May 8, 1945/ 2021 – Liberation Day from Fascism

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May 8, 1945: Liberation Day


In consideration of the Shabbat customs of the Jewish citizens, the traditional commemorative walk for today’s Liberation Day already took place yesterday. More than 100 participants accepted the invitation of the Bochum ” Bündnis gegen Rechts” and the Kinder- und Jugendring to visit the cemetery at Freigrafendamm. Uli Borchers, spokesman of the “Bündnis gegen Rechts” (Alliance against the Right), emphasized in his welcoming speech that May 8, 1945 was indeed a day of liberation for the inmates of the concentration camps, for prisoners of war and forced laborers. A day of liberation also for those who had to live in illegality: hidden and “submerged” Jews, women and men from the political resistance, or those who were exposed to persecution by the Nazi dictatorship for other reasons.

Uli Borchers

May 8 was also a day of liberation for all those people in Europe who had to suffer from the crimes of the Wehrmacht and the SS during World War 2. Millions, however, did not live to see this day. They were gassed in the extermination camps, murdered by Einsatzgruppen, died under the conditions of forced labor or were killed by SA, SS and Gestapo.

Uli Borchers: “Remembering these women and men is the recurring reason for our tour on this day. Today we do anti-racist work in many forms. The current example is the campaign “Bundestag – Nazifrei”, which is launched today.

First stop of the tour was the grave field of Soviet prisoners of war. Felix Lipski, Holocaust survivor and spokesman of the Klub STERN of the Jewish Community Bochum left it to his granddaughter Magarita Gosmann to read his speech. He recalled the deaths of millions of prisoners and reported on the hitherto little-known resistance activities in forced labor in industrial factories. He described uprisings and escape attempts from the camps. The speech in the wording.

At the grave site of the forced laborers, Angelina Lachenicht and Julia-Maria Kirstein from the “Coal Miners’ History Workshop” from Gerthe reported on the results of their research. They have collected a lot of biographical information about forced laborers from death certificates. They criticized that the condition of the graves in the cemetery has been appalling and unkempt for years and that the city does not fulfill its legal obligations. The speech in the wording (in German).

At the Ehrenrundplatz, Reinhard Junge, representing the VVN-BdA (“Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Nationalsozialismus”), reminded the audience that June 21 is the 80th anniversary of the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. He criticized that the German government refuses to commemorate in any form appropriate on this day, under which sacrifices the Soviet Union was decisively involved in freeing Germany and Europe from fascism. The speech in the wording.

Irmtrud Wojak

Historian Irmtrud Wojak, who initiated the Fritz Bauer Forum, which is currently being built in the former mourning hall on the east side of the cemetery, paid tribute to Fritz Bauer’s role in the legal reappraisal of Nazi crimes. She explicitly emphasized that although the military defeat of the Nazi regime was sealed with May 8, the consistent coming to terms with Nazi crimes should have begun thereafter. Instead, it is predominantly assessed as a “success” to have “smoothly” integrated thousands of Nazi perpetrators in the judiciary, police, military and administration. The speech in the wording.

At the end of the event, Bochum DGB chair Bettina Gantenberg presented the goals of the campaign “Bundestag nazifrei – Keine Stimme für AFD und andere Rassisten” (Bundestag free of Nazis – No vote for AFD and other racists), which is a continuation of the successful campaign for the local elections. In the election for the Bochum council last year, the AfD had received only slightly more than a third of the votes it had achieved in the Bundestag election. The campaign is intended to send an unmistakable signal against right-wing extremism, racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and discrimination of all kinds and to motivate as many as possible to become active themselves. The speech in the wording.

The Youth Ring (Jugendring) and the “Alliance Against the Right” made the traditional commemoration of Liberation Day lively and interesting. With the simultaneous launch of the campaign “Bundestag nazifrei” in cooperation with the trade unions, it was possible to combine retrospection and outlook.

Source:, May 8, 2021

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