Today it’s January 27th 2014 and it’s 69 years now since prisoners from the death camp of Auschwitz were liberated in 1945. They were the few survivors from the Holocaust during World War II. The Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg had one year earlier prepared his last journey to Budapest, Hungary during the Spring of 1944. This in order to save Hungarian Jews from being transported to the death camps by the Nazi régime and their local allies – The Arrow-Crossers. In the Holocaust during World War II, 1939 – 1945, more than six million Jews were killed in various horrible ways. They were persecuted, robbed, beaten, tortured, shot or gassed to death. The Nazi ideology said that the blond German “race” was superior and all other people less worthy. Some people neither had any right to exist at all, but had to be put to death. But not only the Jews were killed like this. Also about half a million Romany people were executed. Later this year we will commemorate the memory of the victims from the horrible “Gypsy night” when more than 3000 Romanies were killed on August 3d 1944 in Auschwitz. Handicapped,Communists, people active in unions, political enemies of the Nazis, dissidents and other intellectuals were also persecuted and killed, ended up in prison or conzentration camps. All in all ca 11 million people were murdered in the Holocaust. In 1999 our former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson took the initiative to make January 27th a day of annual remembrance in the Swedish calendar, and in 2005 the United Nations also chose to notify the importance of this day on a global scale.
Both yesterday and today the remembrance of the victims from the Holocaust were commemorated on many places in Sweden, also in Malmoe. Yesterday there was a service of commemoration in the Jewish synagogue in town. I had contacted them a couple of days earlier about it and was invited to come. So yesterday afternoon I took my darkblue kippa with white edging, and walked away to the synagogue. The service should start at four o’ clock. Two high-ranking police officers were present as invited guests, just as our top politician in town, Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, Social Democrat, and Head of the Municipality Board. She was also one of the speakers. Among the approximately 200 guests were Björn Lagerbäck, from the People’s Party the Liberals, who initiated and untill recently was the leader of the Municipal inter-religious and inter-cultural Dialogue Forum. There the different groups in Malmoe meet and try to find solutions on different conflicts: hate crimes, schisms etc, and instead create bridges through meetings: education, seminars and co-operations over the religious and ethnic borders. In the Jewish synagogue yesterday I also saw two representatives from the Pakistani Ahmadiye Muslim congregation in Malmoe, and two others from the Romany Information and Knowledge Centre, Romskt Informations- och Kunskapscenter. We warmly greeted each other when we shook hands. We all use to meet and discuss sometimes.
Yesterday’s programme began with a song by Leonard Cohen called “Dance me to the end of Love”. The singer Adrienne Mannov from Copenhagen, Denmark was accompanied by the guitar player Mikkel Andersen. After that two girls in their early teens walked up to the big Menorah, the seven-armed candlestick in front of the altar and lit six candles for the six million killed Jews and one for the other victims. Fred Kahn, chairman of the Jewish congregation in Malmoe held the initiating speech. Fred spoke of all those who had been killed, and how Raoul Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary during 1944, but also how millions were put to death in the vast, cruel genocide in different parts of Eastern Europe mostly. Also how antisemitic notions were parts of the mentality in our society in those days. As Fred mentioned with a famous qoute, it may start with the Jews, but it never ends there, but other groups will allways be persecuted and killed after that, no matter what. Fred Kahn reminded us that the situation today is dire, and not unlike the days leading up to World War II. Antisemitism is growing in several ways: we see Nazis marching in the streets again, Nazi propaganda published, hate sites on the Internet, antisemitism among people’s from and in the Middle East, reflecting the situation also in Sweden and Malmoe, as well as antisemitism in the Swedish church partly. But as Fred also reflected, also other groups are targetted in Malmoe and the rest of Sweden, the Romanies, the Muslims, and other groups too. Transgender people, Christians, people of African descent. Groups are put against groups. In Europe Neo-Nazis are growing in strength along with other extreme so called nationalists, while the Middle East, some African countries and other parts of the world right now are bleeding from internal and external hate and strife from ideological and social turmoil.
One old antisemitic myth used by Christians against Jews in the Middle Ages 600 – 1000 years ago was that the Jews drank blood from Christian babies, which is pure nonsense. The same myth has been reproduced by other peoples from the Middle East in our days. As late as the other week a representative from the Muslim congregation in Örebro had said that Ariel Sharon at a wedding had taken the blood from a baby to drink and serve. Ariel Sharon was no angel and performed many cruel things, but that legend was nothing else than an antisemitic myth. On his way to synagogue yesterday Fred Kahn noticed a sign in central Malmoe which said: “Blood pudding, yummi – Ariel Sharon”. The Mosaic/Jewish congregation has to lay lots of finances on safety measures, guards etc because of all the hatred. About 50% of the local Jews do not always openly reveal their identity because of all the harrassments and all the prejudiced hatred in Malmoe and Sweden. That is why the dialogue is so important to oppose the hate. Earlier today, Monday January 27th, a suggestion was published in the free sheet City, a suggestion about a combined kippa and hijab walk, where both men with Jewish kippot and women with Muslim female hijabs would walk through town as a symbol of mutual respect and acceptance. The last kippa-walk was held in May 2013 when the photo below was taken.
After Fred Kahn’s speech the traditional Ladino tune “Durme, durme” was sung by Adrianne Mannov and then Katrin Stjernfeldt Jamme entered the podium. As head of the municipality she has emphasized the importance of a secure city, with diaologue, education, green values, social welfare and medical care. She too talked about the victims of the Holocaust, but also reminded us of the Danish Jews which almost all of them were rescued by Danish and Scanian seamen and other ordinary people in October 1943. About ten thousand Jews were then rescued from being transported by the Nazis to their death camps in central and eastern Europe from the occupied Denmark. The Jewish refugees then ended up in Malmoe and Helsingborg mainly. Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh also emphasized the importance of putting light on the horrors experienced by different groups in society, the war and genocides in former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, the worrying growth of Facism and Nazism in today’s Europe. The Neo-Nazi party Jobbik in Hungary where Wallenberg saved Jews from Jobbik’s predecessors the Arrow-Crossers in 1944 has now taken place in Parliament and ordered to make lists on all Jews in today’s Hungary, of Romanies, and political enemies. In Greece Neo Nazi party Golden Dawn has persecuted and killed oppositional people and immigrants there. Here in Sweden the so called Social Conservative party the Sweden Democrats which has Neo Nazi roots and connections now has ten percent of the votes, and more distinct Neo Nazis create disturbance, intimidate and perform hate crimes. The phrase Social Conservatism also is eerily similar to National Socialism, i.e. Nazism. It’s a party with very conservative, race biological and cynical notions, extremely xenophobic and with outspokenly misogyn attitudes. During the Crystal Night on 9th – 10th of November 1938 the German Nazis persecuted and killed 400 and persecuted thousands of Jews all over the realm as a prelude to World War II. In November 2013, 75 years later in the Swedish capital city Stockholm when the Crystal Night was to be commemorated a Nazi group arranged a demonstration. When a couple of Jews with Israeli flags came to the ordinary manifestation in memory of their great grandfathers and others in Stockholm they were angrily told to take away the Jewish symbol by other demonstrators with Hammas banners and red flags. This made the descendants of the victims from 1938 very upset and sad since the day was in memory of their old loved ones.
Willy Silberstein was the next speaker. He told us that his father had been among those who were put on lists by the Hungarian Arrow-Crossers, but managed to get out of Hungary in time, and so escaped a certain death. Gerry Eilenberg, head of the Jewish Culture Association 1945 in Malmoe came here as one of the rescued people at the end of the war. Here he settled, formed a family, got children and grand-children and now a fourth generation has began to grow up. After Gerry Eilenberg’s speech Adrianne Mannov and Mikkel Andersen performed “Gracias a la vida”/Thank you for life”. Finally Rabbi Shneur Kesselman with his black robe, black kippa and big black hat came up to the podium. The Rabbi has a big black beard too and speaks with an American accent. As the Rabbi entered the podium we all rose from our benches and he then read the prayer for the dead, “El Mole Rachamim”. With that he concluded the service and walked out of the room.
Keeping a vicious wheel of hatred, prejudice and evil schemes going in order to kill and mutilate is part of human nature, but the worst traits of our human nature. Since we now live in a time of modern weapons of mass destruction it threatens to turn our world into an increasing globe of death, destruction and wasted lands. Ruined cities, villages laid waste, destroyed infra-structures, scarce groups of people here and there, poverty, famine, small bands of bandits and robbers…maybe. A few good people…maybe, wild animals, lots of dead decaying human corpses – a human desolation. Then vicious storms, cold blizzards and deep snow destroying remaining technical equipment, killing people and animals. Even more wounded and no medicine. Then earth quakes, drought, heavy rains and floods. Maybe some destruction from the skies? Where will we go? This will be the future for us or our children if we continue on the road of hate. Dialogue is needed for all of us as well as using our ideologies for a good purpose.
Anders Moberg, January the 27th 2014
Intressanta saker du skriver om Anders! Förresten så känner jag de flesta i den sista bilden där. Jag är aktiv i Alhambras studentförening som arbetar med muslimska studenter. Kul att springa på dig idag! Jag har själv en blogg med lite tankar och ibland om Islam. Besök gärna http://www.trainofthoughts.blogg.se //Ansari
Tack, Ansari. Ja, det var kul att stöta på dig. Nu arbetar jag alltså med att utbilda vuxna invandrare vid Radix Kompetens. Visst ska jag spana in din blogg också. Må gott.