2016Frank Brendle and the “German anti-fascists”
Who Are the VVN-Bda?Members, Motivations, Alliances
The Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes-Bund der Antifaschistinnen und Antifaschisten (VVN-BdA) was established in 1947, long before Putin's cynical hijacking of the anti-Nazism cause with World Without Nazism. That brings up the question as to why its members would be "arrested" upon their entry to Latvia. That VVN-Bda originated as a Communist organization, or are accused of being leftist extremists attempting to turn democracy against itself would not appear, on its own, to justify detention at the border. Another article by Frank Brendle offers additional insight:
Latvia Arrests Peaceful German Visitors Who Wanted to Protest Annual Waffen SS March15 March 2016, Frank Brendle
This morning, 2Cornelia Kerth, chairwoman of Germany’s most important antifascist organization, the Association of Persons Persecuted by the Nazis / Federation of Antifascists (in German VVN-BdA) entered Hamburg airport to board her flight with Air Baltic to Riga. Check-in was without problem, but at the final steps before boarding the aircraft, authorities informed her that she may not enter the plane: “You are on a black list of the Latvian immigration authorities,” they said.
3Five other members of the organization, who took a Ryanair flight from Berlin thought they were lucky to be allowed into Riga – but they were arrested immediately after border control at Riga airport. They were informed that they fall under §61 of Latvian immigration law, to wit, that the “persona non grata” rule which can be applied when a “foreigner causes a threat to national security or public order and safety.” The policemen honestly and straightforwardly explicated that their authorities don’t want these Germans to participate at the rally against the Waffen SS march.
5What the five Germans do have in common is that they accepted the invitation of Josef Koren’s local organization Latvia Without Nazism. And they already had participated at Koren’s (annual) protest two years ago – peacefully, without any stress or difficulty of any kind with the police. That time, they entered Latvia by bus. On that route, the bus was stopped several times by the police, the people and their belongings checked with some pretexts. And now, all are on the persona-non-grata list. Of course, they were never been informed about this beforehand.
The authorities at the airport forced the Germans to decide whether to return the same day or to be imprisoned in a detention center for illegal immigrants and to wait there for their expulsion. All five decided not to leave “voluntarily.” After some hours, they were put in a police bus and brought to the Latvian border and forced in a bus back to Berlin.
“For years now the march of the Waffen SS fans is protected by the Latvian government. Those few antifascists who protest against the extreme right wing march, are treated by politicians and media like enemies of the state,” the politicians, from Germany Left Party said in a press release. 6“The Latvian authorities are not doing themselves any favor. Latvia proves to be courting Nazis,” said Ulla Jelpke, member of the German Bundestag, and Sabine Loesing, a member of the European Parliament, in a joint statement.
For them, the case is a severe violation of freedom of speech and assembly. Thomas Willms, the chair of VVN-BdA, made this 7comment by cellphone from his detention: “It is just plain unbelievable that such a thing can happen in the European Union.”
8For Joseph Koren it is hard: Latvian antifascists are very weak and need international support. “They are trying everything they can to hinder our protest”, he said. He continued, in his inimitable style:
VVN-BdA poster advertising 2014 event featuring Josef Koren and Aleksej Sharipov [both Kremlin-supported Russian "activists" in Latvia], moderated by Dr. Regina Girod, "national spokesperson" of the VVN-BdA
We have seen World Without Nazism taken at face value by many, even garnering a letter of praise from Hillary Clinton for its work as part of its 2010 convention. The question is whether or not the VVN-Bda are truly allied with WWN or are more in the class of "useful idiots" for having accepted Josef Koren's invitation—including as past attendees. A bit of searching turns up another article by Frank Brendle, this time on the VVN-BDa Antifa online magazine web site, where he denounces "der Legion die Mordmaschinerie in Auschwitz" (the Legion the machinery of murder in Auschwitz). LINK
And in a side box on that page we find a denunciation of the "official equating" of Communism and Nazism, referring to a draft decision featured at www.worldwithoutnazism.org and www.bildungswerk-friedensarbeit.org. Digging further turned up the poster above, a VVN-BDa-organized event in Berlin with the Kremlin's "anti-fascists" as speakers. It is clear the VVN-BDa are fully invested in the Kremlin's depiction and denunciation of the Latvian Legion.
Kerth is featured prominently by the Kremlin's propaganda channels, viz. "MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Waffen-SS veterans' marches, similar to the one held in the Latvian capital of Riga on Monday, should be prohibited, Cornelia Kerth, a member of the Left Party in Hamburg, Germany, told Sputnik. "Marches of Waffen-SS veterans in Germany are prohibited and we think that they should certainly be forbidden in the countries that have suffered from Nazism," Kerth said. She said that the party was outraged by annual Nazi veterans' marches in Riga and spoke against the Riga rally in 2014...." at Nazi Veteran Marches Should Be Prohibited – Germany’s Left Party. The German Left Party, Die LINKE, is pro-Russian and advocates for closer ties with Russia.
Those would be Thomas Willms, Markus Tervooren, Günther Hoppe, Lothar Eberhard, and Werner Müllerrest. These other members of the VVN-Bda maintain a somewhat lower profile. Internet searches mainly deal with their detention covered in the recent reports as those featured here. Tervooren has been active blocking "neo-Nazi" demonstrations in Dresden. LINK
The invitation by World Without Nazism in operating Latvia only confirms the German leftists are either in collusion with the Kremlin or simply its dupes.
True. Yet, foreigners arriving (again) at the invitation of a Kremlin-supported organization devoted to destabilizing Latvian civil society would not be seen as acting for the benefit of Latvia. The permit is for domestic expression of free speech by Latvia's residents, not for foreign fomentation.
The Germans were given the option to "return or be detained." The Germans chose the latter. Barring entry was not unreasonable given that current and past organizations linked with the individuals involved have been deemed by German authorities to be "hostile to the constitutional order." If individuals are associated with "constitutional threats" in a country the size of Germany, should Latvian authorities not exercise appropriate caution?
Marxist Ulla Jelpke and Sabine Lösing are other members of Germany's far left Die LINKE party. Peeling away implications these individuals play on different teams indicating wider condemnation, it's clear the VVN-Bda
- is dominated by the German far left Die LINKE party, which, in turn,
- advocates for closer ties with the Kremlin, making it unsurprising that
- they are a mouthpiece for the Kremlin position regarding Latvia's alleged neo-Nazism.
Outrage, if genuine, equals Kremlin dupes. Outrage, if feigned, equals Kremlin propagandists. Either way, when the VVN-Bda chose to be detained rather than simply return to Germany, confirmed their intent to stage an incident. That Latvian authorities did not impound their mobile devices was icing on the cake.
Brendle gives an overly sympathetic ear to Koren's complaints that the Latvian state does not particularly care for his [Kremlin-backed] NGO [operating on Latvian territory spreading anti-Latvian Kremlin propaganda] and that international support is lacking. Along those lines, we were gratified to recently read an account indicating that Efraim Zuroff appears to have cut ties with Koren & Company.
Updated: May, 2017