|How to act||
Buchenwald, Caen, France, Germany, New York, USA
Those who supported Bosnia and Herzegovina and criticized their own governments often drew historical parallels between the war in BiH and past events such as the Spanish Civil War and especially World War II. These historical references provided orientation and meaning; they defined the current war as the return of fascism, and the fight against it as antifascist resistance, recalling past struggles of the 1930s and 1940s.
Such references were also mobilisation tools. The contradiction between the discourse of “Never Again” – a standard maxim in European discourses after World War II and the Holocaust – and the absence of willingness to intervene in order to stop the current atrocities was often highlighted. The international community’s attitude towards BiH and the war was regularly compared to the non-intervention politics of the Western governments during the Spanish Civil War, the abandonment of Czechoslovakia at the 1938 Munich Conference, and the indifference shown in regard to the destruction of European Jews. Different soldiarity groups organized activities on dates or at places which were related to World War Two and the Holocaust, for example the demonstration in Caen on 4th June 1994 and the occupation of the Buchenwald Memorial in 1995.
There were discussions about whether comparisons to World War II and especially the Holocaust were justified, both inside and out of the solidarity mobilisations. But many people, Jewish public figures and survivors of the Holocaust among them, insisted it was essential to take “Never Again” seriously and to take action in order to stop the war and the atrocities. In an open letter to President Bill Clinton, published in the New York Times on April 20, 1993, Henry Siegman, President of the American Jewish Congress, for example wrote:
“If remembering the victims of the Holocaust does not move us to respond to the suffering in Bosnia, what conceivable purpose does remembering serve?”