Holocaust Memorial Day,

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Most of us know at least something of the history of those events during the Second World War and there are also other appalling episodes of genocide subsequently such as Rwanda. Here is a link to personal testimonies.My only story is to illustrate my own foolishness. Shortly before Christmas last year I met an elderly lady at work. She had a European accent (sounded German to me). To attempt conversation the bold Turgon said “Are you German madam?” She said no she was from Czechoslovakia. Not to be defeated I said: Ah maybe I have insulted you unless you came from the Sudetenland? She smiled and said no she was Czech but obviously I knew a bit about European history (flattery always works with me). I said that I clearly was not winning and that indeed I probably had insulted her and I apologised as she might not be very pro German.

You know what is coming next.

She just smiled; did not seem annoyed or flustered and said she had spent 3½ years in a concentration camp. I (feeling very, very embarrassed) said: You would be Jewish then I allow. She said yes and said there are very few of us left who were there. She showed me the place where the tattoo had been removed from her arm. I felt extremely humbled by my own foolishness, the enormity of what had happened to her and her graciousness.

I guess quite soon there will be no one left who was there. I used to think Holocaust Memorial Day was a bit of a gimmick. I had decided it was not some years ago but it brings it home to you when you meet the survivors.

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