Saxony needs the Antifa.
The Antifa needs money.
In the battle against right-wing extremism and racism, anti-fascist groups cannot rely upon state support. So, we are spreading it around! We have transferred ten thousand euros from the state to Antifa groups. In exchange, we have purchased ten important anti-fascist objects from them. Starting on 15 th August, these items will be on display at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz (art museum) as part of the exhibition Antifa – Myth & Truth. The objects tell of the struggle for democracy and human rights, the battle against neo-Nazis and racism.
The media’s image of Antifa as stone-throwing hooligans falls short. Stereotypes that are repeated by parties such as the CDU, AfD and FDP, by security agencies and secret services and by media, in order to carve them into the collective memory. In his “horseshoe theory”, the political scientist Eckhardt Jesse identifies left- and right-wing extremism as the two ends of the political spectrum, putting the Antifa groups on the same level with violent neo-Nazis. Less than a month after a right-wing attack on a synagogue in Halle, Saxony pursued this line of political reasoning and announced the foundation of a special commission on left-wing extremism. This equation is absurd, even fatal. It may be that a car is burned every once in a while in Saxony, but nevertheless, it is always the anti-fascists who defend an idea of democracy and human rights against all threats from neo-Nazis and racists.
The exhibition Antifa – Myth & Truth is dedicated to the diversity of anti-fascist work. Ten objects tell of the fight for democracy and human rights, the fight against neo-Nazis and racism, and contrast the degradation of anti-fascism with its diversity and beauty.
Loud, expressive, quiet, continuous, spontaneous: anti-fascism is diverse
The spray can by Irmela Mensah-Schramm – publicly known as ‘Sprayer Oma‘ – tells us that a committed citizen is confronted with numerous criminal proceedings for damage to property due to over-spraying Nazi graffiti in public spaces.
After the murders and bombings perpetrated by the National Socialist Underground, or NSU, security services not only ignored all of the clues pertaining to neo-Nazi criminals provided by survivors, but even concentrated on investigating the victims themselves for up to eleven years; evidence of this is found in the three-part indictment from the three NSU Tribunals.
The banner on display stating Faschismus ist keine Meinung, sondern ein Verbrechen (‘Fascism is not an opinion, but a crime‘) comes from the VVN-BdA, one of Germany’s oldest anti-fascist organizations, founded in 1947 by survivors of Nazi crimes. Due to their political engagement last year, they were deprived of their non-profit status.
But we are also telling the stories differently: a seventy-five-year-old woman declared war on right-wing graffiti and Nazi rabble-rousing thirty years ago with her spray cans and scrapers. Last year, the third NSU Tribunal took place in Chemnitz and Zwickau. Victims of the NSU complex, immigrants, People of color, and Black people talked about their experiences with racism, and, along with the participants, called for a diverse, post-migrant society. The VVN-BdA has not only fought for sixty-three years against the renewed strength of neo-Nazism, but also keeps alive warning recollections of the Holocaust in the collective memory.
Antifa – Myth & Truth shows our reality, in which many anti-fascists and anti-racists daily face racism and neo-nazism in various ways. Sometimes loud and expressive, sometimes quiet, continuous or spontaneous. This diversity is the real face of anti-fascism!
Anti-fascism is under pressure worldwide
Around the world, anti-fascism is under pressure from the rise of nationalist, populist movements. The American president, Donald Trump, declared Antifa as a terrorist organization. The chairwoman of the SPD (Germany’s Social Democratic Party) Saskia Esken, openly confessed her support for Antifa, causing an uproar in the German media, with the CDU ( conservative Christian Democratic Party) declaring that it was “inconceivable”. And yet, the struggle against racism and populist nationalism, especially in Saxony, is more necessary than ever. The street-smart, essentially uncontrolled operation of the Saxon intelligence service in the NSU complex; the presence of right-wing extremists in the LKA, or State Office of Investigations, and among the police; or the “Nazi-or-what-else-do-you-call-him” judge Jens Maier on the Dresden State Court reveal the racism at all institutional levels. Pegida and Pro Chemnitz take it to the streets and the the extrem right-wing party AfD (‘Alternative for Germany ‘) with its 27.5 % of the vote, brings it into parliamentary politics.
For immigrants, People of color, Black and queer people, refugees, and members of left-wing subcultures, it is a daily challenge to live in Saxony. Often, their only protection is provided by anti-fascist groups. No other german federal state winds up in the headlines as often due to racist violence: Clausnitz, Heidenau, Freital, Bautzen, Meißen, Freiberg, Meerane, Löbau, Chemnitz. Physical assaults on people, lodgings and Turkish or Jewish restaurants (2018 turkish restaurant ‘Mangal‘ and jewish restaurant ‘Schalom‘) set on fire, the erection of “nationalist free zones”. Nazi terror organizations, such as Gruppe Freital or Revolution Chemnitz, keep forming. Even the NSU “network of comrades” lives on and continues, undisturbed, to have an effect through prevailing policies.
In an era of right-wing terrorist murders like those in Hanau and Halle, with the assassination of the politician Walter Lübcke, the police group NSU 2.0, and new instances of right-wing extremist police and soldiers always turning up, with right-wing extremist criminals and terrorist plotters merely given slaps on the wrist, public funding for anti-fascist and anti-racist work and commitments is more important than ever!
Alerta, Alerta Antifascista!
Yalla, Yalla Migrantifa!