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The Shadow of the Past and the Hope for a better Future

The Shadow of the Past and the Hope for a better Future

Last Saturday, 14 February 2009, thousands of people followed the international call to take an active stand against Europe's biggest neo-nazi gathering in Dresden (D). Several demo-tracks of the regional platform 'Geh Denken' - a broad alliance of diverse national and international NGOs, the UNITED Network, German trade unions, politicians and local churches - and the (inter)national antifascist alliance 'No Pasaran!' occupied the city center of Dresden with colourful demonstrations against right-wing extremism and were able to send out a meaningful anti-fascist message throughout Europe. With local, nation-wide and international participation in the demonstrations it was possible to block the city centre of Dresden and prevent that the neo-nazi march takes it's apparently 'traditional route', passing by the city's Synagogue.

Nevertheless, this day in Dresden the European neo-nazi scene mobilised its biggest gathering and obscured the city's commemoration of the allied bombings in 1945 with a dark shadow of the past. Although beforehand local and national politicians stated unmistakable their resistance against right-wing extremism, the black crowd of neo-nazis could march for hours under massive police protection through Dresden. It became clear that the local authorities decided to let the neo-nazi's march undisturbed and an enormous amount of police forces from several German states prevented with all possibilities the counter-demonstrators to interfere or come close to this shameful and revisionist manifestation.

The neo-nazis tried to present themselves as 'moderate' and silently carried their banners, with slogans like: 'Yesterday Dresden - Today Gaza'; 'In remembrance of the victims of the bombing-holocaust - Never forgiven! Never forgot!'; 'Honour to whom honour is due' etc.
Shocking was the growing participation of women in the neo-nazi march and the picture of little children walking with 'mummy and daddy' or being carried on 'daddy's shoulders' within a crowd of boneheads. Anyway, violent attacks during arrival and departure to/from the demonstration, against supposed 'left-wing people' and union busses, as well as harassments of people who don't fit in the picture of the far right groups showed the true face of the neo-nazis. These assaults are not individual cases in Saxony, but daily practice of far right groups that terrorise and claim entire districts and youth clubs. The local statistic counts 401 assaults of right-wing extremists in 2008, which is an increase of 30% compared with the last year - maybe this explains why the neo-nazi march could walk protected and undisturbed through the city and why many local citizens of Dresden decided to stay at home or spend a 'normal' Saturday instead of taking an active stand against the growing far right in their community. Independently of the victims Dresden's citizens have to bemoan due to World War II, it is necessary to prevent that history repeats. Dresden has become a symbol for the extreme right and the occasion on 13-14 February is misused in a massive scale. The annual gathering of neo-nazis to supposedly mourn the victims of the allied bombings in the end of World War II has nothing to do with dignified commemoration, nor with freedom of speech - it openly celebrates revisionism and holocaust denial, strengthen boundaries between fascist brotherhoods and attempt to promote the anti-democratic movement.

Dresden won't be able to close its eyes towards right-wing extremism and will have to deal also in upcoming years with the doubtful image of being the host of Europe's biggest neo-nazi gathering. Nevertheless, the this years counter actions showed that more and more people are getting active against the far right tendencies in Europe and Dresden won't have to struggle alone for a future without hate.

The upcoming struggles...
...against right-wing extremism take place on all levels and the European Parliament election, which will be held in the 27 member states of the European Union, is one of it.

It is important to monitor the national far right parties, its strategies and campaigns, as well as to raise awareness in public about the threat of a general rightward-shift in politic and society. The UNITED and Searchlight networks will monitor the European Parliament election 2009 and gather information, which will be published European-wide.
We hope you will stand united with us in this struggle against the political rise of the far right in Europe:
- use the information UNITED together with Searchlight will publish to set up information campaigns on local level;
- do own research about the political parties in your country (especially in respect to the upcoming European Parliament election);
- raise awareness about the danger of far right political parties and the possible aftermaths in case far right politicians win seats in the European Parliament.


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