Historical revisionism as an academic divertissement is corrupting, muddling the intellects of generations. For instance, ignoring or obscuring the fact that Soviet socialism (like its sister, National Socialism) was a murderous tool in the hands of large bureaucratic states run by thugs — and thus a target of popular opprobrium and of often bloody opposition — results in a young population that is not ashamed of wearing hats with a red star or of voting for aging socialists known for their fondness toward the USSR. Historical ignorance leads to the resurrection of ideas that have failed and have caused millions of deaths.

But historical revisionism is also used for foreign-policy purposes. Proffered by the highest echelons of a nation’s executive, it is more immediately dangerous, because it lays the foundation for a political posture that ignores key facts and tries to build a diplomatic or security architecture that is hostile to the very order it wants to protect. The most recent and worrisome example of such revisionism comes from the heart of Europe, Berlin, in the words of the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas.

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