A summer, many years ago…


A timeless summer holiday picture of the type that you might take this summer. It could be the beach at my hometown of Rhyl, or any other beach in the northern or southern hemisphere.

When teaching the rise of Nazism in Germany to students my constant concern was the idea that it couldn’t have happened here in the UK, or in fact anywhere. The students were absolutely confident that fascism could not take root in the UK. I was less sure.
Living close to the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, we were able to bring in a Holocaust survivor to recount her story of her experience in Nazi Germany. I was pleased to see that the students were incensed that she could have been treated like that. It gave me some hope for the future.

The events of the last year have confirmed to me that the veneer of civilisation is very thin and that there was nothing specifically German about the rise of fascism. Fascism can overwhelm any democracy given the right circumstances, which include, scapegoats for misfortune, economic downturns, a manipulative and cynical government and a press ready to trade in propaganda. By that reckoning, it is only the efforts of good people that are keeping us from falling into a downward spiral in this country.

This picture really alarmed me, a great family picture of the Frank girls enjoying a beach holiday in the late nineteen thirties, unaware of how quickly events would overtake them. Anna is lying in the sand, smiling.

For the triumph of evil it is sufficient that good people do nothing.
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