A world were anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and right-extremism have no place. It hurts and it and outrages us very much to conclude today that:The world learned too little from our history."
My father, Otto Kohlhofer, was arrested in 1935 as head of a resistance group in Munich Neuhausen and with 19 years sentenced for treason to 2 1/2 years in prison. After 2 1/2 years of solitary confinement in the penitentiary Amberg he was immediately transferred to Dachau concentration camp in February 1938. He was imprisoned until 1945 in Dachau, Flossenbuerg and in the satellite camps Kempten and Kottern. In January 1945, he was like many longtime prisoners drafted into the so-called probation Battalion 500 and sent to the front in the area of Olomuc in Moravia. These units were used to speak for last minute actions where there was virtually no chance of survival. My father luckily escaped with the help of the Red Army. His Russian language skills, which he acquired helping Russian-speaking prisoners in the concentration camp, have helped him. He was liberated in Vienna.
Another final act of the Nazi extermination policy was the evacuation march or death marches. In winter 1944/45, the SS had evacuated all the concentration camps that were threatening to fall into the hands of the Allied forces . Weak or ill prisoners were left behind or killed, all others were taken on foot or by train to other camps. Anyone who collapsed on the road or trying to escape, was killed on the spot, many starved or froze to death. Of the more than 700 000 prisoners, who were registered in early January 1945, at least 250,000 were killed on the death marches.
The Dachau Concentration Camp and its subcamps were evacuated in April 1945. A final madness of Nazi policy was to drive the prisoners in the Alps, there to let them build a so-called Alpine Fortress. So more than 10,000 completely weakened and starving people were driven by the Bavarian villages, guarded by SS men, who, nervous about the impending defeat, were even more brutal on them. People who could not continue were shot dead in a ditch and left behind.
For the first time, the population that previously only suspected the horrors behind the walls of concentration camps were confronted with the unimaginable. The reactions were divided. There were many, especially women who had compassion and wanted to give bread and water to the passing wretched figures. But this was mostly prevented brutally by SS guards (some reacted milder aware that their time was to come to an end). But there were others in the population, which quickly closed the doors and windows out of fear or so as not to see anything. And there were not a few, eg local party members who took part in brutal acts and denounced fugitives.
Only in Upper Bavaria many prisoners died in the last days before liberation by Allied troops.
The commemoration of the death marches has long been overshadowed by the memory of the concentration camps. It was only in 1988 when an initiative group from Gauting started to remember the death marches. Monuments representing the train of the prisoners were first placed in Gauting, and then in many places in Bavaria. Not in all communities the idea of remembering was welcomed, there were intense discussions, old feelings of guilt came up, in many cases one just wanted nothing more to do with the terrible past. But gradually the resistance could be broken, and today there are many of these monuments along the way the prisoners had to go at that time.
These 22 monuments along the route of the death marches want to remind and warn. Commemoration and remembrance must nevertheless always refer to the present and future. "The commemoration of the victims of Nazism has no meaning if it is not accompanied by the struggle against neo-Nazis," said Charlotte Knobloch in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 27 January 2012.
Nearly 70 years after the greatest barbarism in the history of mankind, after the racist madness has resulted in unimaginable mass extermination of human beings, it is outrageous that neo-Nazis are on the loose in this country, spreading their slogans, threatening those who think differently and kill people of other nationalities living in our country. The assassins were able to do so for many years, without being disturbed by any prosecution. Why not use the same pressure for crimes of extreme right as applied for the RAF? It runs through the entire history of the Federal Republic of Germany, that right-wing extremists were spared persecution by the German justice.
In her eulogy on the occasion of the 10 murders of Turkish and Greek entrepreneurs and a policewoman by the brown terror group NSU, Merkel speaks of harmful prejudices which lead to a climate of contempt. But since the mid-80s in German election campaigns prejudice and fear of foreign infiltration were fueled, and slogans like "the boat is full "spread. What were the consequences that have been drawn after arson attacks against the homes of asylum seekers and housing of Turkish families in Hoyerswerda, Rostock, Solingen and Mölln in the 90s? The political consequence was that the former Article 16 § 2 paragraph was deleted. CDU Minister of Interior, Mr. Kanther rejoiced in an interview about the strong decline in refugee numbers His comment: "this result would not have been achieved without the public debate that of course, has also generated degrees of heat. " He actually said degrees of heat.
"Words can become acts," the Chancellor complaines. We remember the words of a politician of the CSU who spoke of " a racially society", and letters from readers who rebelled against "the fuss surrounding the death of a few Turks." It is worth asking if it's just a coincidence that right-wing extremists of Zwickau became racists and murderers in such a climate? Even the racist and inhumane theses of Thilo Sarrazin could thrive on this soil and spread.
In another European country, in Norway, the Master Race has cost 77 young lives. Anders Breivik, a rabid racist and opponents of Islam had, contacts with other European far-right organizations, including the NSU, which is behind the so-called Zwickau murders. There is a debate in Norway how far the offender can be sentenced as fully accountable. He pleads guilty and says he had to defend himself. He sees himself as an executor of an "anti-Islamic campaign" and as a fighter against the 'Marxist-multicultural dictatorship. " The question is how his madness developed. Can he be dismissed as individual mental disorder, or rather should not be asked, how much guilt. society in Norway, in Germany or in any other European country in the development of such madness has.
Islamophobia in Europe is being widely spread. People of Muslim faith living in European countries are discriminated against and made to potential terrorists. Although only a tiny minority of Muslims around the world are committed to radical Islamism. The fear of terrorism is exacerbated in order to strengthen safety laws and impose uninterrupted monitoring.
With racist and xenophobic slogans, right-wing extremists always succeeded to be re-elected in local city and municipal parliaments. Not only in eastern Germany but also in West German cities like Munich for example. Were NPD member Karl Richter was elected to the city council on a "citizens foreigners stop". He received his votes especially with propaganda against the construction of a mosque in Munich Sendling.
In addition to banning the NPD and the fight against right-wing groups, resistance against racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia must intensify throughout Europe. Every nation has to wonder what's wrong in society when his right-wing extremes grow winn elections.
I would like to quote the conclusion of the legacy of the survivors of German concentration camps:The last eyewitness appeal to Germany, to all European states and the international community, to preserve and appreciate in the future the human gift of remembrance and commemoration. We ask young people to continue our struggle against the Nazi ideology, and for a just, peaceful and tolerant world. A world were anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and right-extremism have no place. It hurts and it and outrages us very much to conclude today that:The world learned too little from our history.
on the bronze sculpture by Hubertus von Pilgrim,