In the last week of October 2010, the actions of the German government in raiding left-wing offices in Berlin and the arson attacks carried out by Nazis on the social centre Infoladen M99 in the Kreuzberg district of the city are a disturbing echo of events which took place almost two decades ago.
This month marks 18 years since the murder of radical left-wing activist Silvio Meier. Silvio  was associated with radical, anti-fascist activities in East Berlin before the collapse of the German Democratic Republic. In the Berlin of 1989, he along with other activists established a squat in Friedrichshain and as a part of daily life in eastern Berlin he took part in the regular confrontations with Nazi gangs.
As time passed, confrontations with Nazis became a part of daily life. Silvio and other anti-fascist activists realised that no quarter could be given to the Nazis and every time they appeared publicly they had to be challenged.
On the night that he lost his life, Silvio was heading to a party along with three friends. They arrived at the underground station at Samaritan Road to find 12 Nazis waiting on the platform. The four weren’t afraid of the Nazi’s superior numbers and confronted the group immediately, ripping right-wing patches from their jackets and, soon, the Nazis ran for the station’s exits. During the fight, the last train had passed and the four friends had now to head for the street. As they did so, the Nazis attacked and stabbed an unarmed Silvio.
As Silvio was fighting for his life in hospital, the police took the outrageous step of interrogating his friends as suspects in his stabbing. Silvio died of his wounds and the police announced publicly that there would be no charges brought against the Nazi gang and that the murder had no link to politics.
Anti-fascist groups went on the offensive. Publicity and demonstrations were linked to spectacular events such as burning down buildings where Nazis had offices and social centres. Eventually, the police stopped their persecution of Silvio’s friends and turned their attention to the Nazis.
Only five of the 12 Nazis involved on the night were charged and, although Silvio had multiple stab wounds to his chest, the five were not to be charged with murder but merely with assault related charges. Only three of the murderers were actually imprisoned.
Capitalism will defend itself with state forces or with violent Nazi gangs, depending on the situation. People like Silvio Meier, who stopped at nothing in confronting these gangs, should be remembered always.
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