Second study visit on anti-fascism finished in the Netherlands


A second study visit to the Netherlands on anti-racism and anti-fascism finished last week. The organizers of this tour for the young Russian activists were the European Network Against Racism (UNITED for Intercultural Action), the International Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) and the Youth Network against Racism and Intolerance (YNRI).

As well as last year, the main purpose of the visit was to explore new techniques, tactics and strategies of the anti-fascist and anti-racist actions, and to compare Russian and Dutch experience of civic engagement.

For nearly a week, the participants of the visit (activists who develop various anti-fascist and anti-racist initiatives in Russia, correspondents and participants of the YHRM from Moscow, Volgograd and Voronezh), met and talked with Dutch NGOs (the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Global Human Rights Defence, Radar, the oldest of the existing LGBT organizations COC), became acquainted with the various anti-fascist and anti-racist projects in Amsterdam (as well as Rotterdam, The Hague, etc.): educational, informational, political, etc.

The Netherlands has its own experience of countering discrimination in the past, especially during WWII. The participants attended a lecture about it in the best historical museum of the Netherlands – the Dutch Resistance Museum. The exposition also showed the history of the Dutch people in the 30-50s: how it turned out that thousands of citizens (primarily - Jews and homosexuals) were removed from the country and ended their days in the "death camps"; what choice those people, against whom the Nazi regime did not act directly, made: to help the invaders, to tolerate or to resist.

The memorial "Auschwitz. Never Again” is also devoted to this time. Its broken mirror reflects the contemporary Dutch sky that will never be the same after what it went through. The composition of the three pink granite triangles is a homomonument in memory of prisoners-homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. It was created to support and encourage homosexual men and women in their struggle against discrimination and repression.

Another museum keeps the story told in a personal diary of the Jewish girl Anne Frank, whose family was hiding from the Nazis for a long time. One of the friends of the family betrayed them, so Anne ended her short life in a concentration camp. The museum also held discussions on modern fascism and authoritarianism.

The participants also explored the technology of creating provocative space for reflection and discussion about what is happening in our world. Can we really say that the horror experienced by Europe in the early 40s is the past that will never return?

It should be noted that this year the YHRM and the museum have co-launched a joint educational project in Russia. The traveling exhibition "Anne Frank. History Lesson" is an important part of this project.

In addition to exploring the experience of local initiatives and organizations, the participants of the visit showed a movie about modern fascism in Russia, followed by a discussion on the situation of discrimination and xenophobia in Russia, which took place in one of the alternative cafes. Civil society activists, who are interested in contemporary forms of fascism in Europe, were very interested in this subject, actively asked questions and debated.

The visit was part of a series of study visits, co-organized by YHRM and UNITED within the framework of the 3-year project "Civil society organizations in the service of society: youth actions against - racism, nationalism and xenophobia, for - human rights and intercultural dialogue". The project started in November 2009 with the support of the MATRA program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

The information about the opportunity to participate in the following exchanges will be circulated later through the regular newsletters of the YHRM, as well as a website.

YHRM Information Service