The Kristallnacht Demonstration

Last Saturday a neo-nazi row was supposed to take place in the area of Prague Jewish town. A distasteful idea that is, taking account of the history of the area also known as the Jewish Ghetto (historical) or Josefov. The 1941- 1945 years were the period of the harshest violence against the Prague Jews in its history. However brutal the previous pogroms were these were less common than in the case of middle age Germany, Spain or Russia. The massive deportation of Prague Jews meant death for thousands. The walls of the Pinkas synagogue carry the names of 77 297 victims.

Kristallnacht, the large pogrom in the Nazi Germany, marked the start of the systematic mass murder of European Jews. The Nazi skinheads from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany announced an assembly at the day of its anniversary, pretending it’s a mere coincidence.
Fortunately, the anti-Nazi turnout easily overshadowed the organizers and the march itself was prohibited in the end.

Most of the demonstrations were peaceful. The Jewish organizations and various groups sent a clear message to the majority: ignorance may be bliss, but it’s often suicidal. The neo-nazi illustration photo anarchists, holding a demo on their own, sent a clearer message, one of aggression. Frankly I have a problem judging them for breaking the rules. Their approach could be understood when seen in contrast to the sadism of the neo-nazis, who are used to brutally attacking just about anybody and sometimes even killing people, and in contrast to the usually lax approach of the Czech police. The problems arise when the Nazis turn out to be weaker than thought and when the Czech police turns out no to be lax.

This time the police stopped the skinheads and the radical anarchists looked somewhat betrayed. They came to have a fight and now it’s over. It seems crazy to me. All those who take part on a demo to block the neo-nazis from marching through the places that witnessed their idol’s heinous crimes should celebrate if the march was off in the end. The confrontation itself is not the point.

I have to add one more note: the Czech media tend to oversimplify just about everything and there’s no exception in this case. Having witnessed quite a part of the demo I can say that the group describes as “anarchists” consisted of many different groups of people, many of them students and people with no thirst for blood. The hardest core consisted of several dozens. The majority were those who just wanted to express their disgust over the existence of tendencies such as celebrating the Holocaust by people living in this society.

I personally hope that the neo-Nazis will not be allowed to demonstrate in the capital any more. And if they will, I hope the opposite side will be sensible. Excesses from the “anarchists” side marginalize the distinction between them and the Nazi skinheads in the eyes of uninformed public.

One thing the previous Saturday did prove: anti-Semitism is very marginal a sentiment in the Czech Republic. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Nov 23, 10:48 (Filed under: News )

« Jindrich Streit – photographic exhibition in Prague | Prague legends – Dalibor »