Fédération International Résistance

Speech of General Secretary Ulrich Schneider in Auschwitz

May 10, 2015

Ulrich SchneiderAs Secretary-General of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters – Association of Anti-fascists, I am pleased and proud that this great project of European youth meeting could take place again under the common slogan of historical commemoration.

It is an impressive activity connected with the 70th anniversary of liberation from fascism and war, which is in many countries celebrated as “Day of Victory Day”, to commemorate the common European history of the Anti-Hitler-Coalition. First of all there were the forces of the Allies – here in Auschwitz, the units of the Soviet army – who have reached the military defeat of the fascist Wehrmacht and its collaborators. For this we have to thank the Allies.

But in all European countries and also in Italy and Germany have been women and men, they organized the resistance fight against fascism in power and thus they made their own contributions for the liberation. They, too, deserve our great thanks.

It is up to us – the representatives of the today’s generations – with this common activity to take over from the last survivors of the eyewitness’s generation the responsibility for the preservation of memory. We – and especially you as later generations – should take this knowledge, what you have kept in preparation for this trip and appropriated today, not just for yourselves, but pass it to your friends, acquaintances or in school.

Auschwitz is the international symbol of racist extermination policy, directed against Jewish people, against Sinti and Roma, against the Slav nations which were regarded as subhuman being. These prisoners here in Auschwitz were killed by gas and other mass destruction, but also murdered by the plundering of their labor for profit, for example for the IG Farben group.

All this we must not forget, if we want to prevent such things ever again.
But we cannot just remember. We have to realize also that today neo-fascism, racism, xenophobia, nationalism and right-wing populism in several European countries raise its head again. Many of you know from our own countries such neo-fascist groups and movements. Even in the European Parliament, these forces are represented.

The causes of the revival are different. There are real political and economic problems in numerous European countries, to this such groups give racist, nationalist and extreme right answers. When we realize this, we must look for solutions together, fighting the real causes of these problems, and not follow the wrong answers and pied pipers.

For us, the solution is currently: Fascism is not an opinion but a crime!
Today we are commemorating here in the Memorial Auschwitz. Tomorrow you will return to your everyday life – with the knowledge and experience that you have collected at this great meeting. Take this enforcement with you and be active yourselves at home, in your social circle for the goals of a just, a social, a democratic world.

All survivors of the concentration camps promised 70 years ago, only to be quiet when the last culprit stands before the judges of the people. “The extermination of Nazism with its roots is our slogan, creating a new world of peace and freedom is our goal!”

The survivors of the Nazi concentration camps and prisons will no longer be able to realize this goal. Now it’s up to you, dear young fellows, to take over the legacy and work on it.

We, and I speak on behalf of about 60 member federations of the FIR from 25 European countries, Israel and Latin America, we count on you.