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Remembering the Holocaust and the impact on societies today.

Remembering the Holocaust and the impact on societies today.

Simon Bell
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This is an interesting and thoughtful book, in particular for those with an interest in both the Holocaust and the wider treatment of the minority Jewish community in parts of Europe. The scourge of anti-Semitism is not just confined to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, but has been widespread in Europe long before and after the period of 1933 and 1945.


The author has looked at a number of countries, including the UK and the USA. In the case of the UK and the USA, the detail appears to be more in-depth and comprehensive as they have been open societies and with legislation such as the Freedom of Information Acts and the regular release of time expired government papers under such in the UK the 30 and 50-year rules. The other countries have less depth, but the author has attempted to delve as deeply as possible into the histories of their treatment of their Jewish communities in particular.

The comment is made on the concepts of 'negation' or 'minimalisation' of the history of the Holocaust by some historians, as has been shown by the Lippstadt v Irving case. The Polish government has in recent years introduced a law to outlaw any mention or concept of Polish involvement in the persecution of the Polish Jewish community and the Holocaust. This is despite the well-documented history of not just persecution, but pogroms and murders. These programs and episodes of persecution happened prior to the invasion of Germany in 1939 and continued under Soviet occupation

The Ukrainian people in 1941 looked upon the Germans as liberators initially and as they considered Judaism and Communism to be inextricably linked together, reinforced by the effects of the Holodomor massacres. It has been shown that some in Ukraine were enthusiastic participants in the programs between 1941 and 1944 and within the concentration/extermination camps.

Hungary in relation to the Holocaust was different again, in particular to its political and historical situation. At the start, Hungary was an ally of Germany, but when the fortunes of war changed they tried to change. Whilst widespread murder of their Jewish community was limited, they did arrest and detain their Jewish community and assisted in the deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, from which few survived.

The dearth of information, if it was even held, from Eastern Europe contrasts greatly to that from the west, being more 'open' societies.

Within the UK and USA, political movements were against the admission of Jewish refugees from mainland Europe, despite evidence of the ongoing danger of German expansionism. The UK, in particular, had concerns about allowing Jewish refugees to enter the UK and the situation in the Middle East, and the innate conservatism within the Foreign and Home Offices, with a streak of anti-Semitism. The territory belonging to the UK that was occupied, the Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands, those of the Jewish faith all three of them were identified by registration and marking their identity cards. All three were eventually deported to extermination camps and murdered. It is believed that many files regarding the occupation have not been released into the public domain, and the Occupation and some people's activities are still closely held secrets.

In France, anti-Semitism was well embedded within French society before 1939 and during the occupation, some of their laws were more extreme and restrictive than even the Nuremberg Laws. The French authorities, police, and militias assisted in the round-ups of victims, but they started with non-nationals first. The French authorities detained people before their deportation to the death camps. The 'round ups' and deportations are particularly well documented by historians. In Holland, the government authorities were 'instructed' to carry on as usual to maintain their country, but unfortunately, this had an impact on those who were trying to escape deportation. The story of Anne Frank illustrates the horrors of the occupation. Unlike in the east, the vast majority of the population did not involve themselves but stood back and did nothing.

The author illustrates the dangers of occupation by foreign forces that any number of people will 'collaborate' albeit unknowingly with the occupiers' aims and objectives due to their own bias and beliefs. This was the method used in some eastern European states by the Germans. It leads one to postulate, what would have happened in the UK if the invasion had occurred following Dunkirk in 1940? Also, the author is quite even-handed in illustrating that anti-Semitism is not the sphere of one political dimension but all political dimensions.

Maybe a suitable subtitle would be The Holocaust A Warning from History, as history tends to repeat itself, and anti-Semitism and minority persecution continues to this day and has been repeated in Europe, Africa, and South-East Asia since 1945.

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