Tony Greenstein | 03 June 2019 | Post Views:

Walter Wolfgang – farewell to a comrade and friend of Palestine

As a Jewish Refugee from Nazi Germany Walter Wolfgang was a fierce opponent of the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Walter Wolfgang. I first met Walter more than 30 years ago. He was a member of the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine which I chaired and spoke on our platforms.

Walter was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and like an estimated 97% of German Jews he was opposed to Zionism which was rightly seen as a Jewish volkish movement and a reflection of Nazi anti-Semitism.

Walter was also a longstanding Signatory of Jews for Justice in Palestine. It is noticeable, in the present atmosphere whereby anti-Zionists are being witchhunted by racists in the Labour Party as ‘anti-Semites’ that none of the tributes to Walter have mentioned his support of the Palestinian.

It was precisely because he was a man of peace that he supported the victims of Zionist colonisation in Palestine. CND

This is the complete taking liberties video from which the excerpt above is taken. It is fascinating to watch to remind people of how New Labour conducted a wholesale attack on civil liberties

In 2014 Walter spoke at the massive Palestine demonstration against Israel’s genocidal attack on the people of Gaza. As Electronic Intifada reported because he was too frail to climb the steps to the speakers platform he spoke from ground level.I last spoke to Walter outside the Labour Party conference in Liverpool when he made it clear what his opinions were on the false anti-Semitism witchhunt that Pete Willsman is the latest victim of.

When Pete Willsman was last under attack over his description of the Board of Deputies as a bunch of Trump supporters Walter spoke up in his support. We can have little doubt that with the latest contrived charges Walter would have again been amongst Pete’s supporters and it is a great shame that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t have the courage to speak up publicly and rebuke the officials who hastily suspended him.Walter is most famous for when he was violently ejected from the Labour Party conference in Brighton for shouting nonsense after hearing the despicable Jack Straw justifying the invasion of Iraq. One Joe-Ifill-Hosier, who is voluble today about fake-anti-Semitism was one of the thugs who manhandled an 82 year old man.

Even Tony Blair and his spin merchants couldn’t defend this thuggerY and Walter was admitted back to the Conference with an apology. A year later and Walter was also elected to the National Executive Committee.

In these days of fake ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations it’s good to remember the days when New Labour bouncers violently evicted a Jewish refugee from Nazism.

Jeremy Corbyn was written an excellent Opinion piece on Walter. Unfortunately he too omitted Walter’s support for Palestine. Below that is the only other tribute to have mentioned Walter’s Palestine work. This time from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Tony Greenstein

My friend Walter Wolfgang’s life was a portrait in moral courage

Jeremy Corbyn

He always stood up for what he believed in, and he’ll be standing, in spirit, with protesters against Donald Trump

Thu 30 May 2019 18.40 BST Last modified on Thu 30 May 2019Walter Wolfgang at the 2005 Labour party conference the day after he was removed for heckling Jack Straw on his support for the British occupation of Iraq. Photograph: Dan Chung/The Guardian

Donald Trump flies into the UK next week, and we will be treated to the surreal spectacle of a widely reviled president meeting a defeated prime minister amid scenes of pomp, ceremony and protest.For all the high-level meetings he will attend, the president would gain far more by staying home and learning about the life of my friend Walter Wolfgang, who died this week at the age of 95. A lifelong peace activist, he was preoccupied in his final days by Trump and his growing belligerence towards Iran.

Walter’s life story reads like a history of the last century. He was born to Jewish parents in Frankfurt in 1923, a year before the city elected its first Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann. But by 1937 he had to flee from the Nazis to Britain, a teenage refugee. Walter’s parents remained in Germany, only to lose everything when their business was confiscated. His father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. Although he was able to escape Germany for Britain with Walter’s mother in 1939, Buchenwald destroyed his health and caused his premature death in 1945 – the same year that Mayor Landmann died of malnutrition while in hiding from the Nazis.

“As a refugee from Nazi Germany,” Walter later said, “I saw at first hand the terrible consequences of a political doctrine based on hatred and racism.” It was this experience, and a further political awakening when his family was interned like other Germans in England in 1940, that gave Walter a determination to fight prejudice against all peoples and classes. He did not want anybody else, anywhere in the world, to suffer exploitation or oppression, as he and his own family had.This struggle went hand in hand with his commitment to peace. His political beliefs were underpinned by his Jewish faith – “the Jewish aim of human brotherhood”, as he put it, and a desire to make real the Hebrew prophets’ vision of a world without war.

In 1948, having been naturalised as a British citizen, he joined the Labour party. Walter gravitated towards the left, partly as a consequence of his opposition to the Korean war. In 1956 he helped organise a momentous demonstration in Trafalgar Square against the invasion of Suez – one of the occasions on which he found the Labour leadership was on his side.

Walter was horrified by the cold war and the prospect of nuclear annihilation. In 1958 he was a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and helped organise the first Aldermaston march to Britain’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment – an occasion he remembered for the presence of bands and music and an unexpectedly good turnout.

He stood as a Labour candidate for Croydon North East in the 1959 general election. He did not win, and was prevented from standing again due to his anti-nuclear views. Unperturbed, he dedicated the rest of his life to that cause – a level of commitment that was recognised when CND made him its vice-president for life.

In later life, Walter campaigned vigorously against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and became celebrated for an incident at the 2005 Labour party conference, when he was forcefully ejected from the hall after heckling “Nonsense” at foreign secretary Jack Straw as he extolled the virtues of the British occupation of Iraq.

The footage of an 82-year-old man being manhandled and then detained under anti-terrorism laws caused widespread outrage and became symbolic of the growing intolerance of open debate in the party. Next morning Walter was readmitted to the conference hall to a standing ovation from the floor and, later, an apology from Tony Blair. A year after the debacle, in a fitting riposte from the grassroots to the party hierarchy, he was elected to Labour’s national executive.

To me, Walter was always a dear friend and a courageous moral leader. I visited him in hospital shortly before he died. He was very ill but his mind was still sharp. I asked him to record a message on my phone. He said: “The objective of the Labour party and the peace movement is a peaceful world without exploitation.”

I very much doubt that President Trump will hear similar sentiments from Theresa May next week, but there will be thousands on the streets to amplify Walter’s message. I know that if he was still with us, he would be there too, back in Trafalgar Square, standing up for peace.

Walter Wolfgang (1923-2019)

Posted on May 31, 2019, by icahduk & filed under News.

ICAHD UK would like to pay tribute, alongside many other individuals and organisations, to Walter Wolfgang who died on 29thMay, aged 95. A life-long socialist and anti-war campaigner, Walter was also a member of ICAHD UK, and a great supporter.

His family was persecuted under the Nazis so in 1937, when just 13 years old, Walter fled Germany and came to live in Britain. His parents arrived two years later. However, that first-hand experience of racism, fascism and war moulded his outlook on life.

A synagogue attender, Walter’s beliefs were grounded in Judaism and Jewish ethical values of human equality therefore he was highly critical of Israeli government policy and its treatment of Palestinians. He was outspoken on the false accusations of anti-Semitism thrown at people within the Labour party. Walter was never afraid to speak truth to power and with every ounce of his being lived each day doing what he could to stand up for what he believed in, no matter what this meant in terms of personal sacrifice for an easy life.

Walter Wolfgang was an example to us all and we were proud to have him as one of our members. May his life inspire us as we continue our campaign for the end of the demolitions of Palestinian homes, the displacement of the Palestinian people and as we call for a just and sustainable solution for all people in Palestine/Israel.

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Tony Greenstein

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