Skip to main content

Majoritarian silence, disbelief in minorities 'helped' Nazis gain ground in Europe

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

In a haunting memoir, Piera Sonnino has narrated her devastating experience as a twenty-two-year Italian Jewish woman. She lost her parents and three brothers in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. She is the only holocaust survivor in her family. Her memoir, ‘This has happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz’ provides a moving account of unspeakable evils of Nazism.
The horror started in 1938, when the Italian government promulgated racial laws against Italian Jews and other minority native inhabitants of the Italian colonies. The discriminatory laws prohibited Jews from schools, universities and having any professional positions.
The Italian Jews were banned from working in the armed forces and civil services too. It also banned marriages and sexual relations between Italian, Jews and Africans. Jews were rounded up and deported. The Jews community had lived in Italy for more than two thousand years and well-integrated within Italian culture and life.
It was the Nazis who were responsible for brainwashing common Italians against Jews.The peaceful character of neighbourhoods started changing. The Jewish shops and homes were attacked and burnt down. The killers were not unknown faces but the neighbours and armed police. The people who lived together for centuries with peace and harmony have become Nazi vultures and fascist death squads.
The courageous Piera Sonnino has outlined her personal experiences in two sentences while reflecting on the last night of her family together. She writes: “Whatever I could say that time, it would not make sense translated into words; it would be a thin shadow of that reality. I would be stealing it from myself, from what is mine, desperately mine alone”.
This personal memory reflects the collective pain of Jewish communities across Europe.Such a vile transformation was not a surprise. It did not happen overnight, accidentally or naturally. The majoritarian silence and disbelief of the minority communities have allowed the twin evils of fascism and Nazism, which engulfed Italian society and other parts of Europe within couple of years. 
It does not reflect the success of Nazis and fascists. It reflects the silence of the majority. Silence was not the best choice but the majority of people had silently accepted the government’s official bigoted propaganda against the Jews.
The official optimisms of the evil regime did everything to hide the prevailing economic catastrophe, it diverted people’s attention to constructed narratives against Jewish communities. The displacement, disintegration and deaths of the Jewish communities were the net outcomes of evil regime. The migration of Jewish communities to different part of Europe did not save their lives. 
Only few people like Piera Sonnino survived to share the horror of Nazism and fascism in which mere Jewish existence is a crime punishable by death. And prison become home to humanism, reason, rationality, ethics and the people, who fought for the rights of the Jewish people. The partisans were perished in prison and bullets along with their Jewish compatriots. The communists and socialists were in the forefront in defence of Jewish people, and in the battle against Nazism and fascism.
Piera Sonnino’s autobiography is not only a chilling history of a Jewish family in Italy but a warning sign for the present generation to be vigilant about the rise of fascism
Piera Sonnino’s autobiography is not only a chilling history of a Jewish family in Italy but also a warning sign for the present generation to be vigilant about the rise of fascism of our times. Mass genocide, absolute devastation, disappearances and mass imprisonments are the human costs of silence in the face of fascism.
As poet Professor Michael Rosen warns us in his poem in following words:
"Fascism: I sometimes fear...
I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.
Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you...
It doesn't walk in saying,
'Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution'."
Piera Sonnino’s devastating autobiography and Michael Rosen’s poem is a daily reminder for all of us to be alert and fight back fascism in all its forms. Silence is not an option. As authoritarian regimes continue to grow with the help of religious right-wing forces and free market fundamentalists, it is time to raise our voice against these forces before they consolidate their power and positions.
Majoritarian silence is not fear but betrayal of its own existence. Active resistance is the only form of solidarity that the time demands from every patriotic Indian. It is the duty to provide unwavering support to all persecuted religious minorities and stand in solidarity with all struggles of working-class people across the globe.
This is the only way towards peace, prosperity and survival of a secular, multicultural and democratic world. The united struggle against fascism is the only alternative for the human survival.
---
Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

AMR: A gathering storm that threatens a century of progress in medicine

By Bobby Ramakant*  A strategic roundtable on “Charting a new path forward for global action against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)” was organised at the 77th World Health Assembly or WHA (WHA is the apex decision-making body of the World Health Organization – WHO, which is attended by all countries that are part of the WHO – a United Nations health agency). AMR is among the top-10 global health threats “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing and urgent crisis which is already a leading cause of untimely deaths globally. More than 2 people die of AMR every single minute,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “AMR threatens to unwind centuries of progress in human health, animal health, and other sectors.”

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Top Punjab Maoist who failed to analyse caste question, promoted economism

By Harsh Thakor*  On June 15th we commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Harbhajan Singh Sohi or HBS, a well known Communist leader in Punjab. He expired of a heart attack in Bathinda in 2009.

Ram Teri Ganga Maili: How to maintain ethics in a polluted environment?

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Is the holy Ganges getting more polluted every day? In addition to daily rituals, bathing, and religious activities performed on its banks, since ancient times, the new age industrial and population pressures are increasingly polluting the holy river. Over the decades a number of government schemes, rules and regulations to purify the Ganges have met with limited success.