FIR Obituary Kofi Annan

18. August 2018

The former Secretary-General of the United Nations passed on 18 August 2018 in the presence of his family after a short illness. Annan was 80 years old.

Kofi Annan was born on April 8, 1938. He spent most of his working life at the United Nations. In 1997, the Ghanaians became the first African-born politician to be UN Secretary-General. Five years later, he had earned such a reputation internationally that his re-election was undisputed.

As a representative of Ghana, he has taken a special responsibility for the interests of Africa. In addition to numerous awards, he received in 2001, together with the United Nations, which he ran between 1997 and 2006, the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the ten years at the head of the United Nations, Annan was considered the moral conscience of the world. He campaigned with charisma and diplomatic skill for the poor and oppressed, campaigned for peace and justice, and defied the US in the dispute over the Iraq war.

In May 2005, former FIR President Michel Vanderborght, former FIR Vice – President Vilmos Hanti and Secretary-General Dr. Ulrich Schneider met with Kofi Annan and have had a short exchange of views.

Even after ending his role as UN Secretary-General, Annan continued to work for international peace efforts. For almost six months, Annan, as a UN Special Envoy, sought to find a solution to the Syrian conflict and to bring the war to an end – unfortunately without success.

Kofi Annan was a diplomat who dedicated his life to a more just and peaceful world. As a diplomat, he has moved many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He was an inspiration for young and old.

(Deutsch) FIR betrauert Tod von UN-Generalsekretär Kofi Annan

18. August 2018

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

International Camp Committees “The Appeal of Milano”

13. Juli 2018

July 1st, the Italian member federation of FIR, ANED, organized a meeting of International Camp Committees in Milano. After a very fruitful debate about the common tasks depending of the work in the memorial places and with the young generations they adopted “THE MILANO APPEAL”.  FIR is very proud of this initiative of its member federation and supports this declaration. 

On July 1st, 2018, the presidents, vice-presidents and secretaries general of the International Committees of the former Nazi concentration camps met in Milano, at the Casa della Memoria, on the initiative of the Associazione Nazionale Ex Deportati Nazionale Ex Deportati Nei Campi nazisti (ANED).

Facing the known threats against European memory, the future of Europe and its citizens, we launch the following appeal:

We are the custodians of the testimonies of the survivors of the Nazi crimes. We carry this living and painful memory and we speak for the thousands of men and women who have survived the camps, for their descendants or for the simple citizens who are active in our respective associations.

We are also committed to preserving the former concentration camps which have become memorials of Humanity from oblivion, banalisation and destruction; we take inspiration for that work from the Resolution of the European Parliament of February, 11, 1993 “on the European and international protection as historic monuments of the places of the former Nazi concentration camps.» We are outraged by the recent attacks against the memorials in Mauthausen and Flossenbürg.

We are indignant about the fact that a UNO Resolution of November 21st, 2014 “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” was not adopted due to three negative votes and 55 abstentions (among them the Member States of the European Union).

We remain vigilant in the face of nationalist and populist attempts to eradicate from European memory these places of inhumanity but also of struggle and of solidarity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 reminds us that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. Hundreds of thousands of deportees to the Nazi camps have become the victims of these barbarous acts.

For more than seventy years now, the survivors and their descendants have remained faithful to the commitments taken at the moment of liberation of the camps. They have worked tirelessly for peace and fraternal solidarity among nations. Through their testimonies, they have been fighting racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and extreme right ideas in Europe.

Confronted with the arrival of refugees fleeing from war and misery, certain European states answer by totally closing their borders instead of offering humanitarian assistance. The Mediterranean has become a huge cemetery where the hopes of thousands of men, women, and children have come to an end. Europe seems to have lost its memory: many Europeans were refugees themselves before and after the war. They have been met with solidarity but also with discrimination and rejection. Europe must learn the terrible lessons from its recent past and not turn a blind eye on its responsibilities.

Which values are we willing to transmit to the younger generations? Egotism and the fear of others must not replace the values of humanism, which are at the core of our common history and commitments.

Our appeal therefore goes to all elected officials in various national and European institutions: your efforts to reach appropriate responses to the migration phenomenon must be driven first and foremost with regard to human dignity.

First signatories:

  • Associazione Nazionale Ex Deportati Nei Campi nazisti (ANED):

Dario Venegoni, Président, Aldo Pavia: Vice-Président

  • Comité International de BUCHENWALD-DORA:

Dominique Durand, President

  • Comité International de DACHAU:

Jean-Michel Thomas, Président, Preben Dietrichson, Administrateur

  • Association des déportés et familles des disparus du camp de concentration de FLOSSENBÜRG et Kommandos:

Michel Clisson, Président

  • Comité International de MAUTHAUSEN

Guy Dockendorf, Président, Floriana Maris, Vice-Présidente, Jean-Louis Roussel, Vice-Président

  • Comité International de NATZWEILER-STRUTHOF:

Jean-Marie Muller, Président, Claes Reksten, Secrétaire général

  • Amicale Internationale de NEUENGAMME:

Jean-Michel Gaussot, Président, Christine Eckel, Secrétaire générale,

  • Comité International de RAVENSBRÜCK:

Ambra Laurenzi, Présidente, Jeanine Bochat, Vice-Présidente

(Deutsch) Internationale Lagergemeinschaften verabschieden “Appell von Mailand”

13. Juli 2018

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FIR recalls the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948

25. Juni 2018

Last week, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported that nearly 70 million people around the world are currently fleeing war, persecution and hunger. Eighty-five percent of the refugees lived in low-income or lower-income countries. UNHCR leader Filippo Grandi appealed to the humanitarian responsibilities of rich states. “Nobody becomes a refugee voluntarily, but we others can help.”

The FIR has always been in political responsibility to help people who are fleeing. On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June 2018, we recall the common promise of all the forces of the anti-Hitler coalition, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, …

Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Until today, these rights are not universal, and even European governments are trampling on these principles, e.g.

  • the Italian Minister of the Interior Salvini, who wants to introduce an ethnic population register,
  • Hungary with the announced internment of refugees or the “detention centers” planned by various European countries in North Africa or in Europe itself,
  • the Baltic governments with discrimination against Russian population groups.

The FIR also demands from European governments the observance of human rights and a refugee policy that does not serve the expulsion of people or the development of the “Fortress Europe”. The FIR demands that civil society aid organizations be supported in their work with refugees and not be criminalized.

(Deutsch) FIR erinnert an die Allgemeine Erklärung der Menschenrechte der Vereinten Nationen von 1948

25. Juni 2018

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FIR very concerned about political developments in Europe

3. Juni 2018

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Government formation in Italy last week clearly underlined the danger of increasing right wing developments in Europe. Meanwhile, four government parties in Europe, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and now Italy have put their campaign and political profile under the motto of xenophobia and nationalism.

For many years, in Hungary, under the government of Viktor Orban, we have seen that its demarcation from the EU is linked, in particular, to the distinction against “strangers” and refugees. The anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros, Orbans thesis of the “migrants-free zone” in Central Europe and the construction of a wall opposite Serbia are signs of this racist policy of FIDESZ and JOBBIK.

In Poland, the right-wing government of the PiS party is exacerbating the pressure on the political opposition and eliminating democratic participation and legal certainty for citizens through pseudo-reforms. In addition, this government denies a solidary approach to help people in need by the partitioning of the country in the reception of war refugees from other EU countries. Frightening is also the massive falsification of history and disposal of places of remembrance.

In Austria too, the current government has come to power with the demand to close the borders of the country for people from other countries. In addition to further criticisms of the European Union, the leader of the FPÖ Strache even calls to cancel the free movement of EU citizens. Together with the Bavarian police, the identity checks at the German-Austrian border were reintroduced. Controlling is done mainly according to racist criteria.

In addition, in Italy, since this week we have a government, which is supported by Lega, Forza Italia and the 5-star movement. These parties represent positions of extreme right and right wing populists. Matteo Salvini, who has led his party “Lega” on a massive xenophobic course for several years, was sworn in as Interior Minister. He is responsible for the refugee camps in Lampedusa and other places. It can be expected that the already inhumane conditions will be worsened. The program of this government is an actual attack on the antifascist nature of the Italian constitution.

FIR appeals: Europe’s democratic and anti-fascist organizations and parties must join forces to stop further right wing development. Together, they must use the public debates on the European Parliament elections to promote a peaceful, social justice and anti-fascist Europe.

(Deutsch) FIR in Sorge über die politische Entwicklung in Europa

3. Juni 2018

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Communists in the resistance against fascism and capital

26. Mai 2018

Exhibition and symposium in the Netherlands

The Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944-1945 in Groesbeek tells the impressive history of communist resistance in the Netherlands in a fascinating special exhibition “The Communists. In the Resistance to Fascism and Capital”, which will be on view from 2 May to 28 October 2018.

From the first day of the German occupation of the Netherlands, the entire Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) became a national resistance organization. The illegal CPN soon counted thousands of resistance fighters, many of whom had valuable experience in illegal activities. Despite the persecution, the resistance newspaper “De Waarheid” was spread throughout the country in 1940 and the communist resistance is considered the originator of the February 1941 strike. Numerous posters, newspapers, photos and other media illustrate the exhibition. On display is a duplicator that printed “De Waarheid” and a sabotage tool used to derail trains. The persecution of the Communists is told by the impressive drawings of Henri Pieck and the extraordinary chess game that Nico Mourer made during his imprisonment of breadcrumbs.

In connection with this exhibition, on 19 May 2018 a historic symposium took place. The guest speaker participated Max van den Berg, the Michel Vanderborght award winner, who had attended as a 14-year-old with his classmates on Docker’s strike in February 1941.

Other speakers at the symposium included Rien Dijkstra, the son of a former Spain fighter and board member of the Spanish Foundation 1936-1939. He reported on the Dutch volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. Other historians and experts reported on the resistance in various parts of the country and the “Action CPN”, the German arrest after the attack on the Soviet Union.

The museum in Groesbeek was surprised by the great interest in this conference. Already days before, it announced on its website that the symposium was fully booked. The exhibition and symposium were a contribution to the Dutch “Year of Resistance 2018”.

(Deutsch) Kommunisten im Widerstand gegen Faschismus und Kapital

26. Mai 2018

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

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