Yannis Kouzis
Professor Yannis Kouzis is the Dean of the School of Political Science of Panteion University and Doctor in Social Law at the University of Paris-Nanterre. He is Professor of Labour Relations in the Department of Social Policy. He has been President of the Scientific Association of Social Policy in Greece, and Research Director at the Working Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Trade Unions. He is the author of books on employment policies, new trends in the field of labour relations in Greece and Europe, trade unionism, worker participation, social policy and social dialogue.
The constant scope of the defeat of Nazism
The 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism and the end of the Second World War in parallel with the re-emergence of the fascist phenomenon provide an opportunity for a broad discussion. It is necessary that historical memory be restored and the causes of the emergence and development of fascism and Nazism and their consequences for humanity be clarified.

The defeat of Nazism means the defeat of an extremist ideology based on the devaluation of human existence and the practice of discrimination in political, economic and social life by means of extreme repression of the most fundamental human rights. The Treaty of Versailles imposed its humiliating conditions for the German people which fueled nationalism at a time of heightened tensions due to social deconstruction and the catastrophic repercussions of the First World War.

The image of Nazism was initially repulsive in the eyes of the dominant classes in Germany.
But later they adopted Nazism as an instrument of repression of social struggles and as a lever, later on, to satisfy economic ambitions with military enforcement
The end of the Second World War, with 50 million dead and the victory of the Allies against the Axis, was the result of the anti-fascist struggle and the decisive role of the Soviet Union with 27 million lives lost in this battle. The USSR did not only drive back the enemy; it was the Red Army that liberated Central and Eastern Europe, reaching Hitler’s capital Berlin.

Without intending to underestimate the role of the other Allied forces, historical facts have given the Soviet Union and its people a prominent place among the fighters against Nazism, since the Allied landings in Normandy followed the Red Army’s march to Berlin. Therefore, the attempt to underestimate the role of the USSR in the Second World War and, moreover, to equate the Soviet regime with that of Nazism, constitutes a falsification of history. This is an attempt to equate an ideology based on universal human values, even though it had its problems, to and ideology that is the apotheosis of the strong man rule and extermination of the weak and the different. Moreover, promoting the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact as proof of the argument and the trigger of the Second World War, involves a deliberate "ignorance" of the Munich Pact, signed a year before by Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France, which indeed paved the way for the occupation of neighboring countries by the Nazis.
This falsification of history has a two-fold objective: 1) to devalue the aspirations of the Russian revolution of 1917, and 2) to justify the aggressiveness of NATO forces towards Russia, in order to reduce its role on the international scene in the race for control of sources of wealth
This policy is above all a threat to world peace. It is characterized by the recognition and support of fascist and neo-Nazi governments on the one hand and, on the other, of anti-democratic regimes which nevertheless declare their commitment to democratic principles and the freedom of people. However, they resurrect the Cold War context when some Western governments were quite tolerant of remnants of fascism and Nazism which were used for the overriding objective of fighting socialist countries.

Among the victims of Nazism, the Greek people occupy a prominent place for their special contribution in the fight against fascism and Nazism. First of all, the victory against the Italian troops that invaded the country during the period between October 1940 and winter 1941 was the first victory against the Axis on European soil. The invasion of German troops backed by those of Bulgaria and Italy was marked by the "Battle of Crete" which set back the German timetable in their planned attack on the Soviet Union.
The German occupation gave rise to the great national resistance movement, the most effective movement after that of the Yugoslav partisans
It was also in Greece that the first strike in occupied Europe took place in July 1943 against the compulsory recruitment of Greek citizens for forced labor in factories in Germany — a successful strike despite bloody repression. The resistance of the Greek people against the occupying forces resulted in mass massacres of Greeks and the retaliatory destruction of entire towns and villages by the occupier.

By the end of the war the country of 7 million inhabitants had lost 12% of its population — 36,000 during the military operations, 170,000 civilians and 600,000 due to famine and suffering.

To the collapse of the economy must be added the looting of archaeological treasures and movable goods, and the forced loan of 228 million dollars for the benefit of the Nazis which the Greek state granted and which has never been repaid. This is in addition to the compensation for war reparations that is still pending. The present value of Germany’s debt to Greece is estimated at hundreds of billions of euros and exceeds the country’s current debt to creditors.
Today the phenomenon of fascism and neo-Nazism is dangerously returning to the forefront, reminiscent of the inter-war period when Europe in 1939 had 17 fascist governments
Despite the fact that it has not taken on the same dimensions as it did then, the spread of the ideology of the extreme right undermines modern societies. The deregulation of the welfare state and labor relations, the economic crisis and the policies of its management are common features of both historical periods and create conditions for widespread impoverishment. To this must be added growing xenophobia and racism as a result of the displacement of entire populations fleeing war or authoritarian regimes supported by countries of the "developed" world in order to defend their economic and geopolitical interests. And all this in a context of the economic strangulation that the peoples of the third world are suffering as a result of over-exploitation of official or unofficial neo-colonialist nature.

These conditions are conducive to the blossoming of crude positions on the causes of the crisis and the impoverishment of a growing part of the European peoples and of social exclusion. Within this framework we have a persistently high rate of unemployment and its decline at times is combined with low wages, so that 20% of European workers belong to the category of the new poor.

At the same time, the dismantling of the social protection system is making a large proportion of pensioners destitute, making increasingly difficult access to health services. This general situation is rarely discussed. And every time it is mentioned, it is only a fragmentary evocation of collateral failures of an impasse. At the same time, the neo-liberal model of globalization is dissimulated, which increases inequalities to such an extent that 50% of the wealth produced worldwide is held by 1% of the world’s population. This situation provokes the deconstruction of societies and feeds the extreme right, which blames immigration for the crisis while keeping silent on the responsibility of economic competition and its processes.

Although the fascist and Nazi ideologies were torn to pieces at the end of the war, they gradually reappeared after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which, regardless of the dysfunctions, represented a symbol for workers' rights around the world. This inspiration was interrupted with the fall of the Soviet Union and the consequent strengthening of capitalism as a universal economic system.

The return to fascist and Nazi ideas is finding fertile ground among young people, as resources for preserving historical memory are dwindling. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with the downplaying of the role of the science of history and other human and social sciences in current curricula in favor of studies oriented towards financial profitability.
The loss of historical memory fills with confidence admirers of fascism and Nazism who invest in the social strata hard hit by the crisis, so much so that countries that experienced the horrors of Nazism send representatives of Nazi parties to their parliaments
This is the case of Greece, where the score of the Nazi party "Golden Dawn" has risen during the crisis period from 1% to 7% and all the members of its leadership team are admirers of Hitler, according to their public speeches.

In order to face fascism and its variants one should not be satisfied with wishful thinking and remain indifferent to the economic and political causes that give rise to it.

As a first step it is imperative to regulate international economic competition by social and ecological clauses. It would enforce the minimum rights recognized or to be recognized by international bodies in order to counteract the over-exploitation of the Third World.

This choice must be accompanied by the strengthening of the United Nations actions for world peace and for an end to regional wars, which are a source of mass emigration and also fuel for the extreme right rhetoric.

Slowing down the arms race in favor of increasing social spending and curbing social dumping are means to be used against social deconstruction in developed countries where the extreme right is on the rise.

Otherwise, the perpetuation of the causes that allow the extreme right to restructure itself makes all the speeches against fascism rather hypocritical.
On the use of information

All materials on this website are available under license from Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International and may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.

Demonstration of Nazi and fascist paraphernalia or symbols on this resource is related only to the description of the historical context of the events of the 1930−1940s, is not its propaganda and does not justify the crimes of fascist Germany.