On May 8, 1945, the world celebrated the end of a horrific war that claimed the lives of 60 million people. Members of Avaaz, an international activist group, rallied in Paris, joined by an 88-year-old holocaust survivor, to mark the occasion and to celebrate the outcome of the French election. The members of this advocacy group, concerned about the rising tide of fascism and xenophobia around the world, connected the end of the war with the French National Front’s loss and the defeat of other anti-immigrant candidates in Austria and the Netherlands.
Elie Buzyn was only 15 years old when he and his family were taken away from their home in France by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. His parents died shortly thereafter and he was force to labor for the Nazis until the camp was liberated by the Russians. Unfortunately, he was one of the prisoners who the Nazis marched off to Buchenwald in the depths of winter. He was only liberated at the end of the war.
Buzyn, now a doctor in France, continues to work tirelessly to uphold the promise he made to his mother, that he would continue to fight against fascism. Buzyn reminded the other activists that the battle is not over, and that there are more elections around the corner in France, throughout Europe, and around the world.
Avaaz is based on New York but is active in over 200 nations and boasts 40 million members. The organization was founded 10 years ago by members of other progressive organizations and advocates on social justice, human rights, and environmental issues. One unique aspect of the organization is its member-generated initiatives, which are then voted on by the whole membership. This ensures that issues that usually get lost in the shuffle find a way to reach a mass audience.