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Berlin’s March For Science sees Holocaust deniers and antisemitic conspiracy theorists march unchallenged

RIAS (Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism) Incident Report Central Berlin, 22nd April 2017.

Blatant Antisemitism, Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists on Berlin’s March for Science

On Saturday, April 22, several thousand people participated in the “March for Science Berlin”. A group of four people displayed placards and distributed antisemitic leaflets concerning Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories. For example, on one flier, the German World War II debts and the Holocaust are questioned along with conspiracy theories about climate change and the September 11 suicide attacks. Jews were also targeted as having a financial influence over Hollywood, the press, pornography and the internet. There were depictions of the alleged power of “Bilderberg” and other groups are referred to within the fliers as “evidence-based facts – free from any ideology!”. One of the group of four was known to have already carried a quotation on a placard from the right-wing extremist Horst Mahler, at a peace demonstration in October last year: “The history of the Holocaust is a story full of lies”. Further, a known regular antisemite, Usama Z., attended the demonstration and regularly displays conspiracy-theory placards with antisemitic content.

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The above placard reads: We want evidence-based science-based opinion-forming!
This applies in particular to the following subjects: Earth and human history; War crimes of World Wars 1 and 2; The Legal status of the FRG; (Federal Republic of Germany), Holocaust;
Climate change; 9/11; Terrorism; Power structures; The Press. There are no alternatives to facts!

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The above placard reads: We want a factual analysis of the contents of so-called conspiracy theories, instead of a general defamation of so-called conspiracy theorists!
There are no alternatives to the facts!

A non-profit Berlin-based organisation, “The Golden Tin-Foil Hat”, (GTFH), was also present at the march. This organisation regularly attends such gatherings, distributing leaflets and offering help and advice in countering Holocaust denial, extremism, conspiracy theories and sects. They challenged the March for Science organisers on the GTFH facebook page. The March for Science organisers stated that antisemitism was a matter for the police not them, to which the GTFH asked why then were only GTFH members challenged by March for Science (MfS) stewards and not the blatant peddlers of antisemitism and conspiracy theories? The conversation continued such that MfS agreed to be more vigilant and the GTFH team offered to act in an advisory capacity at future marches.

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Ukrainian national hero says she doesn’t “like ‘k*kes'”, suggests that a Jewish elite runs the country

Nadiya Savchenko was Ukraine’s first female combat pilot, a 2009 graduate of the Air Force University in Kharkiv. In 2014 she was captured by pro-Russian separatists whilst serving in eastern Ukraine, after having volunteered to fight in the conflict in the Donbas region that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In protest, Savchenko went on hunger strike for 83 days and, in May 2016, was released in a prisoner exchange. She was awarded the Hero of the Ukraine medal and has been feted as Ukraine’s Joan of Arc , yet vilified by others, “a killing machine in a skirt”.

Nadiya Savchenko, although a controversial figure, is clearly brave and stoic in the face of aggression and her experiences; she is a formidable opponent. She has impressed in interviews, displaying a steely determination, as she does in this interview with Kirsty Wark for Newsnight. Further, her family were labelled Kulaks and her mother’s family had suffered under Stalin’s Holodomor, the enforced famine of 1932-33, which resulted in death by starvation for c.3million Ukrainians.

Against this full and chequered past, it is all the more disappointing that Savchenko embroiled herself in accusations of antisemitism. As a Ukrainian Parliamentarian, in an interview on the Ukrainian 112 station radio, she seemed to agree with a caller’s remarks who had spoken of a “Jewish takeover of the Ukraine”, but has denied being antisemitic. She said “I have nothing against Jews. I do not like ‘kikes’.” and further said Jews possess “80 percent of the power when they only account for 2 percent of the population.”

She first used the term  “evreiv,” which for speakers of both Ukrainian and Russian is a neutral designation for Jew. However, later she used the term “zhidiv,” which in Russian is a pejorative for Jews, akin to “kike” in English.

It also seemed important to her to mention the supposed Jewish roots of Volodymyr Groysman, (Ukraine’s Prime Minister); Petro Poroshenko, (Ukraine’s President) and Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and a leader of the nation’s Orange Revolution.

In her radio interview, she replied to the caller, “Indeed, part of the ruling establishment in Ukraine does not possess distinctly Ukrainian blood and we need to talk about it and act.” What does “act” mean? With the often tragic history and current day trials of Ukraine’s Jewry, talking is one matter, what she means by “act” is another. From someone with a reputation for forthrightness, it’s not unreasonable for Jewry to interpret this as veiled and threatening.

Despite Savchenko’s denials, it appears that pejoratives and insinuation are so entrenched within her use of language that the tone of antisemitism is not even recognised by her as such. The comments about various politicians, and the fact that this is even a source of speculation to begin with, reeks of antisemitic conspiracy theories and demonstrates an underlying antisemitic sentiment.

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“A Monument of Shame”? German far-right leader belittles Holocaust memorial

Alternativ für Deutschland’s alternative take on Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial.

Björn Höcke, the leader of anti-immigration AfD in the eastern German state of Thuringia, said that German history was being made “appalling and laughable.” Höcke added: “These stupid politics of coming to grips with the past cripple us – we need nothing other than a 180-degree reversal on the politics of remembrance.”


Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial.

The Holocaust(hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”), meaning to completely consume by fire, is the most profound genocidal event etched in modern European history. So profound in the European experience, The Holocaust has become the conduit by which we remember and try to understand genocides and mass murders across the globe; encapsulated in World Holocaust Memorial Day.  Understanding goes far beyond trying to shame various groups. It is about what can happen to humanity at its worse, even somewhere like Germany which was considered one of the most civilised nations on earth.

Björn Höcke, may well be reflecting the anger and helplessness felt by individuals who are overwhelmed when confronted by the enormity of genocide and their reaction to some people’s attempts to blame and shame others, who were not present in 1938-45 and can do nothing to change or rectify what has happened.

It is incumbent on us all to commemorate, but not wallow; to act and prevent, not shame and blame; to listen more and speak less; to not make a new generation bear the unbearable. However, Björn Höcke is neither right to start with, and diminish, the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, nor to reinforce a message which is not the true intent of memorialisation. Indeed, for Jews in particular, commemorating those who were murdered in the Holocaust and understanding the Holocaust as an event in our national memory is a moral imperative. Speaking of attempts to memorialise the Holocaust as a campaign of shame belittles the experiences and memories of the Jewish people, and makes this moral imperative out to be a cynical tool of manipulation, an insinuation which is inherently antisemitic.

Josef Schuster,, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany commented: “It is deeply outrageous and completely unacceptable to describe the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as Björn Höcke did as a ‘monument of shame. With these antisemitic and extremely misanthropic remarks, the AfD is showing its true face. I would not have believed that it was possible for a politician in Germany to say such things 70 years after the Shoah“.


Please note that this speech was made in January 2017.



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Antisemitic abuse on Passau University campus, Germany

RIAS Nationwide Incident report: from Passau, Lower Bavaria, (south eastern Germany), 8th June 2016.

Two students were subject to antisemitic verbal abuse on Passau University campus.

On 8th June, at approximately 6pm, the two students were verbally abused by three men calling them “Dirty Jews”. Neither of the students was wearing any obvious ‘Jewish’ or ‘Israeli’ symbols, but the three men said that their targets looked like “typical Jews”.

The three men sat, with bare torsos, on a bench and were most likely inebriated. The reporter noted the three men singing an antisemitic song.

From their various and visible tattoos, it could be deduced that the men were associated with the extreme Right.

The antisemitic remarks were widely heard, but there was no immediate reaction from the other campus residents.

With thanks to RIAS – Recherche- und Informationsstelle Antisemitismus. The Foundation for Research and Information (office) on Antisemitism.

Writer comment: Unfortunately, many people can be subject to unwanted approaches and remarks from drunken people on a night out or at other times in our daily lives. Even good-humoured interactions can feel intimidating. We are most often able to shrug it off, move along and forget about it. Indeed, it is often safer not to react, especially if you feel threatened.

However, targeted, habitual and dogged insults during one’s daily life, (in this case two students wandering on their campus), can eventually chip away at a person’s confidence and lead to them feeling unsafe. This is especially so, if you are in a space which is familiar to you, a place of work, a place which is essentially your home.

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Antisemitic Holocaust placard on Berlin street.

RIAS Incident report: Berlin-Friedrichshain, 23rd July 2016.

A Holocaust revisionist placard was mounted on a busy street corner in Friedrichshain, Berlin.

On 23rd July, a placard attached to a lamppost with text which translate literally as “though we’re all sitting in the same gas chamber, it’s you sitting on the tap from within the red engine”, was recorded on the corner Boxhagener and Warschauer streets.

The text implies that Jews are in control of the “tap” of metaphorical gas that allegedly afflicts everyone. Not only does it thus suggest a conspiracy theory in which Jews are said to be in control of world affairs, but it also cheapens the memory of the Holocaust by creating a false equivalence between the conditions of the victims of the Holocaust and whatever social ills may affect people today, and then using this false equivalence for inflammatory and rhetorical purposes.

The style and content of the writing suggests that the originator is from within the vicinity of the street intersection. Such references to, or comparisons with, the Holocaust have a direct consequence in the lowering the societal threshold for openly antisemitic and revisionist statements.

For Holocaust survivors, their families and those affected by antisemitism, there is an inevitable reawakening of memories associated with the systematic mass extermination of European Jews under the National Socialist movement. We wholeheartedly welcome the swift removal of the placard shortly after it was discovered.

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Snowflakes into avalanches: antisemitic “Jew” rat graffiti in Washington

It would seem that even an artistic take, on a road safety endeavour, is not immune from antisemitism.

In the Chinatown district of Washington DC, an art installation, based on the Chinese zodiac, was created to bring fun, interest and enhanced safety to the diagonal “Barnes Dance” pedestrian crossing.

On the zebra-crossing element of the scheme, the rat zodiac images were graffitied with the word “Jew” on the main body. The authorities were alerted and the graffiti removed, only to reappear up to three times in one week.

Why is it important to highlight these incidences? On it’s own, incidences like this are annoying thorns; a cheap casual reminder that antisemitic canards and invectives lie just beneath the surface and in this case literally beneath one’s feet. Often, people can brush them off but, it is the accumulation of these incidences which means that many people cannot carry out the most mundane of tasks, (like crossing the road), without feeling targeted. It can eat at you, very slowly eroding one’s sense of safety and belonging.

It is important that the ‘casual’ and ‘throwaway’ invectives do not become acceptable and normalised.

Another aspect of these types of incidences is where it can lead. Many peoples have been earmarked for dehumanisation; it is tragically standard fair for many human histories. For the Jewish experience, it spans generations: pigs, apes, vermin, cancer, octopi, frogs, snakes, worms, lice, spiders ad infinitum from ancient and recent history and current history . If you dehumanise and label ‘subhuman’ a group of people, it makes the next step of eradication more palatable and “accepted”.

The use of dehumanisation is the third of eight stages of Genocide, as first mooted by Raphael Lemkin in 1944 and later expanded by Dr. George Stanton in 1996.

Some commentators may describe this type of incident as petty, free-speech, freedom of expression. If this is accepted by default, then there is also the right to challenge; there is the right to say that people have a right to access to a ‘normal’ daily life without having to tolerate the drip-drip of degradation.

These incidences maybe just snowflakes, but we know that the true weight of a snowflake lies in its accumulation into an avalanche.