Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thank You!

THE first public celebration I ever attended was a street party to celebrate V-E day. It was 65 years ago on May 8, 1945 that Germany surrendered, and also that British troops liberated Belsen, seeing for themselves the horrors produced by Nazism.

We got the photographs of near-skeletal men and piles of corpses, as well as the guards who were responsible. But I thought this more cheerful picture of children, still behind the wire but free, fed and clothed, would make a change.

It seems an appropriate time to celebrate today the news that the British National Party's Great White Hope in Barking, east London, Nick Griffin was pushed into third place in Thursday's election, behind the Tory, while Labour's Margaret Hodge increased her vote, to a healthy 16,000 majority.

Holocaust-sceptic Griffin got 6,620 votes, which is 6,620 too many, and he still has his seat in the European Parliament to fall back on. But it is cheering to see him get a set back, as it was to see some local youth taking on his heavy supporters.

The BNP also lost all 12 council seats they held in Barking and Dagenham, where Labour has completely swept the council.

Meanwhile, a friend in neighbouring Redbridge cheerfully reports that her area is now "BNP free" after Thursday's council elections. Labour increased its vote there and its share of council seats rose from 14 to 26, which should also make things awkward for the Tories. There is still work to be done in nearby parts of Essex where the BNP is campaigning against Gypsy travellers.

But it is good to see them being driven back from working class areas.

I was not yet three years old when we had our VE day party, and can't say I remember it, though I doubtless enjoyed the bright bunting, and tucked into my trifle.

The war was still on in the Pacific, where a relative of my Mum's died in Japanese captivity, though as I have now learned, it was as a result of American bombing. The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still to come.

In later years, I would discuss the war with comrades who held that it was an imperialist war, and only incidentally led to liberation from fascism. I can't say they are wrong. And nor were all the atrocities committed by the Axis side.

All the same, had it gone differently, those children in our pic above would have followed others to their death. So would I, instead of partying in our Salford street on jelly and ice cream.

So I want to thank all those who fought and defeated the Nazis back then in 1945.

And also to thank and congratulate everyone who campaigned and voted against them last week in Barking and Dagenham.

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At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful picture as well as a terrible one. It was a good choice, as a change from the grim pictures we're familiar with. Where does it come from?

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I rook the pic from the internet, but am not sure about its provenance, though it is said to have been taken by British troops.
I don't know whether this was on the day of liberation or after, when the camp still housed displaced persons. The children do look well-nourished and clothed, in contrast to the usual scenes, as you say.
I thought it might be nicer to use a more cheerful picture for that particular blog posting, to fit the tone, but from a documentation point of view it might be interesting to check out details, and how authentic the photo is - that does look a little like Anne Frank in the front! I am in touch with someone who specialises in looking at Holocaust photographs and their details, and might try her opinion on this one.


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