Photo EssayFar-right marches in Europe echo Nazi past
When far-right protesters marched with tiki torches through Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, chanting — among other hateful messages — “Jews will not replace us,” many Americans were stunned and horrified. It seemed reminiscent of another era, another century.
But torchlight marches have hardly disappeared from the public square. Across Europe, far-right forces and white-supremacist movements are gathering for such rallies more frequently, often in broad daylight. And they often orient these gatherings around memorials to Nazi collaborators or anniversaries of World War II atrocities.
Over the past two years, I have been documenting the existence of such monuments and statues, counting about 1,500 of them across 29 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and several western European nations. Click to read stories from our investigation published in January 2022 and January 2021, and here to look at a country-by-country list of the memorials to Nazis and their collaborators.
If you know of sites not included in our list, please email [email protected].
For International Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, I’ve put together a series of photographs showing some recent far-right rallies and how they connect to their fascist forebears.
1 / 16 Spain
Every year, Spain’s capital, Madrid, hosts a neo-Nazi march to commemorate the Blue Division, volunteers who fought alongside the Third Reich against the Soviet Union. At the time, Spain was ostensibly neutral, but the country’s dictatorial ruler, Francisco Franco, permitted the recruitment of Spanish collaborators to fight for the Nazis.
The 2021 march — which involved participants laying flowers at a Blue Division memorial — erupted in antisemitism, when one of its leaders proclaimed: “The Jew is always the enemy.”
2 / 16 France
Although French President Emmanuel Macron recently won reelection, his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, received 41% of the vote, with a broader geographic base than in their prior matchup. In 2017, Le Pen made headlines when she claimed the French bear no responsibility for deporting 76,000 Jews to their deaths, mostly to Auschwitz. The deportation was carried out by the Vichy Nazi puppet government of Philippe Pétain.
Even Macron, a moderate, had at one point considered staging ceremonies celebrating this Nazi collaborator, though he changed his mind after an international backlash. This shows how France has embraced once-unthinkable levels of whitewashing Nazi lackeys.
3 / 16 United States
While there are no Pétain monuments in France, New York City’s “Canyon of Heroes” has plaques honoring Pétain as well as Vichy Prime Minister Pierre Laval.
City Hall initially promised to remove the plaques, but officials changed their minds. As of April 2022, the plaques remain, with no explanation that the men they honor were responsible for murdering 76,000 Jews.
4 / 16 Croatia
The Indigenous Croatian Party of Rights staged a march in Zagreb in 2017 in support of U.S. President Donald Trump. They carried symbols of the Ustasha, a Nazi-allied regime that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews, Roma and Serbs. The pro-Trump march echoed the fascist Ustasha parades held during World War II.
5 / 16
Croatia has been awash with Holocaust revisionism honoring the Ustasha. The country has streets named for war criminals and senior members of the Nazi collaborator government. Ustasha supporters hold annual commemoration ceremonies in nearby Austria in honor of slain World War II figures.
Ustasha flags and symbols are now a staple of far-right marches, even ones having nothing to do with the war. During the last World Cup, Croatia’s national soccer team was rocked by a scandal due to its ties to Ustasha fans.
6 / 16 Germany
Every year, German neo-Nazis gather for a commemoration of the 1945 firebombing of Dresden. And in 2018, hundreds flooded central Berlin in an event honoring top Third Reich figure Rudolf Hess.
7 / 16
Alfried Krupp was convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg. His company had a factory in Auschwitz and used around 100,000 slave laborers, including children.
After the war, he was among a number of wealthy Nazi Party members and war profiteers who established charitable corporations in Germany. For example, in 2001, Jacobs University Bremen received 10 million deutschmarks from the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation. The next year, the university opened what is now called the Alfried Krupp College.
8 / 16 Czech Republic
In 2011, a Czech group whose logo contains far-right symbols rebuilt a giant Iron Cross monument overlooking the Jizera mountains in Kořenov. The cross was originally erected to honor fallen Nazis in 1944; the governor of the Third Reich protectorate attended the opening ceremony.
In 1945, after liberation, Czechs tore down the monument. Today, it stands once again and has been used as a site of rituals by far-right groups.
See more of the Czech Republic’s Nazi-collaborator monuments.
9 / 16 Lithuania
“We Know Our Heroes” proclaimed a banner featuring Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators at a 2016 march in Kaunas, Lithuania. These individuals have been glorified all over Lithuania and beyond; one even has a memorial in the U.S.
Lithuania’s state-sponsored Holocaust revisionism extends into harassing and silencing scholars – in 2017, a prominent Lithuanian writer had her career destroyed for daring to speak about Lithuanian collaborators.
10 / 16
Another banner from a 2017 march in Kaunas shows Nazi collaborator Kazys Škirpa as the popular far-right meme Pepe the Frog, connecting an ally of Adolf Hitler to today’s ultranationalist culture. Skirpa’s organization, the Lithuanian Activist Front, was partly responsible for the extermination of about 95% of Lithuania’s Jews during the Holocaust.
11 / 16 Italy
The cult around fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has been growing in Italy. The country has seen a rise in far-right tourism centered on Mussolini-themed locales. Rome itself still bears numerous monuments to the dictator; streets honoring other fascists are also prevalent across the land.
12 / 16 Ukraine
Every New Year’s Day, supporters of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera gather for a torchlight march in Kyiv. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited Ukraine’s glorification of Bandera and other collaborators as a pretext for the current war.
Monuments to Bandera monuments can also be found in the United States, including a bust in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
13 / 16
Some Ukrainians also honor the SS Galichina, a division of the military arm of the Nazi Party. SS Galichina’s lion-and-crowns insignia can be seen both at a recruiting march for the unit’s formation as well as modern commemorations of the division’s founding.
14 / 16 Hungary
Hungary has been at the forefront of Holocaust revisionism, whitewashing its legacy as a Nazi collaborator state responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. That has only increased under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist with a history of antisemitism.
There are now elaborate marches and ceremonies glorifying World War II despot Miklós Horthy, a Hitler ally. In 2020, the ultranationalist “Our Homeland Movement” party commemorated the 100th anniversary of Horthy riding into Budapest to seize power.
Also in Budapest, neo-Nazis from across Europe gather every Feb. 11 to commemorate a last stand of Axis forces, including the Arrow Cross Hungarian fascists who had massacred the city’s Jews. Hungary’s new Arrow Cross fascist party was founded on February 11.
15 / 16 Slovakia
In 2020, the neo-Nazi party of Marian Kotleba gained seats in the Slovakian parliament. Kotleba’s party venerates World War II leader Jozef Tiso, a Hitler puppet responsible for deporting Jews to their deaths; after the war, Tiso was hanged for crimes against humanity.
16 / 16 Latvia
A celebratory aura couching a dark past descends on Riga every year during the commemoration of Latvian Legion veterans — SS fighters, many of whom participated in the Holocaust.