March 30-31, 2022 -- Value systems and wars against fascism

publication date: Mar 30, 2022
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March 30-31, 2022 -- Value systems and wars against fascism

There is a war against fascism being waged on the streets and farmland of Ukraine by Ukrainian military personnel, civilian home guard forces, and foreign volunteers. In many respects, the Ukrainian defense against Russia is not much different from that of the Spanish Second Republic, aided by the International Brigades, against the fascist forces of General Francisco Franco and his Nazi German and Italian Fascisti allies.

I know a thing or two about the Spanish Civil War. My father served as a merchant marine volunteer for the International Brigades, assisting in the transfer of weapons from Leningrad and Klaipeda, Lithuania to the anti-fascist Spanish Loyalists still in control of the port of San Sebastian. [left] When the Loyalists discovered that my father was a licensed radio officer in the Danish Merchant Marine, they told him about the problem they had in sending and receiving radio messages across the Pyrenees Mountains. France was the source of weapons and other supplies for the Loyalists. My father was asked if he could help the Loyalists install a few radio relay radio stations atop the Pyrenees to provide communication links with France. He agreed to help the Loyalists and before he set out with them to climb the mountains, they handed him a rifle, telling him, "You'll be needing this." As is the case with many Ukrainian volunteers who joined their Territorial Defense units to fight the Russians, my father had never used a gun before.

Of course, the actions of my father and of his pro-Social Democratic Danish Seaman's Union had caught the attention of the Gestapo. So, when my father was tipped off around April 3, 1940 that Adolf Hitler's forces were planning to invade Denmark, he arranged to join the crew of a departing merchant vessel as the radio officer. The Gestapo, in culling the Danish census records, would have also discovered that my father's biological father was a Danish Jew born in then-St. Petersburg, Russia, having the last name of Selmer. Under the Nazi racial purity laws, the Nazis did not really distinguish between full Jews, half-Jews, or quarter-Jews -- all were marked for removal to the concentration camps.

On April 9, 1940, the Germans launched a full-scale invasion of Denmark and Norway. My grandmother, a well-known book author and journalist for the Danish Communist Party newspaper Land og Folk, not only stayed in Denmark but joined the
Borgerlige Partisaner, (Civil Partisans) resistance, helping to target German soldiers, sabotaging infrastructure, and ferrying Danish an
d other European Jews on fishing boats to neutral Sweden. [left]

When I see reports of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country, I'm reminded of the stories I grew up hearing as a child about World War II in Europe. My godmother also decided to stay in Norway and work for the Resistance. As a telephone operator in Trondheim, she listened in on the phone calls of German troops and passed important intelligence on to the Norwegian Underground. My godmother, as did my grandmother, helped send several German occupiers to their Nazi Valhalla. They also saw many of their colleagues arrested by the Gestapo. They were never seen again.

My Danish cousin, who served with my father in the wartime U.S. Merchant Marine, spent the war worried about his father and nine siblings back in Odense. His father, a Lutheran pastor, was also helping the Danish Resistance. Fortunately, the Johansen family in Odense survived the Nazi occupation intact.

World War II is not the only childhood experience that helped form and frame my support for the Ukrainians against the Russian invaders. My mother, who lived in New Jersey during the 1930s, was subjected to the threats and insults of the sons and daughters of German-American Bund members who permeated the Garden State. Nazi youth camps had been set up by the Bund throughout the state. They included Camp Nordland in Andover Township in Sussex County; [right]
Camp Wille und Macht in Griggstown, near Princeton; and Camp Bergwald in Bloomingdale. Across the Delaware River was the Bund-operated Camp Deutschhorst in Sellersville in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Bund also maintained a regional headquarters at its Turngemeinde Hall at Broad Street and Columbia Avenue in Philadelphia. The hall was later discovered to have been an intelligence front for the Gestapo. The Italian Black Shirt Legion operated Camp Dux in New Jersey. "Dux" was a reference to Il Duce, or "the chief," the moniker bestowed on Mussolini.

Other pro-Hitler organizations that flourished in South Jersey and the Delaware Valley included the Ku Klux Klan (of which Fred Trump, Sr. was a "be-robed" member (according to contemporary press reports) when he was arrested at a Klan protest on Memorial Day 1927 in Queens, New York), the Silver Shirt Legion, the Black Legion, the Italian Black Shirt Legion, the Christian Front, National Gentile League, Committee of 100, the Constitutional Defense Committee of the American Legion,  the Americaneers, the Women's National Association for the Preservation of the White Race, as well as the Philadelphia-based Khaki Shirts and Philadelphia Rifle Club. The city with the largest per capita Klan membership was not in the South. It was Altoona, Pennsylvania.

The Bund-run and other anti-Semitic facilities were not far from my mother's childhood home in Maple Shade, New Jersey. Merely because my mother had a Jewish-sounding name, she was taunted and harassed at public school by students who, most assuredly, had either attended the Nazi youth camps in the region or had parents who were Bund or other far-right organization members. The constant harassment by anti-Jewish students forced my mother to drop out of school after the eighth grade. It was dangerous growing up in South Jersey with the name of Ethel Simon. A German-American couple, known by my mother and who owned a bakery in Maple Shade, a town with a sizable German-American population, were arrested by the FBI after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was discovered that they had been operating a radio transmitter in their basement, which was sending troop train counts to German U-boats in the Atlantic. The bakery was located across the street from the rail line that transported newly-trained Army recruits from Fort Dix to awaiting troop ships at the port of Chester, Pennsylvania.

When I see reports of Russians forcing Ukrainians, including children and the elderly, into detention "camps" in Russia; Russians laying waste to entire cities; storming libraries to rid the shelves of books considered to be anti-Russian; torturing Ukrainian journalists, and other war crimes, it is my upbringing that shapes my views. And for that I don't apologize to anyone. They include so-called "progressives," who have taken the word of Vladimir Putin, a revanchist fascist in the mold of Hitler.

One cannot be pro-Putin and anti-Trump. Putin, the mastermind of the worldwide fascist putsch against democracy, began scoring successes in 2016. The first two were the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, largely the work of the Russia-funded fascist and racist Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party, and Trump's presidential election victory. There is very little doubt in my mind that a hush-hush dinner hosted by Tucker Carlson on the evening prior to the opening session of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, covered gavel-to-gavel by this editor, saw the attendance of Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. Kislyak had featured prominently in Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's 2016 Trump campaign-Russia collusion report.

As the leader of the worldwide fascist movement, Putin has sought to politicize the Covid pandemic, giving agitprop support to fascist-led convoys in Canada and the United States intended to disrupt the operations of the federal governments of both countries. Russian propaganda fingerprints are on the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and a similar attempt to attack the Brazilian Congress and Supreme Court in Brasilia by the fascist forces of President Jair Bolsonaro. The global fascist threat was bolstered by the hands-on involvement of Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, with the January 6th putschists in Washington. Putin has had his hands on the financing of far-right racist and fascist political parties in France, Italy, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Greece, Spain, and other democratic nations.

Just as the Bund and its allies in the American First Committee attempted to fulminate right-wing uprisings in the United States, including a 1934 coup attempt against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Republican far-right, on behalf of its masters in Moscow, not only attempted to re-install Donald Trump unconstitutionally, but also attempted similar putsches against Democratic governors in Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other states.

The Moscow-directed fascist threat continues to exist in America and around the world. On March 29, Evgeny Popov, the host of Russia's "60 Minutes" program, called for the re-installing of Trump as president. Popov said
, "It's time for us, our people, to call on the people of the United States to change the regime in the U.S. early, and to again help our partner, Trump, to become president," In other words, Putin and his regime continue to call for the overthrow of the duly-elected president of the United States. Moreover, Trump, reprising his call for Russia to release Hillary Clinton's emails during the 2016 campaign, recently called for Russia to release any information on Hunter Biden, the son of the president. This is the same type of joint Russian-Trump agitprop that led to wacko conspiracy theories about Covid and the vaccinations developed to protect against the virus; the integrity of the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections in the United States; public school curricula; library books; and pizzerias and child trafficking. Americans of sound mind owe Comrade Putin and his regime a heavy price for the disruption they have caused across the nation. It's time for Putin to pay up.

President Biden was correct in calling for the ouster of Putin and his regime by the Russian people. FDR quietly encouraged, through the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), attempts by the German military to oust Hitler. This coordination was covertly conducted in Switzerland. Today, the same old crowd of whimpering whiners on the so-called "left" would condemn such action as unfair and the work of "American imperialists." Hogwash. It is as legitimate a policy now as it was in 1943 and 1944. Foreign fascist fingerprints of Russian, Brazilian, and other origins were all over the January 6th coup attempt.

The Ukrainians who are battling the Russians and their mercenary forces, sometimes in door-to-door combat, deserve the full support of the United States. The Ukrainians, who like the Maquis in France, the Polish Home Army, and the Italian Resistenza, find themselves on the front lines against fascism, are involved in the same war that saw U.S. Capitol Police fighting off fascist terrorists on January 6. That war has been raging ever since Donald Trump, a longtime tool of the Soviet KGB and its Russian successor agencies, rode down the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015.

If you claim you are a progressive or liberal but have had your feelings hurt because I have made my stand against fascism, whether that practiced by the Russians in Ukraine or Belarus, or the Republican Party in Washington, Tallahassee, or Richmond, I have only one word: Tough.

-30-



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