January 29, 2019
Jewish Antifascist Action
NEW YORK, NY – In the early hours of the morning on Monday, January 28, a group of Jewish antifascists from across the region took direct action to deface and defame the last known monument to Phillipe Pétain, the Nazi collaborator who was personally responsible for the deportation of French Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz, Maidanek, Sobibor, and internment camps under the direct authority of the Vichy regime. Of 75,721 deportees, fewer than 2,000 survived.
On Monday morning, red paint was found splattered across Pétain’s commemorative plaque along the “Canyon of Heroes” in Lower Manhattan, at the intersection of Broadway and Morris, while the surrounding area was found covered with antifascist graffiti. This graffiti is still visible as this goes to press.
These actions were undertaken autonomously, in solidarity with the Outlive Them Network’s call to action International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in memory of the millions of dead and disappeared at the hands of fascists like Pétain. Outlive Them is an international network that seeks to “strike fascism at the root: the governments that sanction it, the institutions that bless it, and the businesses that profit from it.”
Jews who know their history hold the US government responsible for the refugee and immigration policies which condemned their ancestors to die in the ghettos and camps of Europe and North Africa, just as the Trump regime, today, continues to condemn refugees and genocide survivors to their deaths: whether by way of mass deportations, militarized borders, travel bans, or the denial of the right to asylum.
Seventy years after Pétain’s deportation force tore children as young as two from their parents — many were never heard from again, including 2,000 under the age of 6 and 6,000 under the age of 13 — our own government continues this policy of family separation at the southern border. And seventy years after Pétain oversaw the mass murder of Jews and other refugees, our own government continues to incite anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic violence from Charlottesville, VA to Pittsburgh, PA.
Despite pledging otherwise, neither Mayor DeBlasio nor Governor Cuomo have addressed monuments to Nazi collaborators like Pétain, which are given pride of place on some of the busiest blocks in the City of New York. With Monday’s actions, Jewish antifascists and allied forces have served notice that fascist apologism will not be tolerated in our city in 2019; that anti-Semitic ideology and violencewill be confronted with Jewish solidarity and strength; and that the Holocaust will be remembered not only with sadness and grief but also with righteous anger and action: “We will never forget. We will never forgive.”