It was my intention to write about Holocaust Memorial Day yesterday on the actual day which commemorates the horror of those times: I put it off because of all the abuse I’ve been taking from the liars who are targeting me with the vile and ludicrous accusation that I am an anti Semite: the bigger the lie eh? I expect that they will try to accuse me of whatever corrupt thoughts enter their minds. They will no doubt try to suggest that I am exploiting these events but: I am sure that they would want to intimidate me and prevent me from writing, that would be a victory for them: I have decided not to allow these people that victory: it would be a betrayal of those who suffered and died: over and above that I will not be silenced by liars and bullies.
There is now an issue about the history of the Holocaust and how and indeed if: it should be taught in schools: some people say we should allow it to die down; let it go: it was a long time ago etc. I disagree. I believe that every child should leave school with the knowledge of what happened: there should not be any adults walking around who are ignorant of these events. There are some seriously evil malcontents here in the UK and elsewhere in the world that would gladly follow the policies and philosophy of the Nazis if they got the chance: the British Tories sit and deal with and socialise with some of them in the European Parliament. There is absolutely no room for complacency: consider the words of the great German dramatist Brecht on the defeat of Hitler and fascism
“Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”
Four years ago I sat on a grass verge drinking cold beer on a beautiful summer day with some friends almost under the watch towers of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland: it was my second visit in 3 years and I’m still not sure what made me return: perhaps it was to confirm to myself that the horror was real and of course it was. Our group had done the tour and we were now discussing what we had seen and been told by our young Jewish guide. The conversation came alive when someone asked the inevitable question ‘how could they’? I could not resist asking “could we”? and off we went: some were angry at the very thought of us upright decent British people even considering such a thing. I had made up my mind many years before that we could and did do similar things (read the history)
One of our companions was a wiry little retired Welsh miner of indeterminate age who volunteered the information that he was self educated (to a high degree) and that he was a lifelong communist: he displayed an encyclopedic grasp of history embellished with his own war experiences. The group were mainly not very enamoured with the Germans and what some saw as their ‘character’ which allowed them to do such things. The Welsh wizard in our midst then stunned us all by pouring forth the following ‘tour de force’ which I now do from memory but: I’m sure you will get his drift. He said “never mind Hitler what about Beethoven: forget Goering what about Gutenberg” he warmed to his task as he growled “F**k Himmler think about Handel and Bach, all Germans and all giants” As we piled back on to the coach we could still hear him loudly naming Marx and Engles: among others.
He opened some minds that day and forced us to think about ourselves: he was of course emphasizing that it was events and circumstances which produced the Nazis and the Holocaust and not the ‘German character’ he left us with the uncomfortable thought that perhaps we could be capable of doing such things: he was in no doubt and neither was I and that dear reader is a good example of why we must continue to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and reflect on the uncomfortable truth that it is mankind who is capable of such acts not just one nation.
I often think back to that day and I remember trying to picture what it must have been like when the Russians liberated Auschwitz 65 years ago yesterday: what went through the survivor’s minds? how did they react? Surely none of them thought they would survive? A week later we were in Warsaw walking through the Warsaw Ghetto: this time without a guide: the incredible little Welsh communist miner knew it backwards and talked us through it all. I sought out his company as often as I could and he made the holiday superb: along with others we only called him Taffy on his insistence: I don’t even know his name, I wish I could send him to every school in the country.