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Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Warnings against rising neo-Nazism and racism in Czech Republic were heard from speakers at the ceremonial event held Sunday to commemorate the victims that passed through the Terezín ghetto and the local Gestapo prison. Some 1000 people attended the 64th annual meeting at the National Cemetery in Terezín. "As a Jew and citizen of this country I feel threatened by neo-Nazis. The protection of democracy has to begin in time. Romanies are the target of the attacks today, Jews will come after them and then the others. Action needs to be taken," Terezín Memorial director Jan Munk said. Munk pointed to growing aggressiveness and hatred that can be seen in the streets of Czech towns, referring to far-right marches. He appreciated, however, that the reactions of state bodies to this danger are stronger. Andela Dvorakova, head of the Czech Freedom Fighters Association, said it is necessary to fight for freedom more than before. She pointed out that neo-Nazism has been spreading not only in the Czech Republic but all across the world. Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka recalled that the Nazis got to power at the time of the Great Depression when they won the support of a big part of the public through demagogy and populism. "We are passing through a global crisis now, too. And we can see political extremism rising again. One must take a lesson and not trust those who promise simple but unrealistic solutions," Sobotka said.

For Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, the Terezin ghetto is a personal issue because his relative passed through it and most of them did not return. Fischer noted with disappointment that recent simulated elections at Czech secondary schools showed that the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) is rather popular among students. According to the elections, over 7 percent of secondary school students support the DSSS. Eighty-three-year-old Bohumil Porges from nearby Roudnice nad Labem takes part in the meeting commemorating the victims regularly. Being a Jew, Porges was deported to the Terezin ghetto in 1943 and then moved to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I was lucky to survive. And I also had a place to return. My parents were from mixed marriages and so they did not deport them," Porges said. "Most of my peers with experience from Terezin have already died. However, I am still in contact with the brothers of writer Ota Pavel - Hugo and Jiri," he added. The Nazis dragged some 155,000 Jews from all over of Europe to the Terezin ghetto in 1941-1945. Some 117,000 did not live to see the liberation of the country. About 32,000 people passed through the Gestapo prison in the Terezin Small Fortress. Some 2600 of them died in Terezin, further thousands in other Nazi camps. The Terezin Memorial has paid tribute to the victims since 1947. In 1991 the Ghetto Museum was opened. It documents the Jews' fates.

Prague Monitor