27 January is the day Auschwitz was liberated. 75 years ago, Red Army troops reached the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the largest of the Nazi camps.
In 1996, Germany began commemorating the date on the grounds that future generations must never forget the crimes of National Socialism. By 2005, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution encouraging governments around the world to mark the date as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
So, have we learned the lessons of the past? European antisemitism lead to the holocaust. Racism, bigotry, xenophobia, national chauvinism and the poisonous ideology of Nazi eugenics created the conditions necessary for mass murder. Could those conditions ever exist again? Is racism and far-right bigotry on the rise across Europe?
What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from reader Tony, who feels strongly that countries in the EU are becoming more racist. He says: “I am a migrant and have lived in several countries, and the only place I have been discriminated against is in EU.”
To get a response to Tony, we spoke to Anetta Kahane, co-founder and chair of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, which campaigns against far-right extremism, xenophobia, and antisemitism. What would she say to Tony’s comment?
I don’t think Europe is more racist than other continents. I think there is very, very serious racism in Asian countries and there is also racism in some African regions, there is of course racism in North America and very seriously in South America; but there are different circumstances each time.
All in all, I would say that there are two parallel movements in Europe: firstly, racism is named more clearly and because it is named and discussed, there is also an encouraging increase in addressing other racist incidents. That means that there is the impression that racism is growing. I honestly do not believe that this is definitely the case compared to the fifties, sixties, seventies or eighties because at the same time, there are much more mixed societies in all European countries.
Making a comparison to the 1950s, immigration has become so normal in European countries, at least in Western Europe, that we are dealing with racism but of course also with a much more diverse society. In my opinion there is proportionally less racism. I think that the actual number is very high, which we absolutely have to punish and outlaw and fight with all available means, but in relation to the circumstances, both the numerical and behaviour of right and wrong, there is now relatively less racism.
For another perspective, we also put Tony’s comment to Ojeaku Nwabuzo, Senior Research Officer at the European Network Against Racism. What would she say?
Are we becoming more racist and bigoted? Is racism a European invention? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!