Despite the horrors of Nazi Germany’s atrocities in the Second World War and the Nuremburg Tribunal having clearly defined the SS as a criminal organisation, the governments of Estonia and Latvia are permitting veterans of the 20th Estonian SS Division and veterans of the Latvian Legion, respectively, to march annually in the respective capitals of Tallinn and Riga.

It should also be noted that this year, veterans of the Latvian Legion were also honoured in Liepaja.

Holocaust historians and Russian historians, together with the Simon Wisenthal Centre, have long documented that the 20th Estonian SS Division and the Latvian Legion committed war crimes against Jews, Soviet civilians and Red Army prisoners during the war.

Yet, barely any mention is made of the SS veteran parades in Estonia and Latvia by British mainstream journalists, and no British government, to this day, has condemned them. Furthermore, the EU remains silent on the subject.

One can only try and imagine the outcry – and rightly so – if SS veteran parades were held in Berlin today.

Russian fury

Russia has reacted with fury at what is taking place in Estonia and Latvia.

At the end of 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a Russian-initiated resolution condemning the glorification of former members of the SS. However, the United States voted against the resolution while the EU abstained from the vote.

Responding to the US and EU stance on the resolution, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that: “We are highly perplexed and regret the fact that the US voted against this document, while the delegations of EU member states abstained during the vote on the resolution, which was backed by the overwhelming majority of UN member states.

"We hope that the adoption of the resolution will send a clear signal to those countries where there is a long overdue need to take most decisive measures to counter increased attempts at glorifying Nazism, including those who served with the Waffen-SS.”

Lithuania, Hungary

The yearly parades by SS veterans in Tallinn and Riga are, inevitably, creating nationalist sentiments and encouraging anti-Semitism in not just Estonia and Latvia but also in the other Baltic State of Lithuania, which is another EU and NATO member.

Last year saw the reburial, with full honours, in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, of Juozas Ambrazevičius, the prime minister of the short-lived Lithuanian government which was established following the Nazi occupation of the country in 1941. Historians and Holocaust survivors hold Ambrazevicius responsible for having collaborated with the Nazis in exterminating Lithuania’s Jews.

Commenting on the reburial, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the act was “deeply hurtful to the families and memory of thousands of Jewish victims.”

Dr Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, has highlighted how in Hungary, statues of the war-time leader Admiral Horthy, who was responsible for the deportation of Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz, are being erected across the country.

US, EU indifference

According to Dr Zuroff, the US and the EU have not made “any serious attempt to combat these dangerous phenomena” in the Baltic States and Hungary.

The crushing of Nazism in 1945 symbolised the victory of freedom and civilisation over the most malignant force the world has ever seen.

Yet, today in Europe, SS veteran parades are now an annual occurrence in Estonia and Latvia.

The Americans and Europeans need to remind themselves of what their countries fought against - and fought for - in the Second World War. By refusing to condemn the SS veteran parades in Estonia and Latvia, they are complicit in fuelling anti-Semitism and nationalism.

And, finally, the Americans and Europeans need to explain to their Second World War veterans why they are indifferent to SS veteran parades taking place on the very continent that these heroic men and women helped to liberate from the Nazi yoke 68 years ago.

Dr Marcus Papadopoulos is Editor of Politics First magazine. He writes here in a personal capacity.