Russia orders libraries to ditch 'Nazi' books by British historians

5th August 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian officials have ordered libraries to remove books by well-known British historians John Keegan and Antony Beevor, saying they promote Nazi-era stereotypes, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

A decree issued by the Sverdlovsk regional education ministry in the Urals told school and university libraries to "check the availability of books" by the historians and "take measures to remove them from access by students and teaching staff."

Both Keegan, who died in 2012, and Beevor are reputed military historians with a focus on World War II.

Beevor's award-winning bestsellers, particularly "Berlin: The Downfall 1945", have been criticised in Russia for focusing on atrocities committed by the advancing Red Army.

Sverdlovsk officials claimed that unspecified books by the authors "propagate stereotypes formed during the Third Reich", according to the scan of the decree posted by local news website E1.

A spokeswoman for the region's governor, Yulia Voronina, confirmed the decree to AFP, adding that the library inspection is ongoing.

In a statement sent to AFP, the regional administration said that "many historians believe that books by authors such as John Keegan and Antony Beevor misinterpret information about World War II events, contradict historical documents and are infused with stereotypes of Nazi propaganda."

Russia has intensified its campaign against Western influences this year.

According to the ministry's decree, Beevor and Keegan's books have been published in Russia by the Open Society Foundations of US billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Last month the upper house of parliament drew up a list of "undesirable" organisations recommended for banning, including Soros's Open Society Foundations.

The international grant-giving network was active in Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s but no longer has an office in the country.

The Open Society Foundations have been vilified by Russian officials for alleged meddling in national affairs. They had funded a book programme in Russia which supplied regional libraries at a time when state funding ran dry.

Pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia last month denounced the programme, saying it "planted the required ideology under the guise of philanthropy and enlightenment."


© 2015 AFP

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