No international nazi march in memory of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, in Wunsiedel!
No to the German "we were victims" lie!
Don’t let them make heroes of the Nazis!
No to the glorification of Nazism!

Wunsiedel Day of Action 2005

Ever since the war criminal and the last top Nazi prisoner of the allies, Rudolf Hess, hanged himself in Berlin in 1986, the anniversary of his death has been used by the nazi movement in Germany, and internationally, to pay homage to Nazism.

Sixty years after Europe’s liberation from national socialism, thousands of European nazis will again march in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel to commemorate Hess’s death and to glorify the Nazi regime that he served.

Since 2001 this annual demonstration has been allowed legally to take place under the leadership of Hamburg nazi lawyer Jürgen Rieger in Wunsiedel, where Hess’s remains are buried. Last year, around 4,800 people took part in the march, the biggest number so far in the 18-year history of Hess commemorations and marking, for the international nazi movement, the satisfying outcome of many years of campaigning.

The German antifascist movement finds this shameful demonstration totally unacceptable. Because of this, antifascists of all generations and spanning all political groups, are actively engaged in building up opposition and organising for a united day of antifascist action aimed at showing a massive presence in Wunsiedel on the day of the demonstration.

We want to make it clear that the German and international antifascist movement is not prepared to let the nazis spread their falsifications of history unhindered. On the contrary, we will use this day as a gathering to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Liberation.

The experiences of the survivors of the Liberation struggle and of the concentration and death camps will shine through as an example and an encouragement for today’s generation. We hope, too, that the day of antifascist action will also contribute to the building of the international antifascist movement.

Who was Rudolf Hess? Rudolf Hess joined the Nazi party in 1920 and quickly became one of Hitler’s closest collaborators. As the dictator’s deputy, the fanatical antisemite Hess took part in the whole catalogue of Nazi criminality: the creation of the Nazi terror dictatorship, the annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland and the vicious persecution of the German Jews, their violent ejection from German society and the beginning of the Holocaust. Hess in person and deed is inseparable from the Nazi party and never at any time even attempted to distance himself from the crimes of Nazism. Even in the Nuremberg trials, he boasted that he regretted nothing.

It is this Nazi monster that today’s nazis want to turn into "a pilot for peace" because, in 1941, he flew to Great Britain supposedly to try to make a separate peace with Britain. The real purpose of the exercise was to strengthen the front against the Soviet Union. The same "peace pilot" myth is used to glorify Nazism and to support the spurious claim that Nazi Germany had really wanted peace but had been forced into war by the "criminal allies".

The Hess march has assumed such a special international meaning for the nazis that in recent years extremist representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, the USA and even Russia have taken part.

The Hess march has given the fascists a legal basis for their worship of Nazism and has taken on an increasing importance for their entire spectrum, uniting people of all ages, from a variety of social backgrounds, and even rival factions in their glorification of what Hess and Hitler stood for.

As a result, the Wunsiedel event has taken on the character of a "people’s festival", gathering together SS nostalgists, skinheads, body-pierced Hatecore fans, German revanchists and Hitler Youth admirers in brown shirts or German folk dress. It is an event of enormous meaning for the nazis.

Since 2003, Germany’s biggest fascist party, the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) has also officially taken part and, last year, NPD leaders Udo Voigt and Holger Apfel (now the NPD’s leader in the Saxony regional parliament) marched at the head of the demonstration alongside Rieger. Also at the front of the march was the trio that leads the so-called Free Nationalists and who have become the NPD’s prize recruits:Thomas Wulff, Thorsten Heise and Ralph Tegethoff.

The regional election results in Brandenburg and Saxony last September have provided the right-wing extremists with yet new opportunities. The entry of the NPD into the Saxon regional parliament with a vote of 9.2% – almost 200,000 votes – has enabled the party to elevate its presence in the media, to influence public debate and to pocket €120,000 per month in addition to the salaries of those elected.

The society of the Federal Republic of Germany has reacted to these new developments with near helplessness and any serious action against these inciters of race hate looks unlikely. The much-trumpeted pursuit of energetic argument against the extremists has flopped because the latter have already got their feet firmly planted in the centre of society itself.

Thus, when the NPD, referring to the destruction of Dresden, used the term "bombing Holocaust" on the day devoted to the victims of Nazism, it created nationwide upset and even a short-lived debate about the possibilities of a second attempt at outlawing the party. Nothing was mentioned, however, of the fact that Jörg Friedrich, a historian much praised by the mainstream media, was pushing the same line in his best-selling novel, Der Brand, by claiming that the allied bomber squadrons were Einsatzgruppen, that the burning air raid shelters were "crematoria" and that the German civilian population had been "exterminated" – exactly the same arguments touted by the NPD.

The failure to get to grips with the right-wing extremists politically, which by definition means a battle against racism, antisemitism, nationalism, and falsified history, leads to something else, namely the fact that the only response to provocations, like the NPD’s application to march through Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in mockery of the 60th anniversary of the Liberation, has been to impose further limits on everybody else’s right to demonstrate and the dismantling of their democratic basic rights.

The 60th anniversary of the Liberation is more than a mere historic date because it gives what may be the last opportunity for the survivors of Nazism, the veterans of the anti-fascist resistance and today’s anti-fascists to rally together.

The struggle against fascism is far from over.

The lessons of Nazism have still not been worked through and overcome in German society and politics. Our collective responsibility to the victims of fascism obliges us to stand up to racism, antisemitism, nationalism and militarism and we each bear individual responsibility for ensuring that the fascists never get their hands on power again.

When we stand up together against the nazis, we can defeat them. When we organise opposition to the nazi Hess commemoration, as part of the international fight against fascism and barbarism and for peaceful co-existence of humanity, we can also be victorious.

Antifa-Net, the International Anti-fascist Network for Research and Action

representing anti-fascist initiatives and organisations in Germany, Great Britain, France, Austria,The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Poland and the USA.