Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Old flags in "new Europe"

NAZIS planning march in Prague, want to rally in Serbia

REMEMBER HIM? Adolf Hitler inspects guard of honour as he enters Prague's Hradcany castle.

The fuhrer despised Slavs of course, but his modern fans don't mind.

Almost seventy years since Hitler's army invaded Czechoslovakia and on the anniversary of Germany's 'Kristallnacht' state-organised pogroms, a group of modern would-be Nazis intends putting Czech democracy to the test with a provocative march through Prague's famous old Jewish quarter.

Another far-Right outfit has been banned from rallying in Serbia's second city, Novi Sad, where the Nazis and their Hungarian allies massacred nearly a 1,000 Jews and Serbs over three days in January 1942. Entire families were rounded up and machine gunned on the banks of the Danube, their bodies pushed on to the ice, which was then broken up by artillery fire.

The Vojvodina region of which Novi Sad is capital has long been an ethnically mixed area, with Hungarians, Croats and other minorities. During the wars in former Yugoslavia, democratic forces like the Social Democrats of Vojvodina opposed war and ethnic cleansing, and stood up to the Milosevic government. But this did not stop Novi Sad suffering some of the worst NATO bombing in 1999, destroying lives and local industry, and causing lasting damage to the city's environment and the health of citizens.

Today the city is in the hands of the far-Right Serb Radical Party who were Milosevic's coalition partners and now have support from his party. Minorities have learned to fear drunken nationalist mobs attacking their homes.

An appeal from a refugee

IT was a Roma refugee from the Czech republic however who alerted me to what is happening. His name is Lubo and after experiencing the discrimination and violence that has been the lot of Roma since Slovakia and the Czech lands enjoyed their "freedom" (not that they were a joyride for Gypsies under Stalinism), he has brought his family out and is curently living in Ireland. Lubo's own problems getting refuge have not prevented him campaigning for others, and keeping in touch with what is happening back in eastern Europe.

Last week Lubo sent this message to a friend in London:
"The 10th of November will march the Czech and other European Nazis through the Jewish districts in Prague! It is the Krystal Nacht action by fascist extremists!

The Mayor of District Prague 1 give the permission for this action! It is just proof of political strategy of and support the anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism and open European Fascism in the 21st century.

I would like to ask you if you have some friends journalist in newspapers,or radios to write about this and talk.

At the 7th of October in Novi Sad - Serbia the European Fascist Movement have rally as well. We have to make some international scandal about this action, if we can. Thanks so much for your help and sorry that I giving you hard time by this email. We love you!

Lubo and family!

When this was passed to me last week I forwarded it straightaway to any journalist I could think of, rather than wait while I could find out more. I have since found this Associated Press report:

Czechs, Serbs Oppose Nazi-Linked Marches
The Associated Press
September 26, 2007
Serbia's police on Wednesday banned a neo-Nazi march planned for next month, while Czech Jewish leaders voiced opposition to a rally by right-wing extremists in their country.
The group Nacionalni Stroj, or National Guard, had announced plans to hold the Oct. 7 march against the secession of Serbia's separatist Kosovo province in Novi Sad, some 30 miles north of Belgrade.
Serbia's police, apparently acting on protests by human rights and other groups, said in a statement that the march would be banned.
Last week, the World Jewish Congress said that the issue was a 'matter of great concern' for the organization.
Novi Sad, which was the scene of a 1942 massacre of about 800 Jews and 400 Serbs by Nazi occupiers during World War II, is currently run by a right-wing party with nationalist policies.
Prague Jewish leaders, meanwhile, demanded the banning of a planned march by a right-wing extremist group through Prague's Jewish quarter.
They appealed to Prague Mayor Pavel Bem to stop the march, which has been approved by Prague City Hall.
It is scheduled to take place on Nov. 10, the day after the anniversary of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass _ the 1938 night of terror when the Nazis attacked synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses.
The march is being organized by a group called Young National Democrats, which is linked to the National Resistance, a neo-Nazi group.

And here's a report from the Czech News Agency:

HN: Czech neo-Nazis to march through Jewish Quarter
By ČTK / Published 25 September 2007
Prague, Sept 25 (CTK) - Czech neo-Nazis want to march through the Prague Jewish Quarter on November 10, the anniversary of the Nazi anti-Jewish pogrom Kristallnacht, the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.
Officially, this will be a "march in protest against the war in Iraq," organised by Young National Democrats, HN writes, adding that some 150 demonstrators are expected to come.
The civic group Tolerance and Civic Society, that has alerted the Prague Jewish community about the planned march, says that the extreme rightist National Resistance was behind the march.
The neo-Nazis have chosen the anniversary of the Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938 when tens of Jews were murdered, 30,000 were deported to concentration camps and Aryanisation of their property started, activist Ondrej Cakl from Tolerance and Civic Society said.
The neo-Nazis planned the same march on December 9, 2006, on the anniversary of the Nuremberg trial of war criminals. However, the Town Hall had cancelled it, arguing that it "could disturb public traffic and health."
However, organiser Erik Sedlacek, one of the most active figures of the neo-Nazi movement, challenged the decision in court that eventually consented to its complaint. As a result, the November march is legal, HN writes.
"The fact that an organiser is connected with some ideology is not sufficient for a ban. For this, the purpose of the event would have to be linked with it," Prague Town Hall lawyer Pavel Stefanak said.
The planned march is to lead through the streets Maiselova, Brehova, Platnerska and U Stareho hrbitova to the Franz Kafka square, HN writes.
The neo-Nazis plan to carry flags with the Third Reich's black-white-red colours so that "the rabbis see the flags after 60 years," HN writes.
According to the Czech BIS counter-intelligence, the neo-Nazi movement is backed by some 3,000-5,000 Czechs, it adds.

The Czech village of Lidice became a byword for Nazi brutality in June 1942 when German troops massacred all 192 men and boys over 16 in the village and sent the rest of the inhabitants to concentration camps, in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Reich "Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia. Perhaps memories fade.

After the war, Czechoslovakia drove out thousands of German-speaking citizens. Call it revenge, or dub it "ethnic cleansing" (which was largely ignored by the Left); it did not put a stop to racism, as the Roma can tell, nor did it rid the country of Nazism. Prague's old Jewish quarter holds many memories, and serves to pull in tourists. Even if only 150 or fewer Nazis are expected to march, they may spoil the Czech capital's image and attract a species of tourist the city is better without.

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