Feeling grateful this morning that I am alive. I have just spent the last few hours trailing through a list of names on My Heritage for a possible tv documentary looking for people who might have been saved by a friend’s uncle from the Nazis. It is a very sobering experience and puts everything else in to context.
The list is long. All these names all these people who had families, stories, lives, friends, lovers and yet so many of them perished. Born in Berlin, in Leipzig, in Vienna, in Romania, in Poland, died in Auschwitz. One entry was particular poignant; born December 1942 in Auschwitz, died January 1943 Auschwitz.
It’s a place I rarely go as it is too painful. As a young Jew I went through a stage of reading everything about the Holocaust – I needed to know. But stopped after reading Primo Levi’s Book If this is a man. A good place to stop. Remarkable book. Remarkable man.
Odd that it coincided with me finishing reading last night The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman which shines a light on the role China played in offering a temporary refuge for some 18,000 Jews fleeing Europe. Shamefully one of the few countries to offer a home to eastern European Jews escaping Hitler. Despite Britain’s pride in rescuing several thousand Jewish children before WWII, the truth is that successive British governments failed Europe’s Jews before the Holocaust – and afterwards.
It is something I am acutely aware of when looking at the plight of the current refugees fleeing their war torn countries. It feels like there is an uncomfortable parallel in the language being used to describe those seeking asylum today and the language used to describe Jews seeking refuge in the 1930’s. The Daily Mail back in 1938 referred the Jews escaping Germany as “Stateless Jews pouring into this country” and it warned of “aliens” entering the UK through the “back door”. Sound familiar?
I know its all getting very heavy so I will leave writing about Patrick Melrose, the SKY drama series, depicted by the brilliant Benedict Cumerbatch and whether his psychopathic father was genetically evil. I had been thinking of discussing whether one could be born evil or whether the environment had a part to play – but maybe I will leave that for another day.
Instead I will end with the random statistic that apparently according to a new study by Leeds, Edinburgh and UCL universities Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice since 1994 . But of course climate change is a myth!