. . . is the Winner
“The Americans fought WWII against the Germans, with the help of the Russians, on behalf of the Jews”.
So went the opening of an article in NEWSWEEK some years ago, and it was incorrect in every fact. WWII began when Britain declared war on Germany because they marched into Poland intent on conquering Europe. America stayed out of this “European War” until Pearl Harbor, and the Russians signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler—and the plight of the Jews was never raised during the whole of the war. And after the war the horrors of AUSCHWITZ were not the centre piece of the grisly pictures of the Nazis’ concentration/labour/death camps. Yet the international edition of The Sunday Times this weekend had yet another article about Auschwitz.
Approximately 22 Million people died in various concentration camps of which about 6 Million were Jews. But there were also millions of non-Jewish Poles and French, and many thousands of Roma, homosexuals, political prisoners, Prisoners of War and common criminals exterminated in labour/death camps.
I am lucky/unlucky enough to remember WWII. I was 12 when it ended, and my father was a serious man who took and read two newspapers a day – three on a Sunday. Our house was full of news. During the war I remember nothing being reported of the plight of the Jews, and after the war the horrors of the concentration camps were depicted by Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau. Only much later were the horrors of Auschwitz detailed. It was one of the biggest death camps and dedicated to the extermination of Jews – but it was not the biggest.
Who has heard of Mathausen-Gusen complex, which was the biggest, a category Stufe III labour camp dedicated to bone grinding down the intelligentsia of Europe, and where more than 300,000 died? How many books, movies and magazine articles have been written about that camp?
I am not comfortable applying league tables to atrocities—the extermination of any group of humans be they Jews, Roma, homosexuals, intelligentsia—is a crime against humanity. But I am even less comfortable with people justifying evil because they had evil done to them. Perhaps it is my Christian upbringing but I find fanaticism, hate and terrorism despicable. Wreaking vengeance on those who did you evil is understandable—but savaging your friends because they do not support your extreme views (that ironically align closely with Fascism) is not.
Like most Brits, when the details of the Final Solution and the horrors of Auschwitz were revealed, I had enormous sympathy for The Jews. But this was dissipated by the activities of Irgun and The Stern Gang—the massacre at Beir Yassim, the assassinations of Lord Moyne and Folke Bernadotte, the bombing of the King David Hotel, the cold blooded execution of unarmed British soldiers, and the hanging of two captured British NCOs in an orchard, the pictures of which caused my grandmother to exclaim:
“Hitler wasn’t wrong.”
Even at my young age her comment made my blood run cold – but I do understand the strength of her emotions. She lost brothers in WWI, and she lost many nights sleep and died young because of the stress of WWII when her sons and their cousins went to war to fight the evils of Fascism. By some miracle they all survived—she did not.
My grandmother was an Orange Lodge Protestant banner carrying Sermon on The Mount Socialist from Greenock, Scotland. She is the backbone of my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. She is real, and the stories in the book are journalistic, based on events I witnessed during 40 years in the Mideast, and the archetypes of the expatriate characters who wash up there for whatever reason.
Read Layla and Uncle Tom’s story in my book: the Christian Palestinian woman and ruin of an elderly Englishman who against all the brutal odds tried to run a Church of England orphanage near Ramallah—and failed.
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