I am an Anglo Catholic, not a Jew. I was born long enough ago to remember being in tears watching Richard Dimbleby’s famous TV broadcast from the Belsen Concentration Camp and watching that great broadcaster also dissolving into tears.
Spare a thought today. January 27th is World Holocaust Day; I made it the subject of a Blog last year. This year I feel that the Israelis reaction to the Hamas rockets fired from Gaza may have lost them some of the empathy of humanity outside of Israel. However Holocaust day is not just about the genocides of World War II, it is also about Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Algeria, Syria and Darfur and all of the rest of man’s inhumanity to man.
Ten years ago, with my travel journalist’s hat on I was visiting Poland; staying near Krakow at a small town called Zakapane at the foot of the Tetra Mountains it was a beautiful unspoiled part of the world. Partly because of my nature, being a nosy old sod who has to stir an ant’s nest and partly because I am a child of WWII, I took the serene beautiful one with me to visit the former death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau which remains exactly as it was when it was liberated by the Russian Army. I really know how to show a girl a good time. But I had to go to remind ourselves that true evil exists in our midst.
So much has been written about the concentration camp that I am not going to sully my website by repeating it. The death camp with its gas chambers where over 3 million Jews died has such an aura over it that even now I am left with such a feeling of shame. I took my camera with me as any photo journalist would; I took a photo of the gates of hell from outside but inside, where no birds sing I simply was unable to photograph anything. I wouldn’t have seen through the viewfinder for my tears.
January 25th was the day we celebrated the birth of Robert Burns, to again quote him as I often do, “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!”
Allow me to repeat Pastor Martin Niemöller’s litany of indifference:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me – and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.
This year on Holocaust Day, Yom Hashoah, let us try to get our message across, speak out! – For Christ’s Sake Stop the Carnage.