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Editor’s Note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on November 18th.

In Spain, the far-right were also-rans, effectively discredited and shunned in mainstream circles and government affairs since the end of the Francoist period in the mid-1970s. Those days are long gone.

Vox, which promotes itself as the “patriotic alternative,” burst onto the national scene late last year in the elections in the southern region of Andalucía, sending shockwaves through Spanish politics. In the wake of this political upheaval came the general election in April, where the ultranationalist party received just over 10% of votes and won 24 seats in the 350-seat Parliament. That election resulted in no clear majority and plunged the country into another round of voting. In the Nov. 10 election, Vox more than doubled its previous results. Now 52 seats strong, Vox has become the third-largest political force in the country.

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Editor’s note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on October 31st.

The Armenian genocide is an indisputable historical fact. The evidence that Ottoman officials set about on a systematic plan to annihilate its Armenian population is undeniable.

So too is the genocide of Native peoples in the United States, brought on by policies that varied from extermination to forced assimilation. The evidence of this points to “intent to destroy, in whole or in part” (U.N. Genocide Convention definition) the Native American populations in the United States.

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Editor’s Note: This is an updated post from August 2018. The updated version appeared on MinnPost on October 23.

Today the Spanish government removed the corpse of General Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, a grandiose mausoleum and basilica near Madrid that the Dictator had designed to eternally enshrine his victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). After much criticism and legal battles, Franco’s remains were moved to a family tomb in a cemetery in the outskirts of the capital.

Why has it taken so long to remove the body of a dictator from a sanctuary that celebrates his rule? 

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The following offers a recap, an update and another perspective to the Waldsee issue previously discussed in this blog 3/25/3019 by George Dalbo under the title “More than a name… .  The current author discovered the history of the Waldsee name and has remained actively engaged in the Concordia Language Village response.

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Thomas Schmidinger teaches at the University of Vienna in Austria and is both secretary-general of the Austrian Society for the Promotion of Kurdology and coeditor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook.

He is an expert on Syria, Iraq, and Iran and the author of a number of books on migration, cultural integration, and the Middle East, several of which have been translated by U.S. publishers.

Dr. Schmidinger was invited by multiple U.S. Universities, institutions, and bookstores to give a series of lectures this September on his newest book, The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava (PM Press, 2019). The organizers and publishers worked for months on the book tour, and he had all travel plans and papers in order. Everything was set, or so it seemed.

When Dr. Schmidinger arrived at the boarding area on Thursday September 12th, 2019 for the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, where he previously spent a year as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, he was detained and questioned by airline security about his research in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and his travels to these countries. The security personnel expressed their assurances that he would be allowed to board, but they needed to get the go-ahead from Washington, D.C. Then, the unexpected happened.

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Germans also separated children from their parents. In a previously unknown collection at the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek, I recently discovered documents that confirm colonial authorities used family separation as a means of domination in German Southwest Africa (present-day Namibia), Germany’s first and only settlement colony.

A dispatch to the Omaruru District Commander, for instance, details the separation of Emma, an 8-year-old Herero girl, from her parents as they departed from the capital city of Windhoek. It concludes that “she ran after her parents since she belongs with her Omaruru family.” Emma’s fate remains a mystery to the present day. 

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In March 2019, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad ran a four-part series examining antisemitism in the Netherlands and Europe. Published in the midst of global concerns regarding the rise of antisemitism and violent antisemitic attacks, the question of the resurgence of anti-Jewish sentiment is more pressing than ever. According to the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI), there was a 19% increase in cases of antisemitism in the Netherlands from 2017 to 2018. In a survey conducted by the NRC, 70% of Jewish respondents (163 out of 800 identified themselves as Jewish) stated that antisemitism is indeed on the rise and 80% stated that while they have not witnessed antisemitism themselves, they are worried about its growth. This survey is backed by a recent investigation of antisemitism in twelve EU-member states. 89% of European Jews stated they experienced an increase in antisemitism in their home country, with another 38% responding that they have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe.

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Twenty-five years have now passed since the Rwandan genocide. On the evening of April 6th, 1994, the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana served as a final trigger for violence after decades of propaganda, animosity, and killing. Within 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis were dead, as were numerous Hutu political opponents of the genocidal state.

Many Rwandans and foreigners have sought to capture this moment through media coverage, memoirs, film, and documentaries. Images of the killings and of refugee processions, of machetes and of bullet holes, are familiar across the world. But for those who grew up in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the pain of this violence is far more immediate than these decades-old snapshots have the capacity to show.

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We’re at crossroads today: learning lessons from the Holocaust is fundamentally important. Understanding the dire consequences of hate and intolerance is more important today than just about any point in history. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when our memory of the Holocaust is fast fading. It seems as we continue to lose survivors and their critical connection to the past, we lose our willingness to apply their lessons to our own time. A year ago, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany brought this sobering reality to the forefront: Nearly half of millennials cannot name a single concentration camp. Nearly a third of Americans drastically underestimate the number of victims of the Holocaust. Most astounding, almost 70% of Americans say they don’t care about the Holocaust.

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In the woods of northern Minnesota, tucked along the shores of Turtle River Lake, is a small German village called Waldsee. Waldsee, which translates to “forest lake,” is home to Concordia Language Villages’ (CLV) German-language isolation-immersion programs, one of fifteen such language villages sponsored by Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Each summer, hundreds of staff and students pass through the village’s main building, dubbed the “Bahnhof,” or “train station,” to spend two or four weeks fully immersed in German language and culture. Until recently, most were completely unaware that the Nazis once used the name Waldsee as a euphemism for Auschwitz.

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