Alleged Nazi salute at Melbourne screening of Holocaust film
March 12, 2024

Recent reports allege that yesterday a group of people engaged in hate speech and performed the Nazi salute during a screening of a film about the Holocaust - The Zone of Interest - at a cinema in Melbourne.

This event cannot be taken in isolation, the National Socialist Network aims to get media attention through offensive stunts such as participating in the March 2023 transphobic rally at Victorian Parliament, in October 2023 rallying at Flinders Street Station and in December 2023, organising a march through the streets of Ballarat. This group was recently thrown out of a Sunshine West gym, which served as their operating base, in response to consistent community pressure. 

The Jewish Council is deeply concerned about antisemitic hate by neo-Nazis, and is concerned about all incidents of antisemitism, racism, and racially driven hatred. 

The Zone of Interest is a fictionalised account of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss and his family, who lived at the concentration camp. Over 1 million Jews were murdered in Auschwitz. The film recently won an Oscar for best international film.

In his Oscar’s acceptance speech, the director of this film, Jonathan Glazer, called for an end to Israel’s attack on Gaza and said “‘We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza.”

Dr Max Kaiser, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia

The perpetrators of this disgraceful incident have showcased nothing but their own moral bankruptcy. These people are nothing more than contemptible, pathetic individuals seeking attention through offensive behaviour.

Neo-nazis breed in a soup of racism encouraged by Australian politicians who regularly attempt to whip up anti-migrant, anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic sentiment. 

Sarah Schwartz, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia

If these reports are confirmed, this is a clear incident of antisemitism and racism. The Nazi salute is offensive and violent towards Jews, as it is to other racialised groups. This incident reinforces the importance for Jewish people to work in partnership with other groups experiencing racism, to truly combat all forms of white supremacy.

As the film’s director, Jonathan Glazer, said in his acceptance speech last night, this film shows “where dehumanisation leads at its worst”. We must heed this call and stand strongly against dehumanisation of any group. We applaud Glazer’s call for an end to Israel’s hijacking of Holocaust memory as justification for ongoing occupation and violence against Palestinians. 

Media contact:

0493 970 412

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