Aktion Analyse - Research 'n Action
The following article/ interview gives a good overview of the campaign.
The original source is http://d-a-s-h.org
(with lot's of thanks for the translators)
After the "revolt of the respectable"
Youth groups from Brandenburg have met to take stock of the current
situation after ten years of racist violence and one year of "civil
The fates of Amadeu Antonio, No‘l Martin, and Omar Ben Noui have given a
special ring to the names of towns such as Eberswalde, Mahlow and Guben,
both in Germany and beyond. Amadeo Antonio was beaten to death in a pub in
1990; No‘l Martin is now a paraplegic as a result of two teenagers having
thrown a stone through the windshield of his car; Omar Ben Noui died in
1999 as a result of injuries he sustained jumping through a glass door in
the attempt to escape a group of young pursuers. Eberswalde, Mahlow, Guben:
hunting grounds in the German federal state of Brandenburg.
It can't be said to be unusual when a Vietnamese and Gambian man are
insulted and beaten up in a pedestrian zone in broad daylight. It is
however noteworthy, if not unusual, that the local press and local
politicians take no notice of incidents such as these in which nobody dies.
In Bernau, these incidents, which took place in the summer of 1998, are
normal. It is due to their normality, and not in spite of it, that they
inspired "Action Noteingang" (Emergency Entrance Campaign), a big campaign
in which young people from Bernau declared their opposition to a panorama
of raw violence and bourgeois normality. The atmosphere in the city was
supposed to be changed, and stores, pubs and cultural institutions were to
contribute to the effort with a simple statement: "We offer protection and
information in case of racist or fascist attack." The fact that the stores,
etc. did not display the yellow stickers with "Aktion Noteingang" of their
accord, but had to be convinced, and that the work of convincing them
wasn't easy, shows what the heart of the problem is: drunken skinheads are
giving more violent and extreme expression to what their parents, teachers,
and politicians also think is right.
The campaign expanded to over 11 communities and succeeded in starting a
discussion whose message made its way from train station parking lots to
Potsdam and Berlin: something has to happen in Brandenburg. After a decade
in which every year hundreds of people were beaten up and some even killed
and in which attacks on the concentration camp memorial, Oranienburg, were
no longer counted, the time had finally come in the summer of 2000 for what
was called "civil courage", i.e. the courage to stand up for one's beliefs.
Although the term itself was unpolitical and not exactly fierce, it at
least clearly admitted that the problem couldn't be blamed on drunken
individuals living on the margins of society. Racism is at the heart of
society. The federal and state government, political parties, unions, and
the media created foundations and established associations, which in the
beginning organized what seemed to be quite contradictory activities. A
Police Task Force called MEGA was created and money was provided to promote
Neonazi reintegration programs and to support antiracist organizations.
Politicians called for a "revolt of the respectable", i.e. for decent
citizens to show proper outrage at racist conditions in Germany society.
A little over a year later, no-one is talking about outrage or decency
anymore, and the time has come to take stock. What has become of the
ambitious plans to develop a "concept of action for a tolerant
Brandenburg"? What has the "Aktion Zivilcourage" accomplished? And what, if
you please, is the Potsdam government doing in all these committees, which
are not only supposed to co-ordinate their own activities but also the
struggle against the extreme Right? To recapitulate, to what extent does
big politics make itself felt in small-town youth centers and refugee
The same youth groups who organized "Aktion Noteingang" started up "Aktion
Analyse" (Analysis Action) in September 2001 to find out the answers to
exactly these questions. They have called on young people and activist
groups to make independent inquiries in their communities and find out what
has really changed. Their goal is an extensive documentation of racism and
resistance, based on concrete, local experiences. The results will be
presented "as creatively and interestingly as possible" in June 2002 in the
form of a competition sponsored by the "Demokratisches Jugendforum
Brandenburg e. V." (Democratic Youth Forum in Brandenburg). The youth
groups can count on the support of the Berlin video group, "Umbruch", and
the internet project, D-A-S-H, who were convinced by the organizers to take
part in the project.
As the project will also direct its attention towards the policies of
institutions, it should be quite interesting. In December 2000 "Aktion
Noteingang", together with many other antiracist groups in Brandenburg and
the Brandenburg Refugee Committee, caused some confusion when they
announced that it was more important to "abolish racist laws" than increase
the number of policemen and spend more money for the re-integration of
Nazis into society. As long as the state turned refugees into "second-class
human beings", said the initiative, the activists were not prepared to
"give this country the appearance of 'democracy and tolerance'." Strong
stuff for the state government in Potsdam, who in turn refused to fund the
initiative. Instead, the commitment of "Aktion Noteingang" was honored by
the "Aachener Friedenspreis". "Aktion Noteingang", in turn, donated the
prize-money they received to the "Flüchtlingsinitiative Rathenow", which is
committed to abolishing restrictions of movement placed on asylum seekers.
An issue that is as controversial as it is current: after the attacks in
the United States, the vacation permits were no longer issued -- the heart
of society at work again.
With its initiative "Aktion Analyse", the "Demokratisches
Jugendforum Brandenburg e.V." wants to strengthen young people's commitment
to abolishing racism. Susanne Lang, a member of the Forum, accuses the
government in Potsdam of creating new enemies by passing new police-laws
and introducing computer searches rather than fighting the extreme Right.
What is the goal of the "Aktion Analyse"?
The summer of 2000 brought with it new discussions, new
alliances, new anti-racist programs, and new laws. But has anything really
changed? Three years after starting our "Aktion Noteingang" and one year
after the summer of "civil courage", we want to get a new public discussion
going. Of course that also means trying to convince interested teenagers to
become politically active. We want to bring together and make public
different options for action, and offer concrete suggestions for actively
fighting racism and Neonazis.
What has happened in the towns of Brandenburg since the federal government,
public institutions and private sponsors have provided funds for
initiatives against the extreme Right?
There's no short answer to this question and that's why we
need "Aktion Analyse". What can be said about the funds in general is that
initiatives are not created by money, but by committed people who see the
opportunity to act. Financial support will probably help them to act more
easily. As always, the problem is that a large part of the money is not
accessible because the application process is too complicated and takes too
much time. And aside from that, the money often is reserved for groups
given the official status of charitable organizations. That automatically
excludes antifascist groups as well as youth initiatives.
What is the state government in Potsdam doing against racism and fascism in
There's a so-called "Aktionsbündnis gegen Rechtsextremismus
und Gewalt" (Active Association Against Violence and Right-Wing Extremism),
which is independent of the government although the people in the
Association's offices are members of government ministries. We haven't
heard anything about their activities for a while, and they also haven't
decided on our application for membership, which they received in July
2000. Instead, we now have a new police-law. Brandenburg is still the only
state in Germany where the "Zentrale Anlaufstelle für Asylbewerber"
(Central Shelter for Asylum Seekers) has no advisory office, with the
result that the numbers of accepted asylum seekers are much lower than in
the rest of Germany. In addition, the government hasn't made any movement
on the issue of residency restrictions on refugees and living conditions in
refugee homes. To be honest, I have no idea what the state government is
doing against racism and fascism.
What are the demands of the "Demokratische Jugendforum"?
To put it briefly, equal rights for everyone. Structural
discrimination against individuals confirms and promotes racist prejudices.
We're against refugees receiving vouchers instead of money; we are against
isolating people and packing them into far-off "homes"; and we are against
the politics of ghettoization. The "Bundesgrenzschutz" (federal border
police) is hunting people on the German-Polish border, following through on
the racist demand, "Ausländer raus" (out with foreigners).
The "Demokratische Jugendforum" donated the prize-money it received from
the "Aachener Friedenspreis" to a refugee initiative which is acting
against the so-called "Landkreis-Residenzpflicht" (residency restrictions).
Since the summer of 2000, a lot of people have been saying
that activities against racism have to be supported. That's good, and we
believe that people who are victims of racist legislation, and defend
themselves against it, need and deserve our support the most.
Since the attacks in the USA, not much has been heard about the struggle
against right-wing extremism. Does the new trend towards more police checks
and a tighter immigration policy affect the work of antifascist and
antiracist groups in Brandenburg?
We'll have to wait and see, but of course there are fears of
that. The 11th of September is obviously being used by officials in the
Ministry of the Interior, who until then had to contend with civil rights
activists, to live out fantasies of law and order. The first signs of this
are the computer searches which have also been done in Brandenburg, and
above all the scandalous fact that vacation vouchers haven't been handed
out in many refugee homes since September 11th.
How can youth groups participate in the "Aktion Analyse"?
There's nothing easier - they can take a look at our flyers
and the material on the competition and then just join us! Each group can
decide on their own what racism and fascism mean in their lives and what
can be done against it. This should then be documented and entered into the
Susanne Lang is working on the multimedia documentation of "Aktion
Analyse". The "Demokratische Jugendforum e.V." is a social and political
forum for young people which sunderstand itself to be a "network of
self-determined youth groups for political action and critical culture in
Brandenburg" and currently comprises 15 initiatives.