With large concern, the FIR and its member federations pursue the current spreading of the Corona virus in Europe. We are not only concerned about the health aspects seizing the entire society, but because this pandemic affects in various forms the anti-fascist and remembrance work of the FIR and all member federations.
Since this week in all German concentration camp memorial places the international commemoration ceremonies on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation were cancelled. These cancellations were – according to our information – coordinated by the memorial site management with the international camp committees. Only the liberation celebrations in Mauthausen in May 2020 have not yet been cancelled. However, the Mauthausen Memorial is closed until the beginning of April due to a government order. The same applies to the Auschwitz Memorial, which has been temporarily closed until the end of March. The reason given for the cancellations was that older people in particular belong to the high-risk groups whose lives are seriously endangered by illness. We welcome such preventive health measures, even if the political damage is immense in our view.
In addition, the projects of the FIR and its member federations are massively obstructed by these precautionary measures for the containment of the pandemic. In Hungary, the annual awarding of the Radnoti price had to be postponed for some months. In Italy, the traditional celebrations to 25 April, the liberation day, are actually endangered. The planned anti-fascist conference of the Russian Veterans Association must also be postponed to the second half of the year. Moreover, the great youth project “Train of Thousand”, the commemorative train from Brussels to Auschwitz, has to be cancelled due to the Europe-wide restrictions on travel possibilities and the health risks for the participants.
Such restrictions are politically painful, but what is important in this situation is that all our comrades-in-arms and especially the veterans of the anti-fascist struggle stay healthy and can continue to make their contribution to our common tasks.
It remains in the responsibility of the FIR and its member federations that after the pandemic has died down, the state institutions and the memorial places should not go over “to the agenda”.
We stand up for the fact that in all memorial places in appropriate form the liberation of the camps will be remembered also in the coming years. The understandable cancellations of this year’s commemorations must not be used as an excuse to ignore this date in the future.
Together with the survivors and their relatives as well as the anti-fascist associations, the memorial sites are obliged also in the future to organize a worthy commemoration and remembrance work corresponding to the survivors’ legacy.
The days of liberation and the Day of Victory on May 9, 1945 remain in the collective memory of the peoples and will continue to be commemorated in the future – regardless of Corona virus and other restrictions.