Nazism is condemned worldwide, but there are still pockets of support in some areas of Europe. Over the weekend, Estonian veterans of the Nazi SS rallied on the anniversary of a battle with the Red Army.
The Estonian town of Sinimae was the scene of a fierce World War II battle between Soviet soldiers and SS forces in 1944. And less than a mile up the road from the monument that commemorates the Soviet soldiers who died there, a gathering of veterans of the Estonian Waffen SS is taking place – an event that has attracted widespread criticism for glorifying Nazism.
“I was the leader of the Association of the Former Soldiers of the Waffen SS. I was voluntary. It’s something that you don’t think about at the time; later you think about the fact you shot people. But that’s the war. That’s the war,” Anton Powelli, a former SS fighter, told RT.
In Anton’s home country – and most of Europe – celebrations of this kind are banned.
“We cannot do in Belgium what we can do here,” Anton added.
But in Estonia it is a different story altogether.
“It’s common in Estonia to call these people freedom fighters. We hold our protest rallies on the same day they hold this event to remind them what they are – that they had given allegiance to Hitler, to tell them they had never liberated Estonia, moreover, many of them were engaged in – and all of them are more or less accomplices of – the crimes committed by Nazi Germany,” said Maxim Reva from “World Without Nazis”.
In recent years, the Estonian authorities have made it increasingly difficult for anyone to come to Sinimai to protest against the Nazi gathering. This year, once again, members of the anti-fascist movement were detained at the border, and pulled over by the police.
“I was stopped and I was told that I have an entry prohibition to the country. But of course they don’t want any other opinion other than their own opinion, which is very much supporting the SS veterans,” said Johan Beckman, a Finnish anti-fascist activist.
The revival of the far-right across Europe has caused growing concern. Ultra-right parties are gaining ground in countries like Austria, Finland and France. The savage slaughter by far-right extremist Anders Breivik in Norway has driven home just how dangerous these views remain.