LibLink: Nick Clegg remembering the Holocaust is the greatest antidote to extremism

In the Independent, Nick Clegg writes movingly of the need for constant reminders of the horrors of the Holcaust. This follows his recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with students organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust:

The constant threats of racism, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism still lurk every day. Anti-Semitism has been described as a light sleeper. Cemeteries are still vandalised, discredited conspiracy theories are spread over the internet, Jewish people are still attacked in this country.
…Remembering what happens when warped ideologies and prejudice go unchecked is not just a history lesson but the greatest antidote today to anti-Semitism and extremism of all kinds.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • …Remembering what happens when warped ideologies and prejudice go unchecked is not just a history lesson but the greatest antidote today to anti-Semitism and extremism of all kinds…………………………….Yes, the warped ideology that began this government’s attack on the most vulnerable, the sick and disabled, the first target of the Nazis who also softened up the population by hate campaigns in the media, cue the Daily Mail.. The next target is the low paid and part time workers who will have their benefits sanctioned under UC. They will not be able to take back their under 25 offspring with family in tow who have lost their jobs will they? Any space under that bridge for those scroungers?

  • Richard Shaw 22nd Oct '12 - 3:38pm

    Ah, just 15mins taken for Godwin’s Law to be fulfilled here on LDV. It’s rather twisted and downright offensive to compare the Lib Dems or the Coalition to the Nazis, especially given the experiences of Nick’s family during WW2.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Oct '12 - 3:53pm

    Why sigh? Why not argue?

  • Nick Clegg is right, in that, we need constant reminders of the horrors of the Holocaust. And we are told, that one of the benefits of the EU project is that it has created a kind of economic family, that has protected us for 50 years, from such horrors, wars, and conflict in Europe. So why have those EU safeguards broken down, and given rise to new fascist horrors emerging in Europe?

  • Helen Dudden 22nd Oct '12 - 9:28pm

    There is always the threat of extreme behaviour, I find it sad that it relates to a form of religion that is older that time.

  • Making a comparison to Nazi Germany is relevant. On one hand you shed crocodile tears over that but are party to some of the most right wing policies. The first being your ministers actually cheering Osborne on the cuts to the vulnerable and going along with the ‘scrounger’ mentality. The British population is being whipped up to hate the so called ‘scroungers’. disability hate crime is on the rise and many would like to see those on benefits starve. (Read the gutter press). Open your eyes and act now. Look at Greece. Perhaps truth hurts.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Oct '12 - 1:08pm

    What happened in Germany that we are talking about here came from the brutality of the “obey the leader” style of government. This style of government was widely supported because it as believed to be more effective and more modern than fuddy-duddy style decisions by committees. Having decisions made by committees with compromises, some people openly expressing disagreement, was felt to be closed and hidden from the people, whereas putting power clearly into the hands of one person was open because everyone could see where the decisions were being made, and there weren’t any of these nasty smoke-filled room compromises.

    Because of the sheer horror of what it eventually led to we find it hard to see how it got there, and how logical and not unkind or illiberal people helped get it there through what seemed to be sensible steps. Because in Germany this style of government was also mixed up with a racist element (not uncommon in those days – on the political left as well as the right, it was thought to be modern and scientific) we are perhaps too keen to look at modern racists supposing if it were to arise again it would come from there, and so miss where the desire for supposedly efficient and “accountable” (because what could be more accountable than one man making all the decisions?) “grab them by the scruffs” style government may be welling up elsewhere.

  • I agree with Nick and Anne.
    The reason the Holocaust is important is the way it relates to the modern day. It is a lesson for the future.

    Look at the rise of food banks. Did you know that if you become unemployed, your benefits that you have paid for 30 years will not even cover food and bills?
    Do you know about the rising numbers of working people who are dependent on housing benefit to afford a roof over their head – which is now being cut.

    When a government attacks the vulnerable rather than working for the common good, it is a dangerous time for all of us.

  • Furthermore, the way unemployed and disabled people are being pushed into forced, unpaid work correlates directly with “abeit macht frei” concentration camps.

    I hope Nick will take a strong stand against it and make the case for a fair welfare system, and a living wage for all.

  • It is also worth remembering – and apologising for – the origins of the concentration camp (Brits during the Boer War, and used later, no doubt in various colonial contexts, but certainly in the Mau Mau period in Kenya in the 50s). Matthew is absolutely right about “the racist element” being more frequent 60, 70, 80 etc years ago. It is worth remembering that Churchill was the most dire, unreformed racist. So while we rightly condemn Hitler, we need to be aware, and regularly mention and apologise for, our own history, certainly as bad as Germany’s.

  • It’s unfortunate that this thread has managed to conflate racism and concentration camps with attacks on benefits, both in work and out of work. The latter, of course, is something this party cannot be proud of, given our principles and our campaigning history. Many valued members have left because of the apparent abandonment of compassion and defence of the underdog by the party.

  • Another invocation of Godwin’s Law 🙄 and I think you’ll find the word is Arbeit. I suggest you go and read some Primo Levi; then you might actually understand what you are writing.

    Luckily the utter crassness of your comment precludes any further engagement.

  • @ Caracatus ‘What a shame Anne apparently can’t tell the difference between death camps and universal credit. It really reminds me of the ravings of Nick Griffin and David Irving’…………………..The death camps came into being after the population had been softened up with hate campaigns and people believing that certain sections had no worth or the right to eat. As CP says the enforced labour for even ill people smacks of arbeit macht frei. This government is extending workfare to those in the WRAG even though being in that group means they are still ill for INDEFINITE periods of time. Are workcamps the next step but of course sold to a gullible public as a good thing? In 2010 Duncan Smith on TV said ‘Work makes you free’ Translate that into German.

  • Tim13 – yes, concentration camps were invented in the Boer War, but the deaths were due to incompetence not due to a deliberate policy of execution or working to death. They were a terrible mistake, born of a desire to isolate Boer guerrillas from thet population literally by concentrating them away from their isolated farms. Mismanagement
    And indifference led to the deaths, not a belief in extermination.

    By all means criticize the crime, but do not conflate it with Nazi Germany or the many communist equivalents

  • Anne – if you’d read any history you would know that the motto at Auschwitz was the sort of sick joke beloved of the Nazis. The freedom earned by those individuals was their death.

    By all means argue against government policy but comparisons to Nazism just makes you look crass.

  • @Tabman
    I am proud to invoke Godwin’s law as too many are forgetting how easily people start on the slippery slope and need to be reminded constantly. Why the discussion is thought over is because people do not want to face up to the comparisons or their own failings. You should thank us, I think we are the ones who will never forget.

  • Anne – I’m a lib dem party member, so by implication you are calling me a Nazi. If that’s not a personal attack, I don’t know what is.

  • Anne – again, if you had read any history you will know that work camps were used in the 1930s in many countries as a form of welfare, including Britain and the US.

    The aim of the Nazi camps was to use captives as forced labour and to work them to death. I ask you again – are you seriously suggesting the government wants to murder its own citizens?

  • Thank you, mod.

  • tabman – the actions of the camp commander(s) in the Mau Mau period certainly had more in common with the Nazis. I think we should be very careful before trying to throw off the Nazi comparisons with British policy and actions entirely (and I am not talking about benefits here!) Very easy to lay into others without looking at the “beam in our own eye” you know.

  • Tim13 – I haven’t done much reading about the Mau Mau so can’t really comment. The major point I was trying to make is that l agree that there is much to criticize British history, but you should do so by addressing it in its own terms. You should also look at it in relative terms in comparison to the accepted standards of the time rather than just to the very different standards of today.

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