Tag Archives: the holocaust

The White Rose Opposition to Hitler

Oxford University has hosted a reading of the pamphlets, produced by the White Rose student opposition movement to Hitler, (in English translation). All of the White Rose’s members were executed by Nazi Germany.

You can listen to English readings of all of the pamphlets, together with introductory comments, here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqhoCj5MXzo&feature=youtu.be.

Book Banning

An interesting post on the subject of book banning, https://ckbookspublishing.com/2019/09/27/book-banning-is-it-right/.

As someone who read history and politics at University College Swansea, I am aware of (and concerned by) works which deny (or greatly downplay) the horrors of the holocaust. Long before the rise of the internet, pamphlets such as “Did 6 Million Really Die?”, and “The Hoax of the 20th Century”, peddled the wholly erroneous and poisonous view that the Nazis had no plan to wipe out European jewry. However, since the birth of the World Wide Web books such as this (previously available in back street bookstores or via mail order only) can now be obtained with the click of a mouse. Indeed much of this material is freely available online.

In my view the best way to deal with such unhistorical rubbish is to shine the lense of truth on it, rather than ban such works. Whenever “literature” of this nature has been exposed to proper examination it has been revealed for the trash that it is, (see, for example the various court cases in which holocaust deniers have been proved to be peddlers of untruth).

Also, by banning an idea, one risks making it “sexy”, and one may (albeit unintentionally) help to foster the view that “the establishment” (whoever they may be) have something to hide. So no, book banning is not the answer.

Kevin

“On The Brink Of A Pit”, by David Holbrook, Analysis

In “On The Brink Of A pit”, David Holbrook describes taking his daughter, Kate to a party being held to celebrate the 12th birthday of her Jewish friend, Melanie.

The friendship between the 2 children is very close:

“I took our child to her party, carrying a book-token
Covered in child-gay seals, because they love one another”.

And:
“Melanie assured me with her guileless big blue eyes
Her father would bring Kate home, fondly drew her into the house”.

Here we have a beautiful picture of 2 children, one Jewish and the other non-Jewish who love one another and are unconcerned with racial or religious differences.

This beautiful portrait is enhanced as the street is full of birdsong and:

“Warm sun honeyed the suburban gardens”.

Yet the line:

“handsome women
tapped over a few skeleton leaves on the muddy pavements”, signifies that all is far from being right. “skeleton” speaks of death. The leaves are as dead as the Jews who perished in Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”, under which approximately 6 million Jews where murdered in gas chambers and by other means.

Holbrook wants “a thousand lives to worship what Melanie was”, and the thought of the horrors of the mass extermination of Jews causes him to openly weep in the street
“There being as much hate in garden cities as at Majdenek”.

This is a deeply shocking poem which never fails to move me. It is as relevant today as when it was written. In its mildest forms I have heard people say, “the Jews control the media”, or “Jews are mean”. Such words are often spoken by those who would be genuinely horrified if they thought that by speaking them they could be contributing to antisemitism, and that they could, indirectly cause a resurgence of virulent Jew hatred. Yet such words do feed the monster of hatred towards Jews, and I hear behind the words spoken in pubs or over dinner tables the crunch of jackboots in concentration camps.

Other expressions of antisemitism are more direct, ranging from the desecration of Jewish graves to the murder of Jewish people.

It is sometimes said, by ignorant people that poetry doesn’t matter. Holbrook’s poem prooves them wrong.

(“On The Brink Of A Pit”, can be found in “The Golden Treasury of The Best Songs And Lyrical Poems In The English Language”, selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave. Updated by John Press. Sixth Edition”. page 571).

Goebbel’s Secretary Dies Age 106

The Guardian of 30 January, carries an article regarding the life of Joseph Goebbel’s Secretary, who has died at the age of 106, following a rapid decline in her health hastened by a fall. During her time at the Nazi’s Propaganda Ministry she falsified statistics by exaggerating the number of rapes committed by Soviet soldiers and underestermating the number of German troops killed. Interestingly a Jewish friend died in a concentration camp, while her Jewish lover didn’t survive the war.
A filme (with a book to accompany it) has been made about this fascinating lady.
For the article please visit, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/30/joseph-goebbels-secretary-dies-brunhilde-pomsel.