Many events around the world feel reminiscent of the Nazi Holocaust, as if history is repeating itself in Ukraine. In Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, the leaflets last week requesting Jews to register and pay a fee for their property, and then the firebombing of a synagogue. In Hungary, elections led to increased support for fascism with a party that has demonstrated anti-Semitic acts. These occurrences lead to the question: What is the risk of fascism gaining momentum?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has appropriated the Crimea section of Ukraine, causing a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and its sovereignty. U.S. President Barack Obama made a statement yesterday that Russia has caused violation of international law and agreements, despite its prior consent. While the U.S. is offering international aid to Ukraine, what is being done to prevent Russia’s further seizure of territory?
The invasion of another country occurred during the second world war when Adolf Hitler took part of Austria and Czechoslovakia prior to moving on to capturing Poland. It was only with occupation of the third country that France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. Hitler’s goal was to create one enormous Germany. Putin, too, has acknowledged his designs on Russia’s neighbor, Ukraine. He has already called the entire southeastern portion of Ukraine Novorossiya, or New Russia.
All over the world, there are examples of fascist and anti-Semitic behavior: In Ukraine, under the new government, Parliament has a Neo-Nazi Right Sector and a Neo-Nazi Social-National Party. The leaders of both groups were recently appointed to the top two positions overseeing the Ukraine Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. In national elections in Hungary earlier this month, the far-right nationalist opposition party, Jobbik (the Movement for a Better Hungary), with a track record for anti-Semitic acts, gained over 20 percent of the votes, up from over 15 percent four years ago.
The risk of anti-Semitism is not new and it is not rare. It may have gone underground for some time because of the public outcry following the end of the Nazi Holocaust with the conclusion of World War II. Over time, however, it has become stronger, with Holocaust deniers saying that Jews exaggerated stories to gain land and sympathy regarding the state of Israel. Lately accounts of anti-Semitism have been gaining momentum, making observers question if the Holocaust could be repeated, especially in the Ukraine, and who would stand up against injustice this time?
Symbols of Neo-Nazism and White supremacy have been more prevalent lately than ever before. In Ukraine’s new Parliament, one can see the flags of the Celtic Cross and the Confederate (both identified by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “general racist symbols.”) (See video below.) The ADL recognizes that this is not “merely” Russian propaganda. Instead, they view this as evidence of Neo-Nazi elements in the Ukraine political factions that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
Another symbol of Neo-Nazism is the modern adaptation of the Hitler salute, which is increasingly becoming displayed worldwide. The new gesture has the right hand and fingers stretched down, along the body, and the left hand “saluting” on the right arm. A recent video (see below) shows how it is used in especially sensitive and symbolic Jewish places around the world.
And, in an act highly reminiscent of the Nazi Holocaust and previously, of the Pogroms, the main synagogue in Nikolayev, Ukraine was firebombed by Molotov cocktails, and caught on video (see below). The attack, which came a week after fliers insisted that Jews register and pay taxes there, occurred before worshippers arrived this past Saturday morning. The flames were extinguished by a passerby.
Efforts are being made by groups such as the aforementioned ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center to fight against Neo-Nazism in the U.S. and to increase awareness abroad. However, after recent events in the Ukraine and other countries, the question that remains is how large of a risk is there that an event such as another Holocaust could repeat and gain momentum? And, what is the world doing to prevent such atrocities from occurring again, on a large or a smaller scale?
The video below was filmed in the Ukrainian Parliament (late December 2013). On the pillars, the White power flag and the Confederate flag are clearly displayed. These are both listed in the ADL “Visual Database of Extremist Symbols, Logos and Tattoos.”
The video below demonstrates the use of the new Hitler salute in France, at extermination camp entrances, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and even alongside religious Jews and Israeli Defense Force soldiers who appear unaware of the meaning.
The video below shows the firebombing on April 19, 2014 of the main synagogue in Nikolayev, Ukraine, caught on video (at 1:21, at 3:25 and at 3:45 minutes).
By Fern Remedi-Brown