A Prague Tragedy – the desecration of the memorial of Marshal Konev

3. April 2020

While all over the world – despite the Corona pandemic – the memory of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe from fascism and war is kept alive, commemorating the victims and honoring the liberators of the anti-Hitler coalition, a Prague district government is indulging in a political scandal that cannot be surpassed in its provincialism and small-mindedness.

Despite international protests and interventions, including to the Czech state government, on Friday 3 April the monument of Marshal Konev, who as supreme commander had achieved the military liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp and Czechoslovakia, was dismantled and transported away. Only a few weeks ago, on 27 January 2020, Czech anti-fascists have honored Marshal Konev at this memorial in memory of the victims of the fascist extermination policy.

Obviously, the district government tried to use the exceptional situation because of the health-related initial restrictions to carry out this desecration of the monument without public protests. Apparently, they wanted to prevent that on the liberation day of the Czech capital or on Victory Day thousands of Prague citizens would again make a pilgrimage to this monument and commemorate the liberators with flowers and other honors.

Following on from the scandalous declaration of the European Parliament on 19 September 2019, which was used as a legitimation, particularly in the Baltic States and in Poland, to remove monuments of remembrance of the liberators, we are now witnessing another appalling example in Prague of the consequences of this historical revisionism.

The FIR and its member federations are however sure that the Czech anti-fascists and many citizens will retain the memory of the liberators despite this outrage and will remember in worthy public forms Marshal Konew and the thousands of fighters in the ranks of the Red Army, who accomplished the liberation achievement.

Greek Resistance fighter Manolis Glezos died at the age of 97

30. März 2020

With deep sorrow, we have to inform, the Greek resistance fighter Manolis Glezos died on Monday at the age of 97 years. He had previously been hospitalized because he had difficulty breathing and chest pain. Glezos was politically active until his old age.

He had become known to a broad public when, together with Apostolos Sandas, he took down the swastika flag from the Athens Acropolis during a life-threatening action on 30 May 1941. It was a symbolic act of resistance against the German occupying forces. Many Greeks followed this example at the time. Up to the present day, Glezos and Santas have been considered a symbol of the resistance of the peoples against fascist foreign rule and oppression. During the war, he was arrested and tortured several times. His younger brother was executed by the occupying forces.

After the liberation of the country from the fascist occupation, Glezos first headed the Communist Party newspaper “Rizospastis” as editor-in-chief. The newspaper was banned in December 1947; in 1948, he was sentenced to death for this activity. Due to strong protests, especially from abroad, this sentence was not carried out. Glezos was not released until July 1954. In the following years he received further long prison sentences for his political activities. Immediately after the military coup on April 21, 1967, he was sent to prison again. It was not until 1971 that he was released through a general amnesty. He was sentenced 28 times for his political activities, including three times to death.

After the fall of the military junta he was, among other things, chairman of the United Democratic Left (DFA) and mayor of the municipality of Apiranthos on Naxos, where he was born. He was first elected to the European Parliament in 1984 for PASOK. In 2002 he founded the group “Active Citizens”, which cooperated with the then Synaspismos (now SYRIZA). In 2012, he was elected to the Greek Parliament for SYRIZA. He was the oldest member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 7 July 2015.

Despite his old age, in recent years he has always vehemently defended the legitimate demands of the Greek people regarding compensation for the damage caused by the German fascist occupation.

The FIR and its member federations mourn with the family, his fellow combatants and the Greek anti-fascist movement. We will keep an honorable memory of him.

Message from Vilmos Hanti, President of FIR, on the present epidemic situation

30. März 2020

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Today, amid a volatile and unpredictable global situation, our vulnerable world is facing an unprecedented new challenge, the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading accross the world uncontained and has a deep impact on the everyday life of ordinary citizens.

This time, joining forces at a global level against this invisible enemy of our civilization has become a fundamental requirement for all the inhabitants of  Mother Earth, for nothing else but to save our future and that of the next generations. Without this inevitable effort by all of us, we will fail, and that will entail unforeseeable consequences for our physical existence.

Inevitably, these probing times are bringing back to our memories the darkest chapters of our recent history, when certain forces looking for scape-goats, resorting to narratives of intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia, extremism and demagogy,  were able to poison peoples’s minds and, as history has repeatedly shown, to bring to the surface the worst features of human behaviour. And, unfortunately, the preceding decades have demonstrated that even at the end of the last century, the bloodiest of all, such phenomena have reemerged,  confirming that we still continue to be vulnerable to such rhetoric.

That is why, in the midst of the present pandemic, I believe that it is of utmost importance for every citizen on our planet to engage in this common and vital undertaking of cooperation, with the aim of minimizing the destructive aspects of the coronavirus and eliminating them as soon as possible. In doing so, we should also bear in mind the importance of solidarity and mutual aid between all countries, rich and poor. And in this critical period, we should keep an open eye on those elements of our societies that engage in a rhetoric that seeks not to unite, but to divide us. The upcoming anniversary of the 1945 victory can also help us recall, among others, the lessons of how manipulating people led to indescribable sufferings.

As President of FIR, I take this opportunity to wish you, in these turbulent times, good health in the months ahead. You should take all the necessary measures to preserve your vitality and to help us stay away from the fake news that seek to undermine the resistance capability of our societies. And I want to see all our member federations go through these difficult times with a strengthened resolve and a firm commitment to stand up against attacks that aim to undermine the values of our human civilization, and to be prepared to combat this unprecedented invisible pandemic as bold resistance fighters of our times, the 21st century, who stand ready to continue our common struggle in defence of the goals of FIR.

Budapest, March 30, 2020

Obituary Ilya S. Kremer (Russia)

23. März 2020

It is with deep sorrow that we must announce the death of our long-time comrade and member of the Honorary Presidency Ilya Semyonovich Kremer. He died March 23, 2020 in Moscow at the age of 98.

Ilja fought in the ranks of the soviet army in the great Patriotic War and participated in the liberation of Berlin 1945. He was active for decades for the FIR, as political secretary, as representative of the Soviet and/or Russian veterans federation and as senior consulter and advisor for international relations.
FIR honored him with the Michel Vanderborght Award and confirmed him as a member of the honorary presidency several times.

Our condolences go to his family and the comrade of the Russian Veterans Union. We will keep an honourable memory of him.

Corona virus and international antifascist work

14. März 2020

With large concern, the FIR and its member federations pursue the current spreading of the Corona virus in Europe. We are not only concerned about the health aspects seizing the entire society, but because this pandemic affects in various forms the anti-fascist and remembrance work of the FIR and all member federations.

Since this week in all German concentration camp memorial places the international commemoration ceremonies on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation were cancelled. These cancellations were – according to our information – coordinated by the memorial site management with the international camp committees. Only the liberation celebrations in Mauthausen in May 2020 have not yet been cancelled. However, the Mauthausen Memorial is closed until the beginning of April due to a government order. The same applies to the Auschwitz Memorial, which has been temporarily closed until the end of March. The reason given for the cancellations was that older people in particular belong to the high-risk groups whose lives are seriously endangered by illness. We welcome such preventive health measures, even if the political damage is immense in our view.

In addition, the projects of the FIR and its member federations are massively obstructed by these precautionary measures for the containment of the pandemic. In Hungary, the annual awarding of the Radnoti price had to be postponed for some months. In Italy, the traditional celebrations to 25 April, the liberation day, are actually endangered. The planned anti-fascist conference of the Russian Veterans Association must also be postponed to the second half of the year. Moreover, the great youth project “Train of a Thousand”, the commemorative train from Brussels to Auschwitz, is in danger to be cancelled due to the Europe-wide restrictions on travel possibilities and the health risks for the participants.

Such restrictions are politically painful, but what is important in this situation is that all our comrades-in-arms and especially the veterans of the anti-fascist struggle stay healthy and can continue to make their contribution to our common tasks.

It remains in the responsibility of the FIR and its member federations that after the pandemic has died down, the state institutions and the memorial places should not go over “to the agenda”.

We stand up for the fact that in all memorial places in appropriate form the liberation of the camps will be remembered also in the coming years. The understandable cancellations of this year’s commemorations must not be used as an excuse to ignore this date in the future.

Together with the survivors and their relatives as well as the anti-fascist associations, the memorial sites are obliged also in the future to organize a worthy commemoration and remembrance work corresponding to the survivors’ legacy.

The days of liberation and the Day of Victory on May 9, 1945 remain in the collective memory of the peoples and will continue to be commemorated in the future – regardless of corona virus and other restrictions.

27 January 1945 – 75 years ago the Auschwitz death camp was liberated

25. Januar 2020

On 27 January 1945, the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front whose Commander-in-Chief was Marshal I.S. Konev, succeeded in liberating the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Auschwitz stands until today as a symbol for the incomprehensible monstrosity of the fascist extermination policy. Between the summer of 1940 and January 1945, more than 1.3 million people from all over Europe, Jews, Sinti and Roma, political opponents, and other marginalized persons were deported to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. At least 1.1 million were murdered in the gas chambers, by shooting or by “extermination through work” for the IG Farben Company and other armament factories.

In the morning of January 27, 1945, the 322nd Infantry Division of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front under the supreme command of Colonel General Pavel A. Kurochkin first reached the main camp at Monowitz. Units of the Waffen-SS and the Wehrmacht still offered bitter military resistance, so that more than 230 Soviet soldiers lost their lives during the liberation of Auschwitz. During the day, Red Army soldiers advanced to Auschwitz and Birkenau.

In the main camp, in Birkenau and Monowitz, they encountered only about 7,000 prisoners. Even in the first days after liberation, numerous prisoners died of exhaustion. Among the liberated were more than 200 children up to the age of 15, mostly twins, who were intended as test subjects for SS doctors. On the site itself, the Soviet soldiers found about 600 dead camp inmates, who had been shot by SS men just before their departure.

The survivors of Auschwitz formulated in a message at the beginning of March 1945: “We, the rescued former prisoners, owe our rescue to the brave Red Army and ask the international public and their governments to take note of this and to express our gratitude on our behalf.

For more than a decade, January 27 has been commemorated worldwide as an International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust, following a decision by the United Nations.

The FIR and its member federations will never forget the victims of the extermination policy and remind at the same time the liberation achievements of the fighters of the Red Army as part of the anti-Hitler coalition – especially not on 27 January 2020.

(Deutsch) 27. Januar 1945 – vor 75 Jahren wurde das Vernichtungslager Auschwitz befreit

25. Januar 2020

Sorry, this entry is only available in German. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Am 27. Januar 1945 gelang es der 60. Armee der I. Ukrainischen Front, deren Oberkommandierender Marschall I.S. Konew war, das Vernichtungslager Auschwitz zu befreien.

Auschwitz steht bis heute als Symbol für die unfassbare Monstrosität der faschistischen Vernichtungspolitik. In das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Auschwitz wurden vom Sommer 1940 bis Januar 1945 über 1,3 Mio. Menschen aus ganz Europa, Juden, Sinti und Roma, politische Gegner und andere Ausgegrenzte verschleppt, mindestens 1,1 Mio. wurden in den Gaskammern, durch Erschießungen oder durch „Vernichtung durch Arbeit“ für den IG Farben Konzern und andere Rüstungsbetriebe ermordet.

Am Vormittag des 27. Januar 1945 erreichte die 322. Infanteriedivision der 60. Armee der 1. Ukrainischen Front unter dem Oberbefehl von Generaloberst Pawel A. Kurotschkin zuerst das Hauptlager von Monowitz. Einheiten der Waffen-SS und der Wehrmacht leisteten noch erbitterten militärischen Widerstand, so dass über 230 sowjetische Soldaten bei der Befreiung von Auschwitz ihr Leben ließen. Im Laufe des Tages stießen die Soldaten der Roten Armee nach Auschwitz und Birkenau vor.

Im Stammlager, in Birkenau und Monowitz trafen sie nur noch etwa 7.000 Häftlinge an. Noch in den ersten Tagen nach der Befreiung starben zahlreiche Häftlinge an Entkräftung. Unter den Befreiten befanden sich über 200 Kinder im Alter bis zu 15 Jahren, zumeist Zwillinge, die als Versuchsobjekte für SS-Ärzte vorgesehen waren. Auf dem Gelände selber fanden die sowjetischen Soldaten etwa 600 Tote – Lagerinsassen, die von SS-Männern noch unmittelbar vor ihrem Abzug erschossen worden waren.

Die Überlebenden von Auschwitz formulierten Anfang März 1945 in einer Botschaft: „Wir, die geretteten ehemaligen Häftlinge, verdanken unsere Rettung der tapferen Roten Armee und bitten die internationale Öffentlichkeit und ihre Regierungen hiervon Kenntnis zu nehmen und in unserem Namen hierfür Dank abzustatten.“

Seit über einem Jahrzehnt wird – auf Beschluss der Vereinten Nationen – der 27. Januar weltweit als Internationaler Gedenktag für die Opfer des Holocaust begangen. Die FIR und ihre Mitgliedsverbände werden die Opfer der faschistischen Vernichtungspolitik und die Befreiungsleistungen der Kämpfer der Roten Armee als Teil der Anti-Hitler-Koalition niemals vergessen – gerade nicht am 27. Januar 2020.

 

Impressions of XVIII FIR congress in Reggio Emilia

8. Dezember 2019

Opening of the congress in “Sale di Tricolore”

Political opening speech of President Vilmos Hanti

Secretary General presented an illustrated political report

The delegates and guests followed the congress with high attention

An impressive wreath laying ceremony in the city centre of Reggio Emilia

 

(Deutsch) Impressionen vom XVIII FIR Kongress in Reggio Emilia

8. Dezember 2019

Sorry, this entry is only available in German. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Begrüßung der Delegierten und Gäste im “Sale di Tricolore”

Eröffnung der Konferenz durch Präsident Vilmos Hanti

Der Generalsekretär präsentiert einen illustrierten Rechenschaftsbericht

Die Delegierten und Gäste folgen aufmerksam der Konferenz

Eine würdige Kranzniederlegung in der Innenstadt von Reggio Emilia

 

Support for the Bulgarian Antifascists

8. Dezember 2019

The FIR supports the justified request of the Bulgarian veterans and anti-fascists to be recognized socially as fighters in the ranks of the Anti-Hitler-Coalition. The Congress decides that the following letter will be sent to the Bulgarian authorities:

 

TO:      MRS TSVETA KARAYANCHEVA, Chairwoman OF BULGARIAN PARLIAMNT

TO:      MR. BOYKO BORISOV, CHAIRMAN OF THE CONCIL OF MINSTERS OF BULGARIA

TO:      MR. RUMEN RADEV, PRESIDENT OF BULGARIA

We were surprised to understood that Bulgarians who take part of the in the anti-fascist struggle between 1941-1944 in Bulgaria are not recognized as veterans from Second World War. For us that mean that first as if underestimating and trample the memory of thousands of Bulgarian antifascists, who gave their blood for in the antifascist struggle and second we accept that fact as unrespect to those Bulgarian heroes who today are not alive.

Is it right those days when Bulgaria is full member of European Union, members of the antifascist resistance not to have official status of veterans of the Second World War? For us it is not right and equitable for us. How Bulgarian antifascist are different from their brothers, who take place in antifascist resistance in Europe? For us there is no such a difference! All of us courageously were fighting against Hitler’s fascism.

We would like officially to ask you honourable parliamentarian and political leaders to help us for the official recognition of Bulgarian antifascist as veterans from the Second World War from the Bulgarian parliament.

With that gesture you will not only show respect to Bulgarian antifascists whose number from years decreases because of the biological reasons  but also with that gesture you will give a solid guarantee of the Bulgarian public that you ensure the European values and traditions and also you will give an example of how you attribute in fighting against the neofascism today which works hard over the all continent. Let do not give a chance to neofascist fever to work in our countries.

We would like to wish you health, cheerfulness and success with your highly responsible work like European parliamentarians for the progress and wellness of the peace in whole Europe.

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