Auschwitz 835

I was involved in the organisation of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, while First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw. The 50th did not receive anything like the media coverage given to the 70th, of which more later.

Senior British visitors to Poland invariably included a concentration camp on their itinerary, and from escorting people around I visited camps a great deal more often than I would have wished. I found the experience appalling and desolate. The first I ever saw was Majdanek and I recall that I just had to sit helpless and shivering for some time. One thing the experience left me with – including meeting survivors and both Polish and German eye-witnesses, and seeing the architects’ plans for camps – was a contempt for those who claim the whole thing did not happen, or was an accident, or was small scale.

It in no way diminishes the genocidal attack on the Jews to remember that a vast number of Poles also died in the camps, as well as gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled and disparate political prisoners. I tried sometimes to diminish the horror I felt at involvement with the camps, with attempts at humour. I was present at a meeting listing the guests of honour; the President of Lithuania was included. I whispered that he was coming to represent the camp guards. That was offensive, and I apologise. But there is a real problem that to this day Eastern Europe – including Poland itself – has not come to terms with historical truth about collaboration with anti-Jewish genocide and other attacks on minorities. I recommend this website, which tackles these issues very honestly and is well worth a lengthy browse.

It requires bigotry not to be able to understand why nationalist resistance movements against Russian occupation became allied with Germany during World War II. That would be reprehensible only in the same sense that allied collaboration with Stalin might be reprehensible, but for the added factor of enthusiastic collaboration with genocidal and master race programmes and fascist ideology. That is what makes the glorification of Eastern European nationalist figures from this period generally inappropriate.

I fear however that the real reason that the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz received so much more coverage than the 50th is a media desire to reinforce the narrative of the War on Terror and Western policy in the Middle East by invoking the spectre of massive anti-Semitism. There have been isolated but deplorable, apparently anti-Semitic attacks of a small-scale terrorist nature in France and Belgium in recent years. But to conflate this into stories of a wave of popular anti-Semitism in Europe is a nonsense. Maureen Lipman’s claim that she may have to leave the UK is not just silly but disingenuous. I do not believe she feels in personal danger of attack – there is absolutely no reason why she should – she is rather making a political point.

There are two factors which could exacerbate anti-Semitism at present. One is the appalling behaviour of Israel and its indefensible action in continually seizing Palestinian land and using its military superiority to dominate and occasionally massacre Palestinians. Regrettably, there are a very small minority of people who wrongly blame Jews in general for the actions of Israel.

The second factor is of course the terrible economic hardship wrought across the whole world by irresponsible banking practices, and the fact that the bankers luxury lifestyles were maintained at the cost of everybody else. There are still a tiny minority of people stuck in the medieval mindset associating banking with the Jewish community. There is in fact a very plausible argument that if any “race” has a disproportionate influence on the development and character of international banking since the mid eighteenth century, it is the Scots! But those who see banking as a racial issue are nutters.

You could construct an argument from these factors, and you could identify that anti-Semitic people do exist. They certainly do. They dominate the very small category of people who get banned even from this free speech blog. But are their opinions intellectually respectable, promoted in the mainstream or able to be expressed openly without fear of either social or legal consequences? No, no and no. Anti-semites are fortunately a tiny and strange minority. I might add that in my numerous and frequent social contacts in the British Muslim community, I have never encountered anti-Semitism (unlike, say, Poland and Russia where I encountered casual anti-Semitism quite frequently).

The final point, is of course, the conflation of anti-zionism with anti-Semitism. That seems to me the fundamental design of the media campaign exaggerating the scale of anti-Semitism at the moment. Yes, we must always remember the terrible warnings from history and it is right to remember those who died in the concentration camps, Jewish, Polish, Romany, Gay, Communist or any other category. But we should be aware of those who wish to manipulate the powerful emotions of horror thus evoked, for present objectives of the powerful.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

835 thoughts on “Auschwitz

1 2 3 28
  • Uzbek in the UK

    I still think that is it very USEFUL to be reminded and thus remember what we (humans) are capable of. And not only we are capable of creating ideas that enlightens but when it comes to death we are capable of arranging it in truly industrial level.

    And you are right of course, there are many more anti-Semites in Europe (especially in Eastern Europe including/especially in Russia) than in Muslim World. Many Muslim states do not have diplomatic relations with Israel but on casual level you find a lot more anti-Semitism coming from Poles, Russians or Ukrainians (especially if you look at tones of anti-Semitic jokes each of this cultures have).

  • pete fairhurst

    Very well put Craig. The conflation of anti-zionism with anti-semitism is a very clever trick of the zionists. And the mainstream media does seem to be overwhelmingly zionist, as do most uk politicians. Which is why the counterbalance of bloggers like yourself is so important if one is to retain a balanced perspective.

    I am married to a jew, and hence my 3 children are technically jewish, because their mother is jewish, although they are not practising, and nor is my wife. But I am vehemently anti-zionist too and so I find this conflation very frustrating! I am not anti-semitic.

    I think that zionism and nazism are bastard twins if truth be told. They have many characteristics in common:
    * the belief in the superiority of their own race/ethnicity
    * an obsession with blood and racial purity
    * a phenomenal propensity for violence
    * an interest in the occult
    And more [Thanks VineyardSaker]

    And yet zionism always seems to get a free pass, whereas nazism is, quite rightly, vilified.

    So I am sure that you are correct when you say “But we should be aware of those who wish to manipulate the powerful emotions of horror thus evoked, for present objectives of the powerful.”

  • RobG

    I bet they loved you in the Foreign Office.

    It seems to be generally agreed that Pope Urban II, when he kicked off the First Crusade in 1095, began a thousand year tradition of organized attacks on the Jews of Europe.

    Who are those nuns at Auschwitz?

  • Ronald Thomas West

    Well said Mr Murray. As well, I would respectfully point out the ‘holocaust’ of present media fascination is but one holocaust in many, 6 million deaths in the Congo of recent decades, the Armenian genocide, the Native American holocaust, and many more, not least of which is the staggering rate of ongoing murders of women throughout our present-day world.

    The singling out of Hitler’s efforts in this regard should not detract from these other events or somehow come across as the ‘most worthy’ of remembrance as though one ethnic people targeted should be more valued than another.

    At the end of the day, there is immense hypocrisy in those western leaders, temporal and spiritual, who hold Auschwitz as an event ‘never to be repeated’ even as they lead institutions complicit in the murders of millions of Black Africans over the past three decades

  • BrianFujisan

    Charlie Hebdro hysteria… Cancels Martin Luther King Holiday weekend….. Sniper block buster film is out…all at same time… ..

    “And we spray-painted it on every building and walls we could,” Kyle wrote in his memoir, “American Sniper.” “We wanted people to know, we’re here and we want to fuck with you. …You see us? We’re the people kicking your ass. Fear us because we will kill you, motherfucker.”

    The book is even more disturbing than the film. In the film Kyle is a reluctant warrior, one forced to do his duty. In the book he relishes killing and war. He is consumed by hatred of all Iraqis. He is intoxicated by violence. He is credited with 160 confirmed kills, but he notes that to be confirmed a kill had to be witnessed, “so if I shot someone in the stomach and he managed to crawl around where we couldn’t see him before he bled out he didn’t count.”

  • Uzbek in the UK

    On separate but related note

    It is not often happens in present days (Vlad the Magnificent) Russia but yesterday (Russian) internet community was very critical to their God-sent leader.

    The reason is that Vlad the Supergrass decided to light a candle in Jewish Memorial Centre rather than attending commemorations of victims of Leningrad Blockade (which caused over a million death and horrors such as cannibalism amongst others). Even those internet portals which were known to blindly support Vlad the Chechens Butcher were critical of his preferences when Vlad the Gas/Oil Master who was born and breed in post-Blockade Leningrad decided to ‘bow to Jews’ as many portals put it than coming to pay respect to those (Russians) died in Leningrad.

    Perhaps it is just a coincidence but perhaps another example of widely acceptable anti-Semitism in present days Russia.

  • Pete

    Well said Craig- all of it. However I think you’re a little too rosy-tinted about modern British anti-semitism. Of course Maureen Lipman and anyone else who pretends they’re seriously thinking of quitting North London in fear of their lives is talking nonsense, and surely know they’re talking nonsense, and insulting the victims of real anti-semitism.

    Nevertheless, a marxist friend of mine- well up in Labour Party circles- did hear a friend of his- equally well up in London regional trades union leadership- asserting that “no Jews died on 9/11- they all had prior warning and absented themselves from work that day without a single one of them warning their non-Jewish colleagues.”

    Having met William Rodriguez, a hero of 9/11 (and a Muslim convert as it happens), I know this to be utter nonsense. But the guy’s audience were drinking it in, and my friend (although unconvinced) did not argue with him.

    The link you provided looks very interesting on the current, very sinister whitewashing of 1940s fascism. It looks like yet another problem which will creep up and bite us in the arse while mainstream “experts” look the other way.

  • Gavin

    I notice that Ephraim Borowski (Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities) is in the Herald today comparing the Assisted Suicide Bill to racist Nazi views that caused the holocaust. Clearly, a ridiculous statement, and this man is also one of those who purposely conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. In fact he resigned from the UCU in 2011 because it refused to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism which included rhetorical attacks on the state of Israel. The decent thing would be for Jewish “leaders” like Borowski to distance themselves from the state of Israel, not only because of the ethnic cleansing in Palestine, but as a pragmatic way to reduce misguided anti-Semitic attacks on Scottish Jews.

    Incidentally, I’m not sure why we was a member of the UCU in 2011. As I understand it, he was removed from his position as Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow many years earlier for awarding computer contracts to his brother-in-law. Perhaps he secured a post elsewhere.

  • Pete

    @RobG: Organised anti-semitism is a lot older than Pope Urban. Starts with the Gospels actually- the nonsense about Pilate letting “the Jews” decide whether Jesus or Barabbas should be crucified. Absolute nonsense as any historian of Roman law/politics would tell you, but it served to dump the blame onto the Jews rather than the Roman State, with which the early church (after its takeover by St Paul) wished to curry favour.

    @Pete Fairhurst. Lots of people are “interested in the occult” although I’ve never heard that Zionists ever were. So far as I’ve seen Zionists are either dogmatically religious or else utterly cynical about using a religion they don’t beleive in for their own political ends. The great majority of western occultists (of whom I know a great many) are left/libertarian in their political leanings.

    As regards the history of anti-semitism, I recommend a book called “The Jewish Century” by Slezkin I think. Very thoughtful and un-hysterical study, shows how the stereotypes applied to Jews are also applied to many similarly landless, mercantile, cosmopolitan ethnic groups.

  • Je

    Its the Zionists who want to conflate Jewish and Zionist. One of the strongest, most intelligent voices against Zionism is Neturei Karta.

    The role of Zionism in the Holocaust:

    One awful legacy of the Holocaust has been Germany’s unquestioning support for Israel ever since. Support that hasn’t been consistent with respect for law or human rights or decency towards the Palestinians. Germany’s support for Israel has amounted to a second crime. But against Palestine.

    They’ve even supplied (and part payed for) Israel’s nuclear armed submarines. In contravention of the non-proliferation treaty and their own laws.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    To understand Vlad the Botox Face’s preference attending Jewish Memorial centre visit one need to look at present days hysteria that Vlad the Macho Man was made clear that his presence in Poland will be (at best) ill-tempered and that it was Red Army which liberated Auschwitz. Try explaining present days Russians that Red Army of those days had little to do with present days Russian (and even less with present days Vlad the NATO conspiracy theorist) which initiated civil war in neighbouring Ukraine (where at list third of Red Army were Ukrainians) but hysteria in Russia is of colossal size. Kremlin’s strategists and PR consultants decided to create Vlad the Saviour’s very own Holocaust commemorations thus Vlad the Illisionist’s preference to ‘bow to Jews’ instead of attending Leningrad Blockade’s commemorations.

    It does not of course explains the fact that in the last 15 years (accurate tenure of Vlad the Crimean’s Kremlin’s residence) number of fascist and ultra-right organisations have grown from 2 to over 150 and that xenophobia and killings of migrant workers is something of normal day to day life in present days Russia.

  • Je

    Pete – For some historical perspective I recommend you read the early books of the Bible and what happened the the Medianites and other tribes the Israelites enslaved or slaughtered. Its all trumpeted there in glowing terms.

    To talk about Ancient Roman actions as anti-semitism is absurd. The Roman conquered. Everybody they could. They allowed freedom of worship. But if you revolted you were slaughtered. The inhabitants of Judea got the same deal as everyone else.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    pete fairhurst

    “And yet zionism always seems to get a free pass, whereas nazism is, quite rightly, vilified.”

    However; you should also mention quite few differences too. Zionists do not imprison and torture those in opposition to them. Thus non-Zionist Jews live happily in Israel along with Orthodox Jews and Zionists.

    Zionists do not call (not yet at least) for extermination of any particular group of people.

    Zionists do not have hunger for world domination.

    Do not get me wrong I do not support Zionism or land grabbing but I just thought that for these very reasons Nazism and Zionist (although they have similarities you have mentioned) are somewhat different ideologies.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Ba’al Zevul

    You are right of course. And I should read my own native Russian better than I did. I reread some of the portals and noticed that criticism was not for that Vlad the KGB man was not in Leningrad but that he did light the candle in Jewish Memorial Centre.

    Well I guess it makes case of widespread anti-Semitism in Russia even worse.

    And just to note that Vlad Terrorists’ Nightmare went to Leningrad on 27 January and not 26 as you have mentioned.

  • Anon

    “The final point, is of course, the conflation of anti-zionism with anti-Semitism. That seems to me the fundamental design of the media campaign exaggerating the scale of anti-Semitism at the moment.”

    The fundamental point of Israel is to provide a safe haven for Jews from the the kind of anti-Semitism that resulted in six million of their kind being slaughtered in extermination camps within living memory. To deny the Jews a land of their own in which to exist is anti-Semitic, especially as so many of your so-called ‘anti-Zionists’ are in fact anti-Jew obsessives, as a cursory reading of the comments on your own blog will confirm.

  • craig Post author


    I am perfectly happy for the Israelis to live in Israel, provided they dismantle the whole apparatus of racially discriminative legislation and categorisation of citizens by race, and end their ethnically based immigration policy, and hand back all the illegally occupied territory.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    To give the Jews someone else’s land in which to exist is anti-someone-else-ic.


  • Ba'al Zevul

    27 January and not 26 as you have mentioned.

    The Moscow Times said Monday, which was the 26th, but I’m not arguing with either of you.

  • Anon

    I don’t doubt it, Craig.

    When so many anti-Semites hide their dislike of Jews behind ‘anti-zionism’ then it’s hardly surprising the two get conflated. Just look at some of the wretched people involved in the various Palestine solidarity campaigns. They spend their lives obsessing about ‘zionists’, blame ‘zionists’ for every evil in the world, believe ‘zionists’ start all the wars, control all the world’s finances, carry out false-flag attacks and blame them on others. Are we really, honestly supposed to believe that ‘zionist’ is not code for ‘Jew’?

  • Anon


    You called for protests outside UK synagogues during the recent Gaza conflict, so what does that make your ‘anti-zionism’?

  • Miss Castello

    Usbek In The UK; 12:42 pm

    “Zionists do not imprison and torture those in opposition to them.

    Zionists do not call (not yet at least) for extermination of any particular group of people.

    Zionists do not have hunger for world domination.”

    Are you completely & utterly insane?

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Miss Castello

    “Are you completely & utterly insane?”

    Not as I am aware of. Examples of opposite to what I have said, please?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    It makes me spot on the money, Anon. Gaza is a Zionist exercise. Even you can’t claim that nonzionist Jews approve of this miniature recreation of the Warsaw ghetto. My hope is that the weight of humanitarian Jewish opinion will prevail against the casual barbarity of the Israeli regime. So let that opinion be heard, inside, and yes, outside the synagogues.

    I’m not proposing anything I wouldn’t advocate for Christian churches, btw. Remember the Occupy protest outside St. Pauls?

    Nest time a murderous attack is made on the largely defenceless civilian population of Gaza, another tenth of its infrastructure is reduced to rubble, and despite the token noises made by governments just outside the hearing of their noble ally, Israel, money supplies and relief aid are still embargoed indefinitely from reaching their intended recipients…then I’ll probably be even more furious and frustrated, and call for something even more focussed on the people who might, just possible, be able to stop the insanity. That is; Jews in general.

    I’m getting fucking sick of sending money to MAP to sort out the damage the Israelis do, and can well afford to repair themselves. To say nothing of their very wealthy diaspora backers.

    Now fuck off.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Ba’al Zevul

    Saudis (their Royals to be precise) are not perfect, but what state in Middle East (and in the Middle East it means what regime) would you consider to be friend with? You would not seriously consider UK/US or anyone else to mess with Saudis (Holly place for most of the Muslims in whole world)? And then oil does make even this complicated issue even more complicated.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Ba’al Zevul

    How about Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel? Israeli response is very disproportionate but what government would do nothing? And if, how long such government could govern?

  • Miss Castello

    Anon: @1:27 & 1:23

    “Just look at some of the wretched people involved in the various Palestine solidarity campaigns”.

    Of which I am proud to be one of them. Try ‘looking’ at yourself, you “wretched” coward.
    You don’t even have the balls to type your own name.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    How about Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel?

    Removing the incentive to do so might be a start. And showing any sign whatever, beyond pious words for the Western media, of a genuine interest in reaching a fair agreement with the Palestinians would certainly help. That is not on the agenda, and the Palestinians realise this.

    Re. Saudi – we have a long involvement with Saudi Arabia, and I’m not proposing we end it. Indeed, I’m rather of the view that it can only be ruled by a very strong and crafty hand, practiced at feeding or assassinating hungry faction leaders (like Iraq could, and like Syria could). But I can’t honestly damn Israel on the one hand without acknowledging that Saudi is not in the forefront of human rights either. Which is not to advocate the removal of the regime.

  • Miss Castello

    Usbek @1:37pm

    The Internet’s crawling with them. Fuck off & find your own. I’m not your lackey.

1 2 3 28

Comments are closed.