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More than 600 people protest in Ústí nad Labem against neo-Nazis, children gassed in Lidice also "turn their backs" on them

Usti nad Labem, 16.4.2009 15:21, (ROMEA)

Opponents of the neo-Nazis held a concert today to protest a march being convened on Saturday by the Autonomous Nationalist movement in Ústí nad Labem. More than 600 people gathered on Mírové náměstí. The organizers planned the high point of the evening to be a performance by the band Pražský výběr, fronted by outgoing Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb.

Organizers intentionally planned the concert for Wednesday in order to avoid the neo-Nazis this Saturday. They want the streets of the town to be as empty as possible on the day of the march. "We have an immodest aim, namely, we want everyone in Ústí to reject the neo-Nazis. We want them to say, 'Yeah, Ústí, it wasn't worth it there, I won't be going there for any more Nazi events'," said Miroslav Brož of the "We don't want neo-Nazis in Ústí" Initiative, which organized the concert.

"We know their intellectual background all too well, they are just a bunch of primitives who are unaware of the impact of what they are doing. They march around in the colors of the German Reich, they are neo-Nazis who to a certain extent are not even aware that they themselves would have fallen prey to the German Nazi apparatus," Michael Kocáb said prior to the concert on the "20 minutes with Radiožurnál" radio program.

Kocáb told journalists that even though he had come to Ústí to play music, he considered his participation to be part of his work as minister. He says the neo-Nazis actually intend the march as a covert celebration of the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth on 20 April. "This is comical, because these Czech neo-Nazis would have ended up in the ovens of the Reich," he said. In his view, the bombing of the the town, which the neo-Nazis allegedly want to commemorate, cannot be criticized because it was a military blow against the Third Reich.

Kocáb insists he will come to Ústí nad Labem on Saturday to observe the march, because he has never experienced a similiar neo-Nazi action during his brief time as minister. He added that he would attempt to respond to the march, but since he ends his term as minister in several days, he allegedly will not have time to propose a change to the law on assembly in order to help town councillors protect their municipalities from similar marches.

Representatives of labor unions also came to Ústí nad Labem today to support the event against the neo-Nazis. The chair of the Regional Council of Labor Unions, Jiří Cingr, told ČTK that union members are well aware of the hidden danger the neo-Nazis represent. In his view they are attempting to abuse the current economic crisis just as the Nazis did in Germany during the 1930s.

Cingr reminded the press that it was not the first time North Bohemian union activists have taken action against Nazi marches. In February, when German neo-Nazis marched in Dresden, Czech labor union members traveled there to support their opponents. In return, German labor union representatives came to Ústí nad Labem today.

Today an enormous billboard was unveiled on the building of the Ústí town hall showing a photograph of the statues of children at the Holocaust memorial in Lidice, photographed from behind. The billboard reads "The children of Lidice are also turning their backs on the neo-Nazis" in Czech and German.

According to Brož, it is no accident that the neo-Nazis selected the square in town that they did for their event. "The children in that photograph were gassed by the Nazis. We believe that if the neo-Nazis meet on a square that has been named in those children's honor and give speeches there, it is a desecration of their memory - a dance by murderers on the graves of their victims," he said. As part of its campaign, the initiative called on others to photograph themselves turning their backs on the neo-Nazis. Currently there are said to be more than 600 such photos, many of them by groups of people.

The Autonomous Nationalist movement has permission for three marches in Ústí nad Labem this Saturday. Officially, they intend to commemorate the victims of the bombing of the town in April 1945, but opponents of the march claim this is just an excuse to hold a commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler, which falls on 20 April. Neo-Nazis from Germany will also attend.

Gwendolyn Albert, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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