There are hundreds of statues and monuments in the United States and around the world to people who abetted or took part in the murder of Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. The Forward has, for the first time, documented them in this collection of articles. For a guide to each country’s memorials click here.
Zedelgem — A monument to the Waffen-SS in the middle of Western Europe.
The description of this “Latvian Beehive for Freedom,” erected in 2018, says it “symbolizes freedom in all its aspects,” adding it’s in memory of Latvian prisoners of war who’d been imprisoned in a nearby camp. The sculptor describes it as uniting “the common European values and symbol language understood by all Europeans with something special and visually characteristic only to Latvia.”
What the monument doesn’t contain is symbols of the Waffen-SS, which is who the “beehive for freedom” commemorates. The Latvian prisoners of war were none other than the Latvian Legion, a unit in the Waffen-SS, which was the military wing of the Nazi party responsible for, among other crimes, the Holocaust. Many of the men in the Legion came from local auxiliary police battalions, which assisted the Germans with massacring Jews. Three-quarters of Latvian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
The Legion was composed of the 15th Waffen Grenadier (1st Latvian) and the 15th Waffen Grenadier (2nd Latvian) divisions in the Waffen-SS. The Anti-Defamation League shows the 15th Division’s insignia as an example of hate signs used by neo-Nazis.
It’s unclear how this monument (which was partly and proudly paid for by the town) came to be an hour’s drive from EU headquarters. It’s likely that the whitewashing of Nazi collaborators as “freedom fighters” — a common tactic employed by Holocaust revisionists across Eastern Europe — worked, which is why a town in Belgium, which lost 12,000 soldiers and 74,000 civilians to the Nazis, now has a monument celebrating the Waffen-SS.
Below, a Latvian collaborator kicks the bodies of Jewish women and children into a ditch after their execution, December 15, 1942.
Below, Latvian SS veterans and their relatives march in a parade celebrating the Latvian Legion, March 16, 2012.
For more glorification of Latvian Waffen-SS soldiers, see the Latvia section.
Nazi collaborator monuments around the world
Lev Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, Amazon’s Debut of the Month, a Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program selection, and winner of the Premio Salerno Libro d’Europa. Mr. Golinkin, a graduate of Boston College, came to the US as a child refugee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov (now called Kharkiv) in 1990. His writing on the Ukraine crisis, Russia, the far right, and immigrant and refugee identity has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC, The Boston Globe, Politico Europe, and Time.com, among others; he has been interviewed by MSNBC, NPR, ABC Radio, WSJ Live and HuffPost Live.