Sunday, October 03, 2004

Kerry's Treblinka slip didn't go unnoticed in his opponents' blogocamp, though some admitted it was inconsequential. VodkaPundit, for example, wrote this:

On the other hand, the "Treblinka Square" flap is a dry hole for Republicans. It was just a mental burp on Kerry's part, and a dumb thing to get upset about--particularly given Bush's own propensity for mixing up names and mangling the mother tongue in general. I wouldn't vote for Kerry if he handed me the keys to his Ducati, but still, I can't find it in me to blame him for flubbing a foreign name in front of 55 million people.

In one of the comments to this post, some guy referred to Lubyanka as "a Russian landmark" - which, in a way, is a correct definition. Similarly, Treblinka and Auschwitz are Poland's landmarks. You can tour those places, almost as you would the Holocaust Memorial Museum. But there's horrible and very recent history behind these names, and that makes Lubyanka and Treblinka and Auschwitz immensely more than the mere landmarks. So, perhaps, it's wrong to call them that.

In another comment to the same post, someone calling himself Gonzo fumed about this: "Kerry's flippant attempt to look like he was an intelligence wonk who rubbed elbows with those who unearthed the KGB's secrets came off horribly wrong. He tried to name-drop like an overzealous job seeker, but he dropped the name of a death camp." Yes, he did. But Lubyanka was a death camp, too. A humongous one. Its history embraces both the victims, millions of them, and their killers. Treblinka's history has the same components. Kerry, one of whose relatives perished in Treblinka, said he had seen "reams of files with names in them" at Lubyanka - and this means he was talking about the victims. Gonzo's grandfather "was a WWII vet and saw the camps," and he passed to his grandson "laminated photos his company took of the attrocities they saw." To imply that Kerry was bragging about his association with the KGB's big shots is as inhuman as to say that Gonzo's grandfather took pictures of the Nazi camp horrors in order to brag about his war experience back home.

Another Treblinka-related entry - by Mad Minerva, a history expert - really cracked me up, though. After quoting from the transcript, she provided this very honest account of a morning of research:

At the time I remember thinking that it just didn't sound right, but I couldn't put my finger on why. (Or on why "Treblinka" sounded familiar too.) Then this morning The Rottweiler pointed out that Treblinka isn't the location of the fomer KGB headquarters. It was a Nazi concentration camp. So I went snooping around. I hold a BA in history -- surely that's good for something!

And look what I found:

Treblinka was indeed a Nazi concentration camp, located about halfway between Warsaw and Bialystok in Poland, in operation from 1942-3. Incidentally, there were prisoner uprisings at Treblinka, as at the camp of Sobibor, and much documentation in general. There's even a PBS web feature on Treblinka. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 300,000+ Jews from Warsaw's Jewish ghetto were deported to Treblinka in a late 1942 mass deportation.

So where were the actual headquarters of the Soviet KGB? Lubyanka Square in Moscow.

You know, I don't care if Kerry's trying to show off how much he knows (or thinks he knows) about foreign affairs. But please, Senator, do get the place names straight.


On a different note, the online store of Sovok of the Week has a fair and balanced selection of the 2004 campaign buttons, stickers, mugs, t-shirts and more, with the candidates' names in Russian.

Kerry/Edwards supporters will find their stuff HERE; Bush/Cheney supporters should go HERE.

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