Wednesday 18 January 2017

Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘Never again’

Friday 27 January 2017 is Holocaust Memorial Day – the anniversary of the day that the Nazis’ concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945.

UAF supporters will be joining events around the country to remember the Holocaust.


We believe it is important to remember the reality of what it means when fascists take power – so we can redouble our efforts to drive back the fascists today.

When Hitler’s Nazis came to power in Germany, they smashed working class organisations, political opposition and civil institutions – right down to the Boy Scouts – paving the way for the Holocaust. Concentration camps were established, imprisoning a wide variety of the Nazis political opposition.

Later, as the War was being lost by the Nazis in the early 1940s, the intensity of the barbarity was increased in camps like Auschwitz – Birkenau. Train lines brought hundreds of thousands, every month to camps across occupied Poland where those deemed fit to work by SS doctors were used as forced labour, until they died. Others, like the old, the sick and children, were sent straightaway to be gassed.

It should always be remembered that there were heroic acts of resistance to the Nazis atrocities, from the tremendous uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, to inside the camps. Rebellions by the Sonderkommandos, in Auschwitz, are rightly seen as moments, when in the worst circumstances imaginable, brave men and women struck back at the SS and their allies. More on the revolts can be found here,

In the Holocaust, the Nazis murdered six million Jews, along with millions of others who the fascists considered to be “undesirable” or “inferior”, including Roma people, socialists and communists, trade union members, gay men and lesbians, disabled people, black people, and non-Jewish Polish and Russian people.

The mass murder of the Holocaust was carried out on an industrial scale and has been called killing “by assembly line”, with death camps linked by the European rail network. The planned, relentless murder of the Holocaust is unique, though tragically, not the sole mass murder or genocide, historically. The death camps were organised to create a massive, killing machine.

Today’s targets…

Today, in Britain and across Europe, fascist parties wish, as Hitler did with Jews and others, to scapegoat refugees and Muslims, alongside, their venal anti Semitism. They range from the serious electoral threat of the Front National in France to Hungary’s Jobbik,  despite the latter’s recent attempts to rebrand. Golden Dawn, in Greece, see their leaders on trial for murder and for a series of attacks on minorities and refugees.

UAF’s sister organisation Keerfa has been central to resisting Golden Dawn. But only this week, a Golden Dawn MP, with accomplices, physically attacked teachers and parents at a school, in a show of anti refugee hate.  In the UK, the BNP and EDL have been successfully pushed back by UAF and others. The Nazis in the UK are currently fragmented, but they seek to grow again.

While in the 1930s and 1940s the Nazis’ main targets were Jews, in recent years, fascists, especially in Eastern Europe, target Roma people, alongside Muslims. In some countries, like Budapest, British fascists have visited fascist paramilitaries. Thus the need to keep organising, broadly and deeply, to ensure fascists are rejected by the majority.

Never again!

First they came for the communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a communist
Then they came for the socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller, survivor of Nazi concentration camps at Sachsenhausen and Dachau

Holocaust deniers, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, or those in Austria behind the so called Freedom Party, (FPO) wish to denigrate and mock the horrors of Nazi Germany. Great efforts by anti fascists in Austria, last year, saw the FPO narrowly lose its Presidential bid.

That is why events like Holocaust Memorial Day are important. We remember the Holocaust in order to learn the lessons of history and redouble our campaigning against racism and fascism today.

We cannot let Muslims, Roma or anyone else be scapegoated, isolated and murdered the way Jewish people were under the Nazis. We remember many like Esther Brunstein, a Holocaust Survivor, who has sadly died recently, who spent her life opposing fascism. She worked consistently for instance, with the Anti Nazi League and inspired a new generation of anti fascists. We will publish a tribute to her, shortly.

When we remember the Holocaust, we say: ‘Never again!’

Find out more

There are many sources of information about the Holocaust, but for a quick, concise guide with facts, figures and dates, you can view or download this very useful wallchart produced by the University and College Union (pdf file). It includes a section on resistance to fascism in more recent times.

Last December, UAF again ran an educational trip to Krakow and Auschwitz Birkenau.  We will do again later this year, please contact us for more details.

Below are some of the events UAF and Stand Up to Racism are organising to mark the day. –  Oxford –  Islington – Manchester – Edinburgh – Waltham Forest – Merseyside – South London – Leeds = Glasgow – Portsmouth

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