On April 21 1990, the Gainesville Downtown Plaza, now Bo Diddley Plaza, was rented to celebrate Hitler’s birthday (word was whoever signed the paperwork didn’t know what “the fuhrer’s birthday” meant). Much as today, authorities wanted the event ignored, but an activist-minded President of UF Student Government, as well as many community activists, turned out over 500 people for a counter rally.
The celebrants had about 18 people, an assortment of skinheads and nazis. Their “seig heils” were met with loud “fuck yous.” And of course, a large police presence was involved, with everyone required to go through metal detectors. What follows ran in the May 1990 Gainesville Iguana:
(Carol Giardina of Gainesville Women’s Liberation spoke about women, and the larger Nazi threat. Here is part of her speech at the rally.)
The Nazis are anti-woman and they’re anti-women’s liberation. They had a KKK just for women. Küche, Kirche, und Kinder. Cooking, church, and children was a Nazi slogan … For Aryan women – blonde, blue-eyed women – their function was the forced production of future fascists. Others were forced into whorehouses, for the Nazi armies. They were sterilized and exterminated. Feminists share a common enemy in Hitler with all of labor and working people …
I wish I could say that the threat was just these few Nazis in this plaza. These chumps, these dupes over here. I wish I could say that the threat was confined to some fringey skinheads. How dare they come out here, these people whose National Socialist Party brought us the carnage of World War II. Are they really anti-establishment rebels, or do they have backers in high places? [A prior speaker] said … there are Nazi doctors and lawyers, Nazis with money and position. Yes there are Nazis in high places. In very high places indeed, with their Nazi credentials well covered-up. Some of them are covered up and promoted, financed and supported by our government.
Since its rise to power in Germany, fascism has been an establishment financed, police-backed thing … For example, Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company was a major financial backer of Hitler. More recently Kurt Waldheim, for years the Secretary General of the United Nations, his Nazism finally well-documented and exposed, he became the president of Austria, even after his exposure. How did he get to be the United Nations secretary? Right after WWII ended, our government helped to hide him, to hide the record of his Nazi work. He was a Nazi intelligence officer, in other words a torturer. That’s how they got their information.
Then, the Austrian son-in-law of Allen Dulles — Allen Dulles was the CIA director all through the 1950s — recommended and installed Waldheim in the Austrian foreign ministry with a clean slate. It’s been shown that the U.S. government knew this and not only worked to help him get the top UN job, but it suppressed the information about his past, as it had before.
Even as the U.S. government tried Nazis for war crimes at Nuremburg, it helped others to escape and start new careers. For many, their new careers were jobs with the US. government. They were hired to set up and operate the new U.S. spy shop, the fledgling CIA. A well-documented example is General Reinhardt Gehlen, Hitler’s most senior intelligence officer on the eastern front. Waldheim worked in Gehlen’s operation. Our government set General Gehlen up… How has [our government] gotten away with doing this? Some say that it’s because of anti-semitism. Others remind us that our government has to do very bad things, or not do good ones, which they continually justify by playing on our fears of communism, like not developing a national health care system, or supporting death squads in Latin America, or propping up horrible dictators, or using the Nazis to work in the CIA, because they know we are chumps for this anti-communism argument.
We are easily scared by it. They think we’ll support anything, even a Nazi, just because he’s 100 percent anti-communist … But we must not be fooled by this like so many German people were … We won’t accept or support Nazis, regardless of what else they’re against, because we know what they’re for, we know what they did in the past and want to do in the future … We will not be fooled into the trick that to ignore the Nazis and they will go away. No they won’t. People of good will buried their heads in the sand in the ’20s and ’30s and look what happened. This strategy is a demonstrated loser …
Many of you are aware that our Chief of Police Clifton called a number of black and Jewish and other community leaders together to ask them to have their people stay away from this plaza today and not stand up and be counted against this Nazi rally … Now think about how if a City Commissioner, or a minister did that, well we might disagree with the strategy of ignoring the Nazis, but don’t you think there’s a different feeling about it if the Chief of Police calls you to a meeting and asks you not to come out to a certain place?
When the Chief of Police does it, because of his position, no matter how nicely he says it, couldn’t it be taken as intimidation? Couldn’t this have a little extra impact because it was the Chief of Police doing it? I was even a little afraid to even bring this up about what the Chief of Police did. He has no business telling us he doesn’t want us to come here. He is here to protect us, not to advise us where he wants us to come or not come …We say never again to ignoring the Nazis. Never Again!