Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Europe is a bystander to human tragedy, yet again

20/02/2015, 06:00:50 PM

by Ranjit Sidhu

A few weeks ago, at the 70th year commemoration of Auschwitz, Roman Kent, a survivor of the Holocaust made a speech about his fear, that we again become bystanders to tragic events.  With tears in his eyes, he said,

“When I think of the holocaust as I often do …I think of the righteous gentiles who endangered their own lives, and their families to save the life of a stranger…We must ALL be involved and stay involved, no one, no one ever should be a spectator, I feel so strongly about this point that if I had the power I would add a 11th commandment to the universally accepted 10 commandments, you should never, never be a bystander.”

The indifference of those around them is both the most haunting refrain of many holocaust survivors and also the most pressing warning for the future. Elie Wiesel, the writer of Nightin 1999 said,

“…to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman… Indifference is not a response for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.”

Elie Wiesel in the same speech went on to mention the totemic event of indifference to the plight of the Jews in Europe before the Second World War started, The Voyage of the St Louis,

“Sixty years ago, its human cargo — maybe 1,000 Jews — was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.”

The St Louis was not an isolated event, many ships full with Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism were turned back in 1938 to 1939 be it from the UK, US or Denmark or the then colonially controlled Middle East and Africa.

Looking back now, with 76 years passed, we can look back in shame how the world was a bystander to those fleeing Europe and genocide.


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If “never again” is to be more than just a phrase, we cannot let Mein Kampf be a best-seller

09/02/2015, 07:00:42 AM

by Thomas Docherty

Today, a cross-party report on anti-Semitism has been published which has my personal backing and that of our party leader. Anti-Semitism is a societal ill and the 34 recommendations of that report form an important roadmap to recovery. I was particularly concerned to read in the report about the increasing trend towards using Holocaust imagery and inappropriate Nazi comparisons in the context of debate on the Middle East conflict.

As readers might know, my opposition to racism and anti-Semitism is well established. Last month, I wrote on a related matter to the Culture Secretary asking him to consult on the sale of the notorious Mein Kampf, Hitler’s political philosophy which led to the systematic murder of six million Jews and others in the Holocaust.

In recent weeks and specifically following the horrendous Charlie Hebdo attacks the debate over “the right to offend” has served to underline the central importance of free speech in our society and to our democracy. Whilst I appreciate that some will disagree with me, I believe that the sale and distribution of Mein Kampf must be debated as it transcends the limits of acceptable discourse. There is, of course, historical value in its limited distribution and in proper academic study of its contents. However, the ease with which it can be obtained from online and other retailers is profoundly disturbing. Surely, we can’t be expected to believe that it’s ranking as a bestseller for Amazon arises from academic demand for the tome.

From humble beginnings, Hitler’s political design ended in unique horror of holocaust. The seeds sown by Mein Kampf are still inciting racial hatred and fuelling anti-Semitism today and it is no surprise that it has been banned in a number of other countries. The distribution of Mein Kampf twinned with the demeaning and trivialisation of the Holocaust is a very worrying trend. I was struck to read in the All-Party Parliamentary Report into Anti-Semitism during last summer that Hitler, Holocaust and Nazi were among the top 35 key words used on Twitter in relation to Jews. I was equally concerned to see that the term “Hitler was right” had trended across the world.


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