Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jersey Holocaust Memorial Day 2014 - still seeking the baddies?

Once again Holocaust Day has been marked in Jersey with some short speeches, a few prayers and wreath-laying.

For the families of the 21 with Jersey origins who died in the “death camps” there are personal and painful reasons for participating in these proceedings but why members of the government and other VIPs turn out each year is not so clear.

This year we were told that MIND was laying a wreath for the first time in recognition of all the physically and mentally sick people who were persecuted by the “Nazis” and Senator Routier, who has a disabled son, was chosen to represent them.
Quite why his son or any other disabled person was not allowed to lay the wreath was not explained and it may not be relevant because the Senator has had his own health challenges.
Yet he declined to be interviewed for this blog on the ground that it was too emotional and he would not be drawn into the wider deficiencies of the prevailing and active discrimination against disabled persons in Jersey.
Nor would he comment on Jersey’s continuing failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People or the fact that even Guernsey has now agreed to a whole Strategy on Disability which includes Ratification of International standards and many other progressive measures for that Bailiwick….

Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Gorst also declined to be interviewed in order to update last year’s somewhat inadequate Human Rights message as did the Dean who spoke at the indoor ceremony, said a prayer and lit a candle as usual. His brief address included the rhetorical question – What am I doing here?

The Dean meant at the ceremony rather than here on earth (I presume) but if there is any confusion he still refused to be drawn into a discussion in front of my little camera on the ground that he had to leave to attend a meeting.
Strangely he was talking to influential friends in the miserable outside weather long after I had retreated to somewhere warmer but I still failed to find anybody prepared to speak on camera…

It was the “history” aspect that I particularly wanted to examine since a special wreath laying guest was an historian who had only recently discovered that his grandfather from Jersey had died in a prison camp for failing to surrender a radio. His “crime” had been revealed by the Jersey Attorney General and the St Saviour Police during 1943 and so his fate was sealed along with others of the 21 who died because information was supplied by locals to the occupying forces….

It was this omission from the 2014 Memorial proceedings that bothered me because it is evident that more and more information is leaking out from restricted archives and other sources in Jersey and elsewhere. So just when and how will Channel Islanders deal with the more unpleasant facts of collusion? Who will ultimately decide whether the names of collaborators should be made as public as the identities of those who died or were persecuted as a result of their unfortunate actions?

Channel TV a few years ago, named the two sisters who shopped a whole family for listening to a radio during the Occupation. Their selfish action caused a brother and sister to be sent to the death camps and only the man returned.

In other countries there was immediate post-war justice and rough retribution for those who collaborated. Trials are still taking place for those few ancient survivors who have long-concealed war crimes to answer for.
But nothing has been done so far in the Channel Islands.

As always, it is easier to blame somebody else for the ills in society rather than looking too closely at ourselves.
Thus The Germans aka NAZIS are a very convenient label to stick on the wrongs that occurred during and after the 1930s and it is interesting at least that the various speakers listed the victim groups – Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, Disabled and Sick, Gypsies, Homosexuals – but in every instance could not utter the word - Communists….

It was the Communists after all who started this particular deathly and discriminatory ball rolling in the 1930s and the rest of the world did little or nothing then because their extermination satisfied a wider capitalist game plan….

Unfortunately, after a brief dalliance with respectability it is the Communists who are once again even more “despised” than all the other groups put together in our Capitalist dominated world.

So, although the speakers such as the Dean claimed that we are ALL children of the same God and that we have to respect the rights even of those that we do not agree with – he and they do not really mean it….

History has a strange ability to reveal itself. Secrets have a habit of seeping into the public domain.
Last year there were 22 names on the Jersey Holocaust roll-call but one has now been removed because the person did not die.
Even a trained historian did not realise that his grandfather was a victim along with so many millions of others from diverse groups and world-wide origins.

The record – officially or otherwise – is constantly subject to revision.
Jersey’s Holocaust Memorial ceremony needs to extend its terms of reference soon if it is to be taken as seriously as the subject deserves.


  1. I cannot see the story "Channel TV a few years ago, named the two sisters who shopped a whole family for listening to a radio during the Occupation" anywhere on the CTV website which has all stories over the last few years. Please give me a source please so I can check it.

  2. It was notable that the speakers at the Holocaust commemoration all avoided mentioning the very first people that the Nazi’s sought to victimise. No it wasn’t the Jews, it was their rivals for the working class streets of German cities – the KPD – the German Communist Party.

    Their arrest and incarceration was quickly followed by that of trade unionists and socialists of all stripes. Then came the Liberals and everyone else whose politics they despised.

    If memorials can have names omitted or added, perhaps next years speakers will give a little nod in the way of the Nazi’s most implacable enemies – the organised militants of the German working class.

  3. Senator Paul Routier emailed as follows;
    Your posting on the Holocaust Memorial Day has be pointed out to me by a friend. The organisation that I represented was not MIND. Please remove that error and any response to my family. You have no idea what upset you can cause if people read the content of that blog.
    Many thanks
    Senator Paul Routier MBE.