, were mostly Ukrainians and Balts. John Connelly quoted a Polish historian (Leszek Gondek) calling the phenomenon of Polish collaboration "marginal" and wrote that "only relatively small percentage of Polish population engaged in activities that may be described as collaboration when seen against the backdrop of European and world history".[115] The unique Polish Underground State considered szmalcownictwo an act of collaboration with the enemy, and with the aid of its military arm, theArmia Krajowa, punished it with the judicatory death sentence. Up to 10,000 Poles were tried by Polish underground courts for assisting the enemy, and 2,500 were executed.[114]
...
Anti-Semitic attitudes were particularly visible in the eastern provinces which had been earlier occupied by the Russians following the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland. Local population had witnessed the repressions against their own compatriots, and mass deportation of up to 1.5 million ethnic Poles to Siberia,[118] conducted by the Soviet security apparatus, with some of the local Jews collaborating with them. Others assumed that, driven by vengeance,Jewish Communists had been prominent in betraying the ethnically Polish or other victims.[119][120]
...
A few German-inspired massacres were carried out in that region with the active participation of indigenous people. The guidelines for such massacres were formulated by Reinhard Heydrich,[121] who ordered his officers to induce anti-Jewish pogroms on territories newly occupied by the German forces.[122][123]
...
Some ultra-nationalist National Armed Forces,[130][131] (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne or NSZ) participated in murders of Jews during wartime, wrote Korboński, but other NSZ units rendered assistance to them, replied Piotrowski (Poland's Holocaust) and included Jews in their ranks.[132]
...

In 1946, over a year after the end of the war, 42 Jews were massacred in the Kielce pogrom, prompting Gen. Spychalski of PWP to sign a legislative decree allowing the remaining survivors to leave Poland without visas or exit permits.[134]


hungary's role in holocaust | the politics of genocide the holocaust in hungary

ukraine role in holocaust | ukrainian participation in holocaust 

ukrainian complicity holocaust | ukrainian involvement in the holocaust 


The Holocaust in Ukraine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



russia's role in the holocaust | russian participation in the holocaust


The Holocaust in Russia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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the banality of evil | what does the banality of evil mean | the banality of evil meaning

banality of evil meaning for the holocaust | the banality of evil quote | banality of evil summary


Eichmann in Jerusalem - Wikipedia

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Arendt's subtitle famously introduced the phrase "the banality of evil," which also serves as the final words of the book. In part, at least, the phrase refers to Eichmann's deportment at the trial, displaying neither guilt nor hatred, claiming he bore no responsibility because he was simply "doing his job" ("He did his duty...; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law." p. 135).

  • During his imprisonment before his trial, the Israeli government sent no fewer than six psychologists to examine Eichmann. These psychologists found not only no trace of mental illness, but also no evidence of abnormal personality whatsoever. One doctor remarked that his overall attitude towards other people, especially his family and friends, was "highly desirable", while another remarked that the only unusual trait Eichmann displayed was being more "normal" in his habits and speech than the average person (pp. 25–6).
Arendt suggests that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from "normal" people.
...
Arendt's book introduced the expression and concept "the banality of evil".[4] Her thesis is that Eichmann was not a fanatic or sociopath, but an extremely average person who relied on cliché rather than thinking for himself and was motivated by professional promotion rather than ideology. Banality, in this sense, is not that Eichmann's actions were ordinary, or that there is a potential Eichmann in all of us, but that his actions were motivated by a sort of stupidity which was wholly unexceptional.[5] She never denied that Eichmann was an anti-semite, nor that he was fully responsible for his actions, but argued that these characteristics were secondary to his stupidity.

"Little Eichmanns" is a phrase used to describe persons participating in society who, while on an individual scale may seem relatively harmless even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit. This is comparable to how Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi bureaucrat, unfeelingly helped to orchestrate The Holocaust.
...
  1.  Mumford, Lewis (1970). The Pentagon of Power: The Myth of the Machine, Vol. IINew York CityHarcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 279. ISBN 0-15-163974-4In every country there are now countless Eichmanns in administrative offices, in business corporations, in universities, in laboratories, in the armed forces: orderly, obedient people, ready to carry out any officially sanctioned fantasy, however dehumanized and debased.

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Poland and anti-Semitism: Only one Holocaust

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THE monstrous mass murders of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland had a ghastly echo after the war, when hundreds of Jewish survivors were killed by other Poles. Linking the two tragedies is easy: if you believe that Poles are especially anti-Semitic, it is only natural to assume that the Nazi murders in Poland were somehow part of a wider picture. The controversy over this has bubbled up in America following unfortunate remarks by Helen Thomas, a veteran White House correspondent, who said that Israelis should "go back to Poland".
She resigned, and Richard Cohen, a heavyweight columnist at the Washington Post, weighed in witha blistering attack on her for ignoring the plight of Jews in post-war Poland.
The mini-Holocaust that followed the Holocaust itself is not well-known anymore, but it played an outsize role in the establishment of the state of Israel. It was the plight of Jews consigned to Displaced Persons camps in Europe that both moved and outraged President Harry Truman, who supported Jewish immigration to Palestine and, when the time came, the new state itself. Something had to be done for the Jews of Europe. They were still being murdered.
Few would quibble with Mr Cohen's outrage about events such as the massacre at Kielce, in which 42 Jews were killed by their fellow-Poles in July 1946. And he is right to highlight the horrible approach of America's General George S Patton, whom he terms a "contemptible bigot". Patton wrote in his diary that the Jews were "lower than animals" and wanted them kept in camps under armed guard, for fear that they would "swarm like locusts".
But Mr Cohen spoils his case with his careless choice of words. In a sharply worded response, Poland's two Jewish leaders, the chief rabbi Michael Schudrich, and the president of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, Piotr Kadlcik, object to his linkage of wartime and post-war events.
To call a postwar tragedy such as Kielce a mini-Holocaust is to ignore a crucial aspect, the role of the state. The Holocaust was not just 6 million murders; it was a systematic and organized state campaign, reflecting the policies adopted by the German Third Reich. Postwar murders of Jews in Poland reflected popular anti-Semitism, the corrupting impact of Nazi propaganda and action, and the general lawlessness of the country. The Polish military and police tried to suppress pogrom attempts, even if orders were not always followed, and after Kielce, the government allowed an armed Jewish militia to be set up for self-defense.
The two men end by quoting Camus: "To misname things is to add to the misery of the world."  Jewish (and gentile) Poles have suffered enough from history. They deserve at least precision from outsiders. 
Read the whole story

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FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust

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The Polish ambassador to Washington has protested, the Polish president has protested, the speaker of the Polish parliament (to whom I am married) has protested — and the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw has apologized profusely. Why? Because James Comey, the director of the FBI, in aspeech that was reprinted in The Post arguing for more Holocaust education, demonstrated just how badly he needs it himself.
In two poorly worded sentences, he sounded to Polish readers as if he were repeating the World War II myth that most drives them crazy: Namely, that somehow, those who lived in occupied Eastern Europe shared full responsibility for a German policy. Comey put it like this:
“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”
There are a number of problems with that pair of weak sentences, starting with the vast difference between Germany and the rest. During the war, Germany had a state policy of exterminating the Jews. This policy involved not “accomplices” but hundreds of bureaucrats, tens of thousands of soldiers, train schedules and plans. Germany also encouraged the creation of collaborationist governments in other countries – Vichy France, for example – some of which used their own police officers to send their Jewish citizens into the German death camps.
Germany also occupied Poland, but there was no Polish “Vichy.” During the war, there was no Polish state at all. Indeed, it was the absence of the Polish state that enabled the Germans to create a lawless, violent world, one in which anyone could be arbitrarily murdered, any Jew could be deported — and any Pole who helped a Jew could be shot instantly, along with his entire family. Many were. Millions of others died too – Polish intellectuals, priests and politicians were all Nazi targets.
In the course of the war, most of Poland’s infrastructure, industry and architecture were destroyed. In that atmosphere, many people were frightened by or indifferent to the fate of the Jews, and some murdered in order to avoid being murdered. But that doesn’t mean that “in their minds” they “didn’t do something evil.”
Although the circumstances were different, Germany’s leading role is equally clear in Hungary. The wartime government of Adm. Miklós Horthy did pass anti-Semitic legislation and did align itself with the Nazis. But the mass murder and deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz began only in March 1944, when that government dissolved and was replaced with a straightforward German occupation. Once the Hungarian state had been dissolved, in other words, Hungary also became a lawless, violent zone where anything was possible.
So no, it is not true, as Comey made it sound, that “murderers and accomplices” in Germany, Poland and Hungary and lots of other places were somehow responsible for the Holocaust. And no, it isn’t true that the Holocaust is a story of so many otherwise “good” people who “convinced themselves it was the right thing to do.”
On the contrary, it’s a story about the power of fear, the danger of lawlessness and the horror that was made possible by a specific form of German state terror in the years between 1939 and 1945 – a terror that convinced many people to do things that they knew were terribly, terribly wrong. If the FBI director wants to take some lessons from Washington’s excellent Holocaust museum, that’s very admirable. But first he should make sure he’s understood what he’s seen.

Anne Applebaum writes a biweekly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post. She is also the Director of the Global Transitions Program at the Legatum Institute in London.
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· · · ·

Bill Clinton, FBI Director James Comey, Others Deliver Speeches at Oklahoma City Memorial

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Former President Bill Clinton Sunday paid tribute to the 168 victims, 19 of them young children, who lost their lives 20 years ago in the Oklahoma City bombing as well as to the survivors who redeemed "your terrible losses." Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett characterized April 19, 1995, as "60 minutes of terror" followed by "our finest hour."
“I prepared for this day yesterday [Saturday], in New York, by taking Hillary to see our daughter and son-in-law and my about-to-be 7-month-old grandchild,” Clinton said. “And Hillary and I bathed her and fed her and put her to bed, and I looked at her in that crib so I could remember how you felt, those of you who lost your loved ones.”
The former president was joined on stage by a handful of current and former Oklahoma City mayors and governors, as well as James Comey, director of the FBI, and Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. 
"It was 60 minutes of terror," Cornett said. "But our finest hour has lasted 20 years. This city has progressed in a manner that none of us could have foreseen."
Clinton echoed the mayor’s sentiments, saying the people of Oklahoma embodied a spirit of resolve and resilience.
“By just living by the Oklahoma Standard, you grew faster than ever before and grew far more prosperous,” he said. "Oklahoma City, you had to choose to redeem your terrible losses by having to begin again." You can watch his full speech here
The bomb was set off inside a truck packed with explosives. The truck was parked in a loading zone in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which included a daycare center, by Timothy McVeigh, who told investigators the attack was in retaliation for the 1993 FBI standoff with the Branch Davidian Church in Waco, Texas, where 80 members of the religious sect were killed. 
Comey spoke of the "dark and damaging moments in our history" like the Oklahoma City bombing, which was the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil until Sept. 11, 2001. 
“You were strong,” Comey said. “You were unbending. You were fearless in the face of terrible hatred. You understood, even in the midst of evil, that courage is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than hatred. And hope is stronger than grief.”
He added: "For 20 years, you have sought the good coming out of the darkness. It is your way of saying: 'We remember. We will never forget. But we will move bravely forward.'"
President Obama issued a statement from the White House, saying Americans "will never forget the men and women who lost their lives in the bombing that day. The passing of time will never extinguish the pain we feel. But if those murderers hoped to terrorize the American people that day, to break our spirits or shatter the bonds that unite us, then they completely and utterly failed."
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6 From Minnesota Charged With Trying To Join Islamic State « CBS Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — Six Minnesota men have been charged with terrorism in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, the latest Westerners accused of traveling or attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
The six, whom authorities described as friends who met secretly to plan their travels, are accused of conspiracy to provide material support and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The complaint says the men planned to reach Syria by flying to nearby countries from Minneapolis, San Diego or New York City, and lied to federal investigators when they were stopped.
Charged are Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21; Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19; Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21; Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19; Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19; and Guled Ali Omar, 20.
“These were focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization,” Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said at a news conference Monday.
The six were arrested Sunday in Minneapolis and San Diego and are scheduled to make initial appearances in federal court on Monday.
They are the latest people from Minnesota to be charged in an investigation stretching back months into the recruitment of Westerners by IS. Authorities said earlier that a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants in the past year, and at least one has died.
Three of those charged in the newest complaint — Mohamed Farah, Abdurahman and Musse — were stopped at a New York City airport in November along with 19-year-old Hamza Ahmed, but they were not charged until now.
Ahmed was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI during a terrorism investigation, conspiring to provide material support to IS, and attempting to provide material support. He has pleaded not guilty.
Despite being stopped already, Luger said, the three others continued to try to get to Syria to join IS “by any means possible.”
“Even when their co-conspirators were caught and charged, they continued to seek new and creative ways to leave Minnesota to fight for a terror group,” Luger said.
The complaint describes several interactions some of the men had with Abdi Nur, a Minnesota man charged previously with conspiracy to provide support to a terror organization. The complaint says Nur, “from his locale in Syria, recruits individuals and provides assistance to those who want to leave Minnesota to fight abroad.”
The complaint relies in part on material from a confidential informant who had himself conspired to join IS before he changed his mind and went to authorities. Some of the informant’s conversations with the six men were recorded.
The Minneapolis area is home to the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the U.S. Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men have also traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the militant group al-Shabab.
Omar’s older brother, Ahmed Ali Omar, was among those who joined al-Shabab, leaving Minnesota in December 2007, according to the complaint. Ahmed Omar remains a fugitive. It also said when agents went to the younger Omar’s house after he was stopped in San Diego in November, another brother, Mohamed Ali Omar, threatened them.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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Russia says kills head of North Caucasus Islamist insurgency

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian security forces killed the leader of an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus during a raid on a house in the Dagestan region, the national Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) said on Monday.

Dagestan, from which convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev emigrated with his family to the United States in 2002, has become a hub of militant Islam in the North Caucasus.

Four other suspected militants were also killed with Aliaskhab Kebekov, also known as Ali Abu Mukhammad, after special forces surrounded the house in a suburb of the town of Buynaksk in southern Russia on Sunday, NAK said.

It released video footage showing the house exploding and a shootout followed by more blasts. The house is later seen in ruins, with the rubble ablaze.

The Kavkaz Centre website, which sympathizes with the militants, said Kebekov had been "martyred" in an "unequal battle" with state troops.

Kebekov, born in 1972, became the leader of the Caucasus Emirate group in early 2014 after Russian security forces killed his predecessor, Doku Umarov, who had been Russia's most-wanted man.

Two other senior Dagestani militants were among the dead, NAK also said, adding that a child had been allowed to leave but two women as well as the suspected militants had refused to come out during negotiations preceding the raid.

Kebekov's Caucasus Emirate was listed as a terrorist group by the United States in 2011 and is held responsible for several deadly bombings in Russia in recent years.

Moscow waged two 1990s wars on separatists in Chechnya, which borders Dagestan. It now faces an insurgency by militants who have proclaimed a caliphate in the North Caucasus, a patchwork of mainly Muslim provinces on Russia's southern rim.

Russian authorities have sounded an alarm over the insurgents' links with Islamic State (IS) and said some militants have ventured out to join the ranks of the ultra-radical group, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

A North Caucasus expert and editor of the Caucasian Knot website, Grigory Shvedov, said the killing of Kebekov could strengthen the cause of more radical militants who broke ranks with him last December to shift allegiance to Islamic State.

Rights activists and Kremlin critics accuse Russia of using heavy-handed tactics in the North Caucasus that violate the law and increase resentment among locals. Russian authorities say the use of force is necessary to protect public safety.

(Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich)
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Hungary Protests U.S. FBI Chief’s Holocaust Comments

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BUDAPEST—Hungary will send a letter to the U.S. embassy in Budapest protesting comments on the Holocaust made by the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, its foreign ministry said Monday.
In an op-ed article published in the Washington Post last week, FBI Director James Comey said Hungary was an accomplice to Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.
“Good people helped murder millions,” Mr. Comey said in the piece.
“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do,” the FBI director said in the piece, adapted from a speech he gave at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Hungary’s letter reopens a debate between Washington and Budapest over the Eastern European country’s role in World War II.
Poland summoned the U.S. ambassador on Sunday over the remark.
“The words of the FBI director reflect astonishing insensitivity and impermissible superficiality,” Hungary’s foreign ministry press office told The Wall Street Journal.
“We are not accepting from anyone such generalizations and defamation of Hungary, the Hungarian people,” it added.
In a statement released Thursday—the Memorial Day for the Hungarian Victims of the Holocaust—Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the Hungarian Jewry forms part of the Hungarian nation. He reiterated that the Hungarian Jewish community can count on the respect, friendship and protection of the government of Hungary.
The Orban government raised a controversial monument in downtown Budapest last year to remember all victims of the Holocaust—not just the 500,000 Hungarians who perished—of the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany in 1944.
Critics claimed at the time that the statue was aimed at whitewashing Hungary’s past, saying the Hungarian Holocaust took place with the active participation of state authorities.
In April last year, the U.S. urged the country to face up to its role as a Hitler ally during the war.
“As a fellow democracy, we continue to urge the government to seek an honest, open, and factual assessment of the Holocaust in Hungary,” the U.S. Embassy said at the time.
The Hungarian far-right Jobbik party last week won a parliamentary seat in a by-election, a development that has renewed worries at home and abroad over extremism rising in Hungary, even though Jobbik has denied being anti-Semitic.
“We cannot remain silent and idle any longer against bestial ideologies,” Janos Lazar, minister of the premier’s office said last week following Jobbik’s victory.
Following what happened in 1944, “there’s no such thing as ’innocent’ hate speech when talking about Jews or the Roma, there’s no such thing as ‘innocent’ discrimination,” Mr. Lazar said.
Write to Margit Feher at margit.feher@wsj.com
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The FBI director’s larger message on the Holocaust

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A January 2015 photo of the entrance to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, in Poland. (Alik Keplicz/Associated Press)
In the category of “no good deed goes unpunished,” we now have the speech of FBI Director James B. Comey at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He said some remarkable things. The first is that he requires all his agents and analysts to visit the museum so that they can acquaint themselves with evil. The second is that he personally is so “haunted” by the Holocaust that “it has long stood as a stumbling block to faith.”
That stopped me right there. “Who is this guy?” I wondered. J. Edgar Hoover would never have confessed to a substantial crisis of faith, never mind sending his agents to any museum. Comey is not your basic Washington bureaucrat.
Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post. 
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What followed though was not applause, but condemnation. The president and prime minister of Poland, as well as Anne Applebaum, The Post columnist whose husband is the speaker of the lower house of the Polish parliament, all unloaded on Comey. Why? Applebaum explained: “Because James Comey . . . in a speech . . . arguing for more Holocaust education, demonstrated just how badly he needs it himself.” Ouch!
Applebaum and the others took Comey to task for the following two sentences: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t so something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called the comments an “insult to thousands of Poles who helped Jews.” The prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, added, “To those who are incapable of presenting the historic truth in an honest way, I want to say that Poland was not a perpetrator but a victim of World War II.” And the U.S. ambassador in Warsaw did a full grovel. He refuted the notion that “Poland, or any other countries other than Nazi Germany, bear responsibility for the Holocaust.” He called it “a mistake, harmful and insulting.” He cannot have read the same speech I did.
Nowhere in Comey’s speech did he blame Poland for the Holocaust. He simply mentioned “accomplices,” of which Poland had its share. This doesn’t negate the fact that no European nation suffered as much under Nazi rule as did Poland — and no nation had as effective an underground movement. Many Poles risked, and sometimes lost, their lives trying to save Jews. Poles were often splendid. Most just tried to survive.
But even before the 1939 conquest by Germany, Poland had evolved into an anti-Semitic state. In her book “On the Edge of Destruction,” Celia S. Heller wrote that the Jews of Poland “came to represent a conquered population.” They were legally discriminated against. Quotas for Jews were established in colleges and universities. Jewish students were forced to sit in certain areas, the so-called ghetto benches. If they resisted, they were beaten by their fellow students, sometimes by the faculty as well. Jewish merchants, who already closed on Saturday, were forced to close Sunday as well and were required to post their names, often recognizably Jewish, on their storefronts.
Many of these and other measures were implemented by Poland’s elected government, not by the Nazis who would later show the Poles how anti-Semitism could really be done. In Poland, anti-Semitism was not imposed from above. It was simply politically expedient.
What amounts to the Polish version of Jim Crow laws hardly rises to the level of mass murder. But it was its predicate, and scholars such as Princeton’s Jan Gross in his “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland,” did find that Poles murdered Jews on their own — as the Germans looked on. If not every Pole was an anti-Semite, then not every Pole had clean hands, either. Even after the war, pogroms erupted in Poland.
I don’t begrudge the Poles their sensitivity. For too long their nation was unfairly characterized as an anti-Semitic cesspool and its incomparable suffering during World War II was largely ignored. But this effort to blame the Holocaust solely on the Germans — and soon, I bet, only on those Germans who were Nazis — is a historical whitewash. The Nazis originated and implemented the murder of Jews. Still, they had help, less in Poland than in some other nations — France, are you paying attention? — and they were often operating in areas where Jews had already been dehumanized.
Comey might have chosen his words better. But I know what he meant. I applaud him for what he said and for sending his agents to the Holocaust museum. He wants them to recognize the universality of evil. In police lingo, it remains armed and dangerous.
Read more from Richard Cohen’s archive.
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Nazi officers talk with citizens of the Warsaw ghetto, Poland, spring 1943. (Photo by AP)
Nazi officers talk with citizens of the Warsaw ghetto, Poland, spring 1943.

Photo by AP

The truth about Poland and the Holocaust

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FBI Director James Comey opened an old historical wound last week when he delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum referring to the “murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places” during World War II. The president of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, called Mr. Comey’s remarks “an insult to thousands of Poles who helped Jews.”
The people of Poland, which had by far the most rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, are not unjustified in their sensitivity. But neither was Mr. Comey saying anything new, or untrue. While the FBI director could have been clearer in the way he expressed his point, President Komorowski protests too much.
It is a well-established historical fact that the Holocaust was not merely a story of German perpetrators, but also accomplices in most countries of Europe. Polish accomplices were not necessarily the most egregious (other countries such as Ukraine, Croatia, and the three Baltic States compete for that dishonor), but they were real. Claude Lanzmann’s groundbreaking 1985 documentary, “The Shoah” dissected this phenomenon, as did Jan T. Gross’s 2001 book, “Neighbors,” on the murder of Jews by Poles in the town of Jedwabne.



Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, pictured here as a boy, circa 1945, with the Polish Catholic woman who saved his life. During the Holocaust, Foxman was saved by his nursemaid, Bronislawa Kurpi, who had him baptized in the Catholic Church in order to hide his true identity.

Courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

Yet, there are fundamental distinctions between the Germans and others. And many people – particularly Poles – often risked their lives to save Jews, including the Polish Catholic woman who saved my own life when I was a boy.
Polish sensitivities are valid as far as they go. Too often over the years, I’ve had to respond to articles or statements about the Holocaust which referred to the “Polish concentration camps.” In fact, the vast majority of the camps were in Poland because that’s where the Jews were, but they were German camps, not Polish. Indeed, Poland was the first victim of Nazi aggression, and it is understandable that they deeply resent the notion that they were responsible for the camps.
The truth about anti-Semitism in Poland is also complicated. While anti-Semitism was indeed a European phenomenon for a thousand years, and while Poland was particularly susceptible to it in the years leading up to World War II, one needs to ask the question: Why were three million Jews living in Poland on the eve of the war? The answer is that, several hundred years earlier, when Jews were expelled from many west European countries, they found a home in Poland. Life was not ideal, and anti-Semitism existed, but Jewish communities could survive and even flourish there over hundreds of years.
Still, the history of 20th century Poland is replete with sorry tales about Jews.
Even before the Holocaust, Polish governments instituted discriminatory laws against Jews in universities and businesses. And there was anti-Semitic violence.
Lanzmann shows in his documentary how many Poles knew exactly what was going on at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz during the war and did not care, and even were eager to seize Jewish properties.
And after the war, when the remnant of Jews returned, there was a terrible pogrom in Kielce. Even today, there are continuing manifestations of anti-Semitism.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Global 100 Survey of anti-Semitic attitudes last year found that 45% of Poles harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, an astounding figure considering what happened to the Jews of Poland.
So, all in all, Poles have a right to set the record straight about their history when it is distorted or conflated with that of the Nazis and Germany. But Mr. Comey was not wrong in what was his essential message: As evil as the Nazis were, their phantasmagoric mission to destroy the Jewish people was made much easier because the public in most European countries, Poland included, too often acted as bystanders and sometimes even as accomplices.
Abraham H. Foxman is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor from Poland.

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Confronting chilling truths about Poland’s wartime history


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Poland Demands Apology Over F.B.I. Director’s Holocaust Remarks

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Poland says still waiting for U.S. to apologize for Holocaust remarks

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland was still waiting for the United States to apologize for remarks by an FBI official that it says implied complicity in the Holocaust during World War Two, a government spokeswoman said on Thursday.
"WARSAW (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. intelligence service told the Polish ambassador to the United States that he regretted his remarks on what Poland has said was an accusation of complicity in the Holocaust, the Polish foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Poland now considers the matter settled, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said.
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FBI director James Comey's remarks, published in the Washington Post last week, prompted an outcry in Poland and drew condemnation in the media and from politicians.
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"The Polish state bears no responsibility for the horrors imposed by the Nazis. I wish I had not used any other country names because my point was a universal one about human nature," he said.
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman said that Comey did not intend to suggest that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust during World War Two.
But when asked by ABC-affiliated broadcaster Wate 6 on Tuesday whether he wanted to apologize for his remarks, Comey said: "I don’t. Except I didn't say Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. In a way I wish very much that I hadn't mentioned any countries because it's distracted some folks from my point.”
This caused further outrage in Poland, prompting Polish officials to say that they were still expecting an apology from the U.S. side."

M.N.: The reaction in the media was very far from "condemnation": see for example the above quoted articles and about 2,300 comments at this point to Ms. Applebaum's article in WP. I think that our Polish friends are obviously overreacting. Is not it the time to close this issue and to contemplate on it in somewhat broader perspective, especially given these very troubling times and circumstances that we all are facing? 

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