Written by Mikhail Falaleev
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova
28 March 2022. RG.RU
President of the All-Russian public organisation ‘International Police Association Russian Section’, Doctor of Law, Honoured Lawyer of Russia, Lieutenant General Yury Zhdanov told RG whether it is possible to stop the new ‘brown plague’ and how to do it.
Yury Nikolaevich, why, in your opinion, did Nazism in its most cynical form revive not in Germany but in Ukraine? Even in the Baltic States, not to mention Hungary, Italy, France, England, the USA, the Nazis are not so brazen, nor they are given such a will. And here is Ukraine. Despite all that blood shed there in the war against Nazism…
Mr Yury Zhdanov: We must frankly admit: on the one hand, the Ukrainian Nazis were not finished off in time, then they were forgiven for the sake of some momentary political trends. On the other hand, the ‘friendship of peoples’ game began. They say one fraternal people - the Ukrainian - cannot hate and exterminate other fraternal peoples - Russian and Belarusian. Also - Jewish and Polish. Yes, the people can’t but its individual representatives can.
Denazification of Ukraine is one of the main goals of the Special Military Operation. What will it look like in practice?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: The process will be difficult and, I suppose, very painful. By the way, it has already been implemented and very effectively. Look at Germany - tolerance is off the scale there, migrants from Asia and Africa have more rights than Germans themselves.
Where has it all began?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Legally, the denazification of Germany was the result of the Potsdam Agreement of 1945, within the framework of which documents were adopted that recorded the results of the Potsdam Conference held from 17 July to 2 August 1945 in closed mode without the participation of the press. Decisions were made on the new political and territorial structure of Germany, its demilitarisation and denazification, reparations paid by Germany and the fate of German war criminals. According to the Allies’ concept, consolidated by the results of the Potsdam Agreement, denazification provided for the elimination of all Nazi organisations, the cleansing of German and Austrian society, culture, media, economy, law and politics from any kind of nationalist ideas. The historic document that implemented the strategic concepts of the Potsdam Agreement of 1945 on the denazification of Germany was the Control Council Directive No. 38 of 12 October 1946 on the ‘arrest and punishment of war criminals, Nazis and militarists and internment, control and monitoring of potentially dangerous Germans’.
This Directive was the most severe document, which specified the denazification provided for by the Potsdam Agreement. The main responsibility for this process was to be assumed by the commanders of the occupation zones. I am talking about the documentary side in such detail to stress that the rigidity that followed was internationally recognised and legally formalised.
And what was the rigidity?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: All, absolutely all adult Germans had to be tried before the denazification courts, where their behaviour during the Third Reich was to be considered. The persons subject to denazification were divided into five groups: main criminals, criminals, minor criminals, sympathisers or rehabilitated persons. Each adult German was given an exact definition of the type of their behaviour applicable to each category, and a possible punishment was established. The punishment could range from the death penalty or long prison terms to confiscation of property, ban on professional activities, reduced wages, travel restrictions or mandatory registration with the authorities.
Let’s estimate the scale. The total number of Germans involved in Nazism, according to the Allies, in 1945-1948 was about 3.5 million people. However, the entire German nation was recognised as suffering from Nazism. Therefore, even the civilian population had to undergo the denazification procedure. Immediately after the surrender of Germany, a filing cabinet consisting of 8 million registration cards containing information about members and candidates for the Nazi Party membership appeared in the hands of the Allies.
And how did the denazification procedure itself go?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: The process of denazification in different occupation zones of Germany was carried out in different ways. In the Russian and French zones it was more loyal while in the American zone - very tough. In the US occupation zone, in 545 courts, the American military command sorted out more than 900 thousand cases. The governing bodies, justice, secondary and higher schools were consistently purged, from where about half a million former members of the Nazi Party - 80 percent of all judges and teachers - were dismissed in 1945-1948. While textbooks were being rewritten and new curricula were being formed, the children were taught by pensioners and students. 200 new vessels with rejuvenated the workforce have been created. All previously operating media were banned, the process of creating new forms of independent press was actively underway, as in the USA, and the centralised approach of the Soviet press was copied in the Soviet zone.
The denazification process involved the entire civilian population of Germany, who were forcibly shown films about war crimes and concentration camps. One of the harshest forms of the procedure of denazification of the German population in 1945, imprinted in people’s emotional memory for many decades, was sending the Germans to the places of mass graves of shot civilians. They were forced to dig up the bodies of dead Jews, Russians, Poles, Hungarians by hand and by improvised means, to carry the mutilated, disfigured bodies of the dead, including children and infants, and to rebury them. That is, the Americans literally organised a shocking ‘confrontation’ of peaceful Germans with the results of Nazi atrocities, which not only caused the Germans to experience emotional shock, horror and distress but also subsequently to experience global guilt and shame of the entire nation for tacit involvement in crimes. This became a long-term rigid ‘vaccination’ against the spread of the ideology of Nazism. So, fans of everything American may take note of this example.
Do you believe such methods are applicable in Ukraine?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Of course, it is impossible to completely copy the Potsdam directives and decisions. But it is necessary to know and remember about them. It has already happened! And we should act based on international agreements, including UN resolutions.
So the UN together with the ‘international community’ do not seem to approve of our actions in Ukraine, do they?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Indeed, now the UN is increasingly becoming a discussion platform. It also happens that the words spoken there have no influence on anything. Nevertheless, they still remember what Nazism and fascism are, despite the ostentatious unconsciousness of the United States. And the UN still has international legal principles of denazification, which no one cancels or disputes. For example, there is still the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 260 (III) of 9 December 1948. Or – the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly ‘Combatting glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’, adopted by the General Assembly recently on 17 December 2015.
That is, in Europe, they only pretend that they do not suspect anything about Ukrainian Nazism?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Of course, they know and understand everything. And these resolutions are insurance against the judgement of history. But we also have other international documents. Thus, in 2012, the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations adopted the Model Law ‘On the inadmissibility of actions for the rehabilitation of Nazism, glorification of Nazi criminals and their accomplices’. Also - recommendations on improving the national legislation of the CSTO Member States in the field of countering Nazism and its manifestations dated 5 November 2019. It is the spirit and letter of these documents that we must follow.
Well, no one argues with the spirit and the letter. And what, in your opinion, should be the specific mechanism for the execution of these documents?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Back in 2015, our parliament gave quite specific recommendations to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. Thus, it was strongly recommended to carry out criminal and administrative prosecution against persons involved in the propaganda of Nazism, denial of its crimes, participation in neo-Nazi and similar entities. A list of such Ukrainian organisations is attached in the document. The perpetrators of the genocide of the peaceful population in DPR and LPR, acts of terrorism, especially severe and grave crimes will be brought to criminal responsibility and punished. In general, they will have to answer for everything that members of neo-Nazi and nationalist organisations and groups have done. The legislative acts in force in Ukraine that provide for the rehabilitation, encouragement - awards, benefits - and glorification of Nazi criminals, as well as regulate state support and holding nationalist projects and events at the state level - everything will be abolished.
There will be an eradication and prohibition of nationalist narratives, public appeals and glorification of Nazis in political programmes, in the activities of state authorities and law enforcement agencies, in the educational process and in the media. Of course, the activities of nationalist and neo-Nazi structures will be banned, their property and financial assets will be confiscated. It will be prohibited for persons with nationalist attitudes or convicted of genocide and war crimes to hold government and leadership positions. And most importantly, denazification will be enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution.
That is, we will not summon to court every adult Ukrainian suspected of nationalist views, will we? And we will not force the remains of the victims in Donbass to be reburied with the Ukrainians own hands, either?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: We will not. But they will have to visit the mass graves of genocide victims on the territory of Donbass, get acquainted with the results of investigations, documents and information about the crimes of nationalists on the territory of their country.