A reminder of the Nazis

Leaflets distributed last week outside a synagogue in Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine, are evoking more memories of Europe in the 1930s.

A group of militant pro-Russians handed the leaflets to people leaving services demanding that they register as Jews (with a registration fee) and provide a list of all the property they own.

They must register “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” according to a Ukrainian news agency.

A story in Britain’s Daily Mail says the leaflet orders “citizens of Jewish nationality” over the age of 16 to pay a $50 registration fee. They will be issued special passports “marking the confession of faith.”

The leaflets were distributed by three men in ski masks who declared themselves citizens of the “Donetsk People’s Republic.”

The leader of the group denied responsibility for the leaflets, but said the DPR does not recognize the current Ukrainian government as legitimate. They have seized government buildings in the region.

Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the leaflets as “grotesque” and asked the militants to abide by the deal struck by the U.S., Russia and the Ukraine that would provide for the return of the buildings to the government.

We hope the deal struck by Kerry holds and that Vladimir Putin has not embarked on an attempt to rebuild a Russian empire. As of this writing, buildings in Eastern Ukraine have not been returned to government control.

The actions of pro-Russia factions are reminiscent of the bullyboy tactics used by the Nazis in the 1930s. The attempt to register Jews has vastly escalated that bullying and is an even closer parallel to the Nazis.

The world needs to be on alert. This kind of hatred needs to be stopped in its tracks.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.