I started working on this short series of posts while sitting in Frankfurt airport, en route to Ukraine. Just in front of me is a muted TV screen with the local news. I don’t speak German, but I can make out the odd phrase. And the main item is from Auschwitz. Because today is Holocaust Memorial Day and it is especially significant since it marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. There won’t be many more marked by survivors themselves. You have to respect the way that Germany has confronted, and continues to face, its Nazi past. I don’t know of other countries (mine included) that have examined the darker periods of their history as rigorously (including others complicit in the Holocaust).
Of course, there are some who question its ongoing necessity, perhaps apart from the consolation it provides for Holocaust’s victims and their descendants. However, the very next item on the news–clearly no coincidence–reported on the re-emergence of Germany’s far-right which unflinchingly brandishes its Nazi credentials. The same story is being told across Europe: Germany, France, Austria, Poland, etc, etc.
But it’s not just the political right…
And it’s not just ‘over there’…
It’s over here too…
Just days after the December 2019 UK General Election, I received an email from an old university friend (with whom I’d been corresponding for several months). Here’s some of what she said:
I was heartbroken. The writer is a precious friend and not someone easily given to exaggeration or hyperbole. But it was nevertheless something of a relief to hear that she didn’t feel the need to leave immediately. That would have represented an intolerable indictment on contemporary Britain.
But it does not mean, of course, the problem has gone away. What is going on when nearly the whole of the British Jewish community is afraid of rising hostility within the ranks of the Labour Party? A party, after all, that’s long been a natural political home for Jewish people.
More needs to be said…
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Dear Mark, Your thoughts on Auschwitz are so timely – not only ‘lest we forget’ but ‘lest we forget to remember that people need to have the historical facts highlighted. Alas, I think it’s all too possible that something of that kind could happen again.
Have you read the book “The Girl in the Red Coat” by Roma Ligocka” ? It rings true because it is true.
Mary Tatlow (attended A.S. for thirty years with husband David).