Friday 26 January 2018

Holocaust Memorial Day – Anti fascists pledge Never Again to fascist genocide

Today, 27 January, 2018 is Holocaust Memorial Day – the anniversary of the day that the Nazis’ concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945.

UAF supporters have this week been hosting with Stand Up to Racism, events around the country to remember the Holocaust, below.

Remember

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 – even 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, 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, http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/sonderevolt.html

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 Russians.

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, 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 both’s recent attempts to ‘rebrand’. Golden Dawn, in Greece, see their leaders on trial for murder and for a continuing, series of attacks on minorities and refugees.

 

Donald Trump’s racism continues to encourage U S Nazis, despite his ‘apology’ for re tweeting the fascist, Britain First, sect. After Charlottesville, where anti fascist, Heather Heyer was killed by a fascist, U S anti fascists have fought heroically against home grown Nazi groups.

 

UAF’s sister organisation Keerfa has been central to resisting Golden Dawn. But only this month, outrage has followed the vandalism of a Holocaust memorial in Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki.  In the UK, the BNP and EDL have been successfully pushed back by UAF and others. The Nazis in the UK are fragmented, but they seek to grow again, through Islamophobes like the Football Lads Alliance.

 

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 to ensure fascists are rejected by the majority.

 

Holocaust memorial events

Anti-fascists have held a number of meetings in the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day.
Just under 50 people in Bristol heard Sophia Beach, a student locally, talk about the UAF educational trip to Auschwitz death camp last November, picture below. Other speakers included David Weltman, whose parents were Jewish partisan fighters.
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On the same night 60 people joined a Holocaust Memorial meeting in Liverpool, organised by Merseyside UAF, picture below. Speakers included Unison union general secretary Dave Prentis, Dan Carden MP, FBU firefighters’ union north west regional secretary Mark Rowe and Liverpool deputy mayor Ann O’Byrne. Labour councillor Emily Spurrell read an extract from a Holocaust survivor’s testimony.

Dave Prentis of Unison was among those who took part in Liverpool

And SUTR held a similar meeting in Islington in north London on the same night. Speakers included historian and activist, David Rosenberg and Red Saunders, pictured underneath,whose famous letter to the music press, launched Rock Against Racism. Rabbi Herschel Gluck , also spoke, alongside SUTR’S Naima Omar.

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Around 50 people also came to the Holocaust Memorial meeting in Hackney in east London. Labour councillor Soraya Adejarre said the council was determined to fight racism and anti Semitism,whilst in Brixton, South London, speakers included a Mend representative, Nadia who had been on the UAF, Polish trip and Julia Bard, from the Jewish Socialist Group. A short film was played which featured Holocaust survivors, the late and much missed, Esther Brunstein and Leon Greenman.

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On Monday, over people attended a Holocaust Memorial Meeting in Cambridge. It was jointly organised by Cambridge UAF and the local NEU education union. Local teacher Richard Rose described his visit to Auschwitz and the Krakow Ghetto on a UAF educational trip. He explained how the Nazis were able to grow and seize power, and described some of the heroic acts of resistance to them.

 

In Oxford the local SUTR group organised a week-long exhibition around the Holocaust. Over 70 people came on the first day of the exhibition, which incorporated talks from Jewish, Muslim, Roma, LGBT+ and disabled people. Trade unionists, the local Labour MP and councillors also spoke. The exhibition was featured on local BBC news, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQx0MT9duDo&feature=youtu.be

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In Glasgow, anti fascists heard from, alongside others, Sofi Taylor from the STUC Black Workers Committee and Amjid Bashir, local radio presenter and activist.

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Activists report a determined mood to be on guard against today’s fascists. Many came away from the events prepared to build for SUTR rallies in the run-up to national demonstrations against racism on 17 March in London, Glasgow and Cardiff. UAF are organising an anti fascist bloc, on the London demo, details here, https://www.facebook.com/events/1938092923117952/

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