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73 Years after the Holocaust, the Struggle for Memory against Oblivion Continues…

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On 27 January of 1945, the Red Army liberated the approximately 7.000 remaining detained people at the concetration camp of Auschwitz. Respectively, during the advance of the Allied Powers of USA and Great Britain against the Wehrmacht on german ground, other concetration and extermination camps were also liberated. Only in Auschwitz II–Birkenau were exterminated more than 1.100.000 people, most of them Jews, Sinti and Roma. In total, the murdered of the Holocaust are calculated to be about 6.000.000 people.

The Holocaust, ie the mass, oganised at industrial scale, extermination of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, disabled, communists, anarchists and political antagonists of the Nazis, that was organised by the Nazis on their territories, constitutes a phenomenon that is historically unique and unprecedented, while, at the same time, reveals the real character and content of nazism and fascism as a political movement. The Holocaust wasn’t a mere manifestation of the nazi brutality, but it resulted from the social and historical procedures that was evolving in Europe already since the last 25 years of the 19th century.

73 years after the liberation, Europe is headed towards a revival of nazism, or we might say that nazism never died but survived via the politics of the capitalist nation-states and the historical oblivion. 73 years later, few remember that it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz. On the contrary, many try to equate communism with nazism and distort-revise the history. Today, many hide behind “antisionism” to cary forward their antisemitism. 73 later, in the public discourse and the state policies, the overtly Holocaust denial continues to be reproduced, as its covert relativisation.

The Greek state bears its own heavy part of criminal responsibility for surrendering the hundreds of thousands of Greek Jews and their consignment to the nazi extermination camps. On 15 March of 1943, set off the first train to trasport to Auschwitz and Birkenau 50.000 Jews from Thessaloniki. With the honest cooperation of the Greek authorities and the nazi personnel, among them Eichmann himself, during the occupation, the members of the jewish communities of Thessaloniki, Kavala, Ioannina and Arta were sent with violence to become raw material to the factories of death. The Greek Jews murdered on the Holocaust were more than 100.000.

Both the form of the Greek state that was (re-)established after the Occupation, bearing as its formal state ideology the nationalism and anticommunism, and the form of the Greek state after the Regime Change, proccessed and continue to apply a general policy of oblivion, in order to its crimes against the Jews and its cooperation with the Nazis be get forgotten.

Antisemitism is a phenomenon of the modernity. It may has inherited some attributes from the pre-modern antijudaism, a phenomenon of religious intolerance and European romanticism, but its core is something completely different. It must be viewed as an horizon of concepts. As the factor which organises the thought and “makes sense” from a heap of unconnected events and obvious lies through its distortioning prism.Whether social changes or capital movements -but even on a more personal or existential level- antisemitism is there to provide an easy and quick answer for the antisemits, concerning the cause of the difficult changes in any sphere of their lives. For the antisemitic imaginary, “the Jews” are the factors that, with the omnipotence that the antisemitic mind ascribes them, “pull the strings”, “control the banks and the US government with their lobbies”. Within this imaginary, any concept of social antagonism and class struggle is absent, giving their positions to the notion that “everything is predetermined to ‘their’ interest”. Behind every change are hiding the Jews and their calculations. The antisemite takes as his mission to redeem the world from the evil of Jews, the instigators of social and economic changes. The Nazis considered themselves as the liberators from the Jewish thrall which controls the banks, preads the socialism, mixes the races and undermines the position of their nation. Antisemitism is not another racism among the others, because for racism the subjugation of the “other race” is enough. On the contrary, for antisemitism the Jews are the “anti-race” and the only thing they deserve is extermination. There’s no need for Jews for antisemitism, but if they happen to end up in front of an antisemite is a very bad idea.

Historically, antisemitism functioned as the basic component for many capitalist nation-states. Since, for the national imaginary, the nation is a concrete and unbroken (imagined) body/communitym, the ideology of antisemitism is on the appropriate position on the right time in order to present the inner conflicts as instigated and external, as a part of a “Jewish/sionist” scheme.

Greek nationalism owes much to antisemitism. Since its first battles, the rising Greek nation bears the marks of antisemitism. In the 1821 siege of Tripolitsa, tens of thousands of Jews and Muslims were slaughtered. Antisemitist pogroms never ceased in Greece. H occupation of Thessaloniki from the Greek army in 1912 marked an organised operation either for forced assimilation or the subjegation of the Jewish population. The climax came during the Axis Occupation of Greece, with the formidable combination of the Greek “cunningness” and the German systemicity: a cooperation which ranked Greece at the first place -of course, after Poland and Germany- about the rate of extermination of Jewish populations, while on the neighbouring Albany the Jewish population was rising due to the growing solidarity for saving the Jews from the Holocaust. Respectively, in Yugoslavia tens of thousands of Jews were enlisting to the guerilla antifascist forces.

From the Greek cafés to the Greek Sunday’s family meals, from the universities to the car workshops, from Mpournazi to Kifissia, from the churches’ pulpits to the social movements of Artemis Sorras, Zoe Konstantopoulou, LAE (Popular Unity party) and the movement against housing auctions, from the Makeleio and Eleutheri Ora newspapers to those of “extraparliamentary Left”, all who want to be called “Greeks” laugh with jokes about Jews, show with easyness that “someone” is hiding behind the name of the Republic of Macedonian, rip their clothes apart for the “Israeli brutality against Palestinians”, while at the same time they are indifferent for the Arab immigrants killed on the Aegean sea. Especially during the last months, the very few Holocaust monuments in Greece are vandalised and ravaged systematically.

Today, and especially after WW II, antisemitism is avoiding to spell its own name. Its main political expression in Europe and in Greece is called “antisionism” and “solidarity to Palestine”. The rhetoric and practice of antisionism, when it doesn’t make direct call-backs to nazism, draws its rhetoric forms from the pre-WW II antisemitism with some subtle variations. “Don’t buy from Jews” has become “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)”. Respectively, Synagogues, Israeli councils and individuals have become targets for attacks, under the guise of the solidarity to Palestinians. The myth about Jews controlling the USA continues to be spread, but know “the Jews” are called “sionist lobbies”.

In a more general context, and according to Μoishe Postone: “The sort of anti-Semitism that found its most extreme expression in the Holocaust should not be confused with the everyday anti-Jewish prejudice. It is an ideology that became widespread in Europe in the late nineteenth century; its emergence presupposed earlier forms of anti-Semitism that had for centuries been an integral part of Christian Western civilization. What is common to all forms of anti-Semitism is the degree of power attributed to the Jews. Yet it is not only the degree but also the quality of the power attributed to the Jews that distinguishes anti-Semitism. What characterizes the power imputed to Jews in modern anti-Semitism is that it is mysteriously intagible, abstract and universal. It is a form of power that doesn’t manifest itself directly, but seeks a concrete carrier -whether political, social or cultural- through which it can work. Because the power of the Jews, as conceived by the modern anti-Semitic imaginary, is not limited concretely, is not ‘rooted’, it is considered enormous and extremely difficult to check. This power stands behind phenomena, but is not identical with them. It is hidden – conspirational. Within the modern anti-Semitic worldview, the Jews constitute an immensely powerful, shadowy, internationl conspiracy, responsible for those ‘apparent’ opposites, plutocratic capitalism and socialism, as well as for the rise of vulgar market culture and the decline of traditional values and institutions. The Jews were held responsible for economic crises and identified with the range of social restructuring and dislocation resulting from rapid capitalist industrialization, such as explosive urbanization, the decline of traditional social classes and strata, and the emergence of new strata of bankers, capitalists and professionals along with a large, increasingly organized industrial proletariat. Modern anti-Semitism, then, claimed to explain rapid, fundamental processes of change that had become threating for many people. Within this racialized imaginary, the Jews are not so much an inferior race as an antirace, responsible for historical processes that are profoundly dangerous and destructive to the social ‘health’ of other people – a threat to life itself” (Moishe Postone, “The Holocaust and the Trajectory of 20th Century” in Moishe Postone & Eric Sactner, eds, Catastrophe and Meaning: The Holocaust and the 20th Century, University of Chicago Press, 2003, p. 89). In Europe and in Greece, it’s also the Left that spreads the fairy-tales of “patriotic productive capital” against the “demonic and parasitic monetary capital”.

As antifascists, we will remain at the first line of the struggle for remembrance against oblivion. We are not willing to stop criticising and fight every form of antisemitism as the essential condition of the emergence of fascism-nazism. We are renegades to all of those that Greek society and its State concetrates both on material and on symbolic level, whose climax have already manifested in the Holocaust. For us, opposing the modern Greek fascism, antisemitism and its antisionist forms isn’t an ideological and cultural issue: it’s a struggle for life itself, a practical questioning of the power of capital and of nation that is imposed on our very minds and bodies. It’s a project for the building of new relations external to the boundaries formed by both the state & capital and the fetihistic reaction of the “national-popular Community” to the money circulation. It’s an attempt to redeem the past as a tradition of the oppressed.

We are well aware that, as Primo Levi said, “since it happened once, it can happen again”. As Adorno put it, the experience of the Holocaust imposes to the whole humanity a new categorical order:

AUSCHWITZ, NEVER AGAIN – FASCISM, NEVER AGAIN

Political Initiative of “Antifascists with memory”, for the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The poster is already sticked to the walls of Athens, Greece, and the text is circulating.

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