It was 75 years ago yesterday that the advancing Red Army reached the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau to make the terrible discovery of the genocide that had been practiced there. The site had an eerie quiet about it: most able-bodied prisoners had been rounded up and were being forcibly marched further West. Hospital patients had been shot dead in their beds. All around was grim evidence of man’s inhumanity to man.
The track leading to the Auschwitz II - Birkenau camp: this led directly to the gas chambers
There were hundreds of such camps, mainly in Eastern Europe, but Auschwitz stood out as the very worst: more than a million human beings, most of them Jews, were murdered there. So it is the anniversary of that one liberation that has now become Holocaust Memorial Day. In commemoration, events were held across Europe yesterday.
Most prominent among these was at the camp itself, and in acknowledgement of its importance, Spain sent its King and Queen, the Netherlands its Prime Minister, Germany and Israel their Presidents. But our own alleged Prime Minister was not there. Nor were any of his ministers. It was so glaring an omission, even the Daily Mail noticed.
The UK was represented by the Duchess of Cornwall - and Eric Pickles. Still, at least Bozo turned up to the London Holocaust Memorial Day event. And as the BBC has reported, he “told those listening he felt a ‘deep sense of shame’ that anti-Semitism continued in the UK today … The PM said Britain seemed ‘to be dealing with a resurgence of the virus of anti-Semitism’, saying: ‘I know that I carry a responsibility as prime minister to do everything possible to stamp it out.’” How might he discharge that responsibility?
Well, he could have already shown his commitment to stamping out anti-Semitism by dealing with the outbreaks of it within his own party, which he and his predecessor Theresa May did not. Outbreaks such as Suella Braverman using the anti-Semitic “Cultural Marxism” trope. Or Priti Patel - now, apparently, Home Secretary - talking pointedly of a “North London Metropolitan Elite”, which has made many Jewish voices uneasy.
He could have admonished either or both of those individuals, but he did not. Nor has he slapped down Michael “Oiky” Gove for conflating “Jews” and “Israel”, in contravention of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. And he hasn’t even shown signs of disciplining Jacob Rees Mogg for his anti-Semitic “Illuminati” smear of John Bercow and Oliver Letwin, or the same MP’s assertion that George Soros was behind the Remain campaign.
This matters: allowing anti-Semitism a free pass (which should just not happen) begins by casual smears like those going without admonishment. The “Cultural Marxism” reference is a particularly nasty one, as it partly derives from the Nazi-era “Kulturbolschewismus”. That’s the same Nazis that ran Germany, and ran all those concentration camps.
Bozo wants to show respect for the memory of all those who were murdered during what is now often called The Shoah, he should show that his own conduct - with all its baggage of casual racism and specifically Islamophobia - has been cleaned up, and that his party does not continue its high-profile lapses into casually using anti-Semitic tropes.
As well as sending a real minister to Auschwitz. Because we must never forget.
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