On the 11th July 1943 the polish inhabitants of the village Kisielin were slaughtered.
This village was situated in the Volhynia region of central eastern Europe, a location around South-Eastern Poland, South-Western Belarus and Western Ukraine. This was not carried out by German forces. This was carried out by units of and sympathisers with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a nationalist group with a long and complex history.
And was the beginning of a genocidal campaign which would spread into Eastern Galicia and by the end of the summer of 1943 would have claimed upwards of 100,000 lives. The German authorities did not intervene.
(ask any military buff or WWII in Europe reader about July 1943 and they will probably cite the Battle of Kursk in Russia as the most important event of the time)
The events, the peoples and the organisation involved have only been chosen because today is the anniversary of what could be termed the start of one of the many slaughters of civilians during WWII; itself one of many wars renowned for such activity.
If I were so inclined I could most likely fill up the rest of 2020 with daily posts on the evidence of mass killings of civilians of one group by mobs or militias (much the same thing) of another group and present depressing but overwhelming evidence that:
Firstly: No one nation, people or society has clean hands when it comes to the mistreatment of another nation, people or society. We all of us have dirty places we would rather not have historians rake over, or if they do we get very annoyed and start hurling insults at the said historians and their ‘agenda’
Secondly: Nationalism or people ‘fighting for their freedom’ is not a concept replete with tolerant, democratically minded folk fired up with the urge to throw off a repressive government. History is depressingly full of examples when a people have gained their freedom they (a) Start persecuting minorities within their borders (b) Start of civil war. Basically nationalist groups want things run their way by their people.
Freedom is a word too often bandied around; so much so it becomes devalued to ‘I don’t care about you ‘I ‘ want things to be MY way. Heritage and National History are also terms which can, are and will be used to cover up the nasty little back-stabbings, hypocrisies and excuses for dirty deeds which call into question the general moral compass of a people who when analysed can be shown to be just as intolerant as their previous masters.
The flaw lies not within one government (which ever ones happens to be the fashionable whipping boy of the time), there are plenty who can compete for that prize at any given decade. Although it is comfortable to blame one form of government for being lesser than another (ie ‘ours’) a brief trip around a nation’s sounding boards will reveal (again) no nation is spotless. Spare me revolutionary talk that’s for dreamers, malcontents and folk who’ve read the book or watched the film V for Vendetta and took it seriously,
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is the painfully accurate commentary. Anarchy may be fine for very small groups of easy going people who live far from anyone else.
The flaw lies within the person. Within each and everyone of us, the sometimes very small itch to scratch and blame ‘those people’ for being wrong and thus worthless, other times the frustrated anger to rage against anyone who opposes our views. It works like this:
‘I have strong views, based on earnestly thought out opinions and justifiable grievances.
YOU are narrow-minded and don’t comprehend. YOU might even be dangerous. ‘
We all do it, we all dash to judgement and ‘sound off’. Fortunately most of us vent it off to long-suffering friends or family, the TV or the ever voracious Social Media. Very few of us take to the streets waving banners suggesting ‘Someone Else’ is the problem.
And there is the tricky danger. There are manifold injustices and inequalities. Legion of issues which need reform or revaluation. The problem lies in when we start to focus those issues as being the fault of one section of society, when we parcel certain groups of folk up. True you can censure some for their Intolerance or Irresponsibility; but to pick on the whole section they come from? Might as well build a huge cage to lock us all in and fire the keys off on a journey to the Sun.
What happened on the 11th July 1943 in one part of central and eastern Europe is an indication and warning of when our flaws are left to fester down the centuries, when one ill-deed or one piece of ignorant is allowed to take root as a general and indisputable series of facts. Sure we can all cite the ‘Payback Excuse’, trouble is: there is Payback for Payback for Payback for Payback….you get the idea.
Never fool yourself into thinking ‘it couldn’t happen here’. Just look down your own history and not that many miles for where you live (even five hundred miles is not very far in global terms), there’s the warning.
And never think you would not be on the giving or receiving end of injustices; the circumstances which lead down those roads are always fearfully close, Six Degrees of Separation does not just relate to relationships of people; it can apply to circumstances.
When it comes down to it The Only Acceptable Intolerance is the Intolerance of Intolerance
The rest is tragedy and woe waiting to happen.