More than 300 students and supporters took part in a rally in front of the main building of Berlin’s Humboldt University on Wednesday afternoon, December 13. Their protest was directed against the Israel Defence Forces’ genocide in the Gaza Strip, but also against the censorship of opponents of war at German universities.
The rally was called by an alliance of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), the Islamic Theology Faculty Group at HU, the Black Student Union at HU and the BCB Student Union. In addition, representatives of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East and the Student Collective Berlin spoke at the event.
The participants accompanied the contributions with spirited slogans and chants. Many carried homemade posters with statements such as: “Stop the killing!” “Selective empathy,“ “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere” and “Officially, the 2023/24 academic year has been ended due to the MARTYRDOM of ALL STUDENTS—Ministry of Education in Gaza.”
It became clear that despite all the bans imposed by politicians and media lies, the genocide of the Palestinians by the Israeli government cannot be covered up. In Gaza alone, more than 18,000 people, most of them women and children, have been killed since October 7. In Berlin, the participants loudly protested against the cooperation of the Social Democrat/Green/Free Democrat coalition, especially Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, with the ethnic cleansing by the Netanyahu government. Whenever the names Scholz and Baerbock were mentioned, loud chants such as “Shame on you! Shame on you!” were heard.
The rally was an impressive counterweight to the ubiquitous, pro-Israel government propaganda in Germany. Gregor Kahl from the IYSSE group at HU, who led the rally, said in his strong closing remarks:
“The same forces that want to teach us about antisemitism are working closely with real antisemites and neo-Nazis. They are constantly relativizing and trivializing the Holocaust!” He reported: “We ourselves have been fighting for years at Humboldt University against the trivialization of Nazi crimes and the rehabilitation of German militarism.” Other speakers had previously pointed out that professors such as the notoriously right-wing Jörg Baberowski, with his claim “Hitler was not cruel,” were expressly protected by the university management.
The socialist perspective explained by Kahl in his speech met with great resonance. Kahl emphasized:
“Even the protests so far show that the working class today is bigger than ever, more connected than ever, more international than ever. It is unquestionably the social force that can end the war.
“But this force must be armed with a perspective. The war cannot be ended, the genocide cannot be stopped, without breaking the power of the banks and corporations and putting them under democratic control. Only when workers act as an independent political force and overthrow capitalism can they eradicate the root of war.”
The rally made clear that the return to war and fascism confronts great anger and resistance, even if this resistance still requires conscious organization and connection with the international working class. In the next few days, the WSWS will report in more detail on the rallies at Humboldt University as well as at the Ruhr University of Bochum the previous day.