"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced" - James Baldwin
Friday 24 January 2020
recently watched the BBC4 film about Jewish survivors from the Bergen-Belsen
Nazi concentration camp in northern Germany.
1943 and 1945 52,000 inmates perished there and 20,000 Russian POWs.
It was where Anne Frank died.
heard from Peter Lantos, Zdenka Fatlova, Maurice Blik, Mala Tribich,
Anita Lasker-Walfisch, Geria Turgeb. It seems to me important to name
the few still living since we cannot name the many who died.
camp was liberated by British - Canadian troops and I watched the
film. wondering if I would see my father. He was one of the British
army doctors who arrived there on 15 April 1945. I remember he told
me that thousands died after they arrived, many from typhus, TB and
dysentry, then many more from being fed high calorie rations too
quickly. As a physician, he felt a guilt and responsibility for this
he was an old man I asked him what had happened to the photos he had
kept of the emaciated survivors. He told me that he had thrown them
away. I was shocked because he had documented the reality of fascism,
but knowing the man, perhaps he wanted to remove the memory
altogether. When I was a small boy I used to take them from the
bottom drawer of his his desk, spread them on the floor and stare at
these skeletal humans in horror.
have spent my life affected by those photographs of bones breaking
through parchment skin, eyes bulging from their sockets, a pleading
have never thrown away any of that and have honoured their memory as
an active socialist and anti-racist.
is popular to say ‘Never Again’, but this is just a hope and
genocides have continued in one form or another throughout my life.
To those two words we must add two more that demand our action. Taken
from the fight against fascism in Franco's Spain they are, No