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Commentary: Neo-Nazis don't belong in Kraslice, they just want money and violence

Kraslice, 7.9.2013 0:00, (ROMEA)
Štěpán Ripka, chair of the Platform for Social Housing in the Czech Republic (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)
Štěpán Ripka, chair of the Platform for Social Housing in the Czech Republic (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Tomorrow a hate march will be held in the town of Kraslice in the Karlovy Vary region. Under the pretext of an election rally, the march is being convened by the neo-Nazi DSSS party, led by Tomáš Vandas.

Vandas doesn't care about Kraslice. At the start of his career, he was connected with the Czech Border Clubs against the Sudeten Germans (Kluby českého pohraničí proti sudetským Němcům), but today he is friends with the German neo-Nazi party NPD, which is demanding the return of the Sudetenland to Germany. He obviously has no problem changing his opinions as necessary and is merely an opportunist.

Earlier this summer, the DSSS published an untrue press release about Romani crime in Kraslice. Otakar Mika, Vice-Mayor of Kraslice, has confirmed that he reviewed that press release in July with police and determined that the "facts" presented there by Vandas are fictional, as police records prove.

Officials in Kraslice didn't want to give Vandas any more publicity for tomorrow's march, so they didn't comment on it back in July. Now, however, it must be clearly said that Vandas is exaggerating, if not inventing, the problems he wants to discuss.

The DSSS chair is also calling on people to vote for him even though he must know he has no chance of getting into parliament. Vandas is interested in only one thing - getting at least 80 000 people to vote for his party so it will qualify for a subsidy of CZK 8 million from the state.

Police have been vehemently convincing local Roma residents and people from all over the region to stay home tomorrow and not stand up to the DSSS march. I propose that the municipality and the police should instead be convincing the locals organizing the hate march that it is they who should stay home.

In my opinion, it is specious to argue that when one protests against neo-Nazis, one basically helps them get publicity. Should people with a different opinion from them just sit at home?  

Should those against whom such a march is targeted just wait for a wrathful mob to show up under their windows? I don't think so. 

What would have to happen for Vandas and his supporters to understand that Kraslice does not support neo-Nazism? Local politicians, teachers, school directors, Holocaust survivors and historians, municipal employees and local businesses would have to come out and express their disagreement with neo-Nazism.

Everyone should carry his own banner not just as a citizen, but on behalf of his profession. Politicians and teachers are the most important in this respect.

Two years ago, a similar march was held in the nearby town of Rotava. Several busloads of German neo-Nazis came to aid the Czech neo-Nazis in their efforts.

The procession set out to march through the local housing estate and was led by the mayor, who later said she had just been "monitoring" the situation. That was a complete symbolic victory for the neo-Nazis.

In addition, teachers from the local school also marched in that procession. Romani parents who attended a counter-demonstration in Rotava saw the teachers of their children standing side by side with aggressive neo-Nazis from all over the Czech Republic and Germany. The school director later merely commented that her teachers have the right as citizens to participate in such marches.

Kraslice has already experienced the problems caused by other towns' segregationist housing policies up close, problems that are caused by profit-mad real estate developers. This first started in the town of Sokolov, where the town decided to sell 200 of its apartments at the local housing estate, including their tenants, to a private landlord.

According to former mayor of Sokolov Karel Jakobec, the buildings were allegedly falling apart and the town had no money to repair them. So how much did they sell them for?

The 200 apartments were purchased for CZK 10 million, or about CZK 50 000 per unit. After a Mr Kendík of Liberec purchased the prefabricated apartment blocks, which housed about 1 000 tenants, the great eviction began.  

Under the pretext of reconstructing the buildings, the entrepreneur managed to evict a large portion of the Romani workers of Sokolov, but they found no other housing anywhere else in town. That opportunity was seized upon by other speculators, and people who had never lived in Kraslice before began to stream into town.  

In Kraslice, in just two buildings with a total of 24 apartments, 133 different households came and went over the course of the next six years, a large part of them from Sokolov, but some from towns and villages elsewhere in the region. The vast majority of them have already long since moved away from Kraslice.

Myths have multiplied that a large number of Romani people even into Kraslice from the Chanov housing estate in Most, but those rumors are untrue. Essentially, things have been calm in Kraslice since 2006.

I think the residents of Kraslice should be marching on the former mayor of Sokolov, the entrepreneur Kendík, and the other speculators who are responsible for that large-scale migration of Romani families in the region. They should demand that the Sokolov municipality offer housing once more to the people who were forced to move out of town in the year 2000.

Being anyone's neighbor is never without problems, but it depends on how (and whether) we solve those problems. The hate and violence that Vandas and his skinheads are now proposing, both covertly and overtly, is no solution.

Vandas wants money and his friends want a fight. It is up to local residents to show they do not want neo-Nazis in Kraslice.  

A shorter version of this article was first published on 6 September 2013 in the daily Právo. The author is a sociologist and owns Amati trumpets made in Kraslice.

Štěpán Ripka, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

DSSS, Commentary, Czech republic, Election 2013, Events, Extremism, Neo-Nazism, Racism, Roma



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