On August 22nd 1939, Adolf Hitler gave one of his most infamous speeches to the German generals gathered in his refuge in Obersalzburg. He informed them that he would send the German army to Poland to kill without mercy all members of the Polish race and language – men, women, and children – and create a new living space for the German nation. He said that no one would remember that crime and asked: “Who is still talking about the destruction of the Armenians today?” Hitler’s statement was often wrongly attributed to a genocidal intention directed towards the Jews. However, he spoke about the destruction of the Poles, just a few days before the German attack on Poland. Hitler repeatedly referred to the destruction of the Armenians as an example of a forgotten crime without punishment. He did not take the Armenian genocide as a model, but as a lesson about the world’s indifference to the greatest crimes in history.
In that, unfortunately, he was right. The Ottoman genocide against the Armenians, committed during the First World War, was forgotten in the Hitler era, and remained blanked out long after the Second World War. In Croatia, for example, until today historians have not written a single book or study about the first modern and “complete” genocide in the 20th century in which the Armenian people – the Turkish racists called them “pathogenic microbes”, “plague bacteria”, “parasites”, etc. – were erased from the map of the Ottoman Empire and its successor, the Republic of Turkey. Croatian Ottomanologists and Turkologists carefully avoided this topic in their works. Books about the Ottoman Empire and Turkey written by the foreign authors such as Andrew Mango, who are known as notorious historical revisionists who deny the genocide executed by the Ottoman Turks, have been translated into Croatian. Only a few translated theoretical and literary works deal with this topic, such as Bernard Bruneteau’s The Century of Genocides (2005) and A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation by Eric D. Weitz (2020), and the novels The Bastard of Istanbul (2009) by Elif Shahak, The Sandcastle Girls by Christopher Bohjalian (2015) and The Book of Whispers (2017) by Varujan Vosganian.
Hitler had no doubts about whether Poles should be destroyed. They were a lower race, like other Slavs who, despite their numbers, did not make any cultural contribution to Europe. Even worse than them were Jews. The lofty racial theories quickly descended into the realm of comprehensible vernacular. Hitler labelled Jews a virus, and declared the discovery of that virus as “one of the greatest revolutions that happened in this world”. He was supposed to be the Pasteur and Koch of the 20th century who would invent an antiviral serum. “How many diseases originate from the Jewish virus,” he said. “We will recover only by removing the Jews”. Goebbels called Jews “vermin”, Himmler “lice” that should be exterminated for hygienic reasons, and Rosenberg described them as “an invisible cohesive network of slimy fungi”. The others did not fare well either. Hitler considered Asian and African peoples to be “half-apes” who had not yet reached the stage of development into human beings and “cripples” with whom the Germans must not anything to do.
Mussolini also fought for the new Italian spazio vitale by conquering and subjugating the native populations in the countries located along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The frenzied fascist dictator was known for his unbridled verbal outbursts. According to the diary entries of his foreign minister and brother-in-law, Count Galleazo Ciano, Mussolini called the United States the land of “Negros and Jews”, declared the French a “heinous people” who had been ruined by “alcohol, syphilis and the press”, and the English a nation that no longer has its “uterus in the right place”. The “decadent Albanian race” was supposed to be subjugated by a policy that “would be no worse than the extermination of the redskins prepared by the Americans with the help of alcohol”. He declared the Balkan Muslims to be the remnants of the “Turkish filth”. The Vatican was a “Catholic ghetto” without which Christianity would remain a “Palestinian sect”.
The recorder of Mussolini’s thoughts, Count Galleazo Ciano de Costelazzo, who, after the Italian occupation of the Croatian coast, added Count “e di Baccari” to his noble title, paying tribute to his father who allegedly fought in the Great War in Bakar, wasn’t much better. That temporary pilot of the Italian Air Force enjoyed orgastically in destroying other countries and peoples. On November 1st, 1940, he jotted down in his diary: “I took advantage of a fine day to properly bomb Thessaloniki”. He called Argentina a “second-rate country made of rabble” inhabited by “innumerable scum of humanity", divided Belgians into “boasters and bastards”, and ridiculed Romanians as an arrogant, lying, and vain people who refer to their dubious Latin origins.
Even after the Second World War, there were many verbal racist and chauvinist outbursts by despots, dictators, and psychopaths in power or near power in various countries, but until February 2022, the highest state leaders and the state propaganda apparatus of a major power did not use a similar public discourse. In February 2022, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, gave an infamous speech announcing war in Ukraine. Ukraine and Ukrainians, Putin said, are a fictional country and nation. Lenin and Stalin invented them, gave them Russian land, language, and culture, and now that Nazi mob has turned against Russia. Implicitly labeling Ukrainians as some kind of inferior Russians, Putin said that the Russian army will liberate and “denazify” Ukraine and return it to the right path. This is the goal of his “special military operation”.
After intense debates about the end of history and the beginning of a post-history in which supposedly nothing will ever be the same again, the world faced a conventional imperial war for other people’s territory, people and natural resources on it, at the cost of mass murders and the complete or partial destruction of the native population. Russians have already committed a massive urbicide and culturocide in Ukraine. Some elements of genocide are also visible, such as the forced removal of children from the Ukrainian community in which they were born to Russia and the resulting Russification. It is obvious that there are also forced deportations of Ukrainians from militarily occupied areas to Russia. Mass reprisals and murders are taking place, but it is not yet known whether war crimes and crimes against humanity will turn into genocide. There is talk of mass rapes and sexual abuse of women as components of gendercide. There is genocidal rhetoric at work, which is directed not only at Ukrainians, but also at other peoples in the environment that are not to the liking of the Russian authorities.
Pravda – once the official “internationalist” newspaper of the Soviet communists, and today Putin’s war chauvinist trumpet – said that “the history of Poland has not taught them anything” and that they clearly want a fourth partition of the country or self-destruction, and the Russians, it seems, would have nothing against it to participate in the division of Poland again. Poles are “a nation of imbeciles” and “the hyena of Europe”. They can thank Stalin for everything they have, who freed them from the Nazis and gave them vast German territory in the west, without which Poland would not exist today. Of course, Pravda did not add that Stalin took away even more territory from them in the east and annexed it to the Soviet Union. Slovakia is a “nonsense” country, the “most mediocre” country in Europe, which should be divided between Hungary, the Czech Republic, and western Ukraine, which is actually western Russia. No one would even notice because no one distinguishes Slovakia from Slovenia anyway. The “fictional” state of Moldova will end up in the “dustbin of history”, where it belongs. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are ordinary “Baltic stink bugs”.
At that point, Russian politics verbally came closest to typical genocidal rhetoric, which preceded the destruction of entire nations. Before the slaughter and destruction, all of them were reduced to bacteria, viruses, microbes, cockroaches, worms, rats, lice, insects, maggots, leeches, grasshoppers... – vermin that should be exterminated from the face of the earth so that they do not infect and destroy the “healthy” societies and peoples. But the stink bug, as far as I know, is the original Russian contribution to genocidal rhetoric, suggesting that it would be best to plug your nose and stomp on that vermin. It is not that the current Russian rulers and their propagandists did not have domestic role models. While preparing the “class genocide”, Lenin labeled kulaks and bourgeois leeches, spiders, insects, bedbugs, fleas... But stink bugs?
And then Dmitry Medvedev, former Prime Minister and President of Russia, a decades member of Putin’s Kremlin camarilla who turned into the biggest monster, said the following about Ukrainians on June 6th, 2022: “I hate those bastards and degenerates. I will do everything to make them disappear”. As if that wasn’t enough, on July 21st, 2022, he said “that Ukraine could disappear from the world map”. It is a completely clearly expressed genocidal intention – a conscious intention to biologically destroy an entire nation. Just days later, Medvedev asked the world if he was sure Ukraine would exist in two years. In order to justify his bad reputation, on June 16th, 2022, commenting on the visit of Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi to Kiev, he called the French, Germans and Italians “European lovers of frogs, sausages and spaghetti”. He declared the visit of the leaders of the three big European the state useless and ominously said that “the clock is ticking”. Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, the German plenipotentiary in the NDH, a conceited old Nazi villain who played the role of an aristocrat, admittedly did not call Italians “spaghetti-eaters” but “macaroni-eaters”. What signs of similarity between the former Nazi and current Russian mentality and rhetoric!
It will take decades to uncover how and why such a terrible development of Russian politics and rhetoric took place. Croatian Russologists and Kremlinologists did not prepare us for that. Moreover, a few days before the military attack, they announced publicly, from all the media, that there would be no war and that Putin would not attack Ukraine now or ever. The brutalization of Russian political discourse resonated even more strongly in Western societies that are anesthetized by the ideology and practice of political correctness. I hope that this anesthesia will not cause amnesia and contribute to the suppression and oblivion of the Russian crimes in Ukraine. If so, some new political autocrat and psychopath twenty years later could justify his criminal plans and actions with the words: “Who is still talking about the destruction of Ukrainians today?”