War made Holocaust possible

ALBERT Smith’s questions (“Disgraceful slur on brave”) are serious ones and deserve an answer: As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, the threat of German invasion arose from the fact that we had declared war on Germany. Ireland did not, so Irish cities were never bombed nor, so far as I know, did the Irish fear a German invasion.

It is at least arguable that it was the war itself that made the holocaust politically possible. When wars begin, pretty well any atrocity becomes permissible. (who in 1939 could have envisioned Hiroshima?).

In 1939 Hitler was not planning to murder all the Jews he could get his hands on. However, barbarously and unjustly they had been treated in Germany in the 1930s, it was only in 1941 that the holocaust began.

Our duty in the 1930s was to allow unrestricted asylum to all Jews but, like the US, we still operated a quota system.

Similarly, as anyone who reads Anna Funder’s fine novel, “All That I Am”, will know, in the 1930s the Foreign Office went out of its way to harass German exiles in this country who were working against Hitler.

When Robert Graves the distinguished poet and novelist, was dying, he was in mental anguish about the Germans he had murdered (his word and he insisted on it) nearly 60 years before when he was an officer in the First World War.

Killing other people rather than playing football with them, as both the German and Allied soldiers did at Christmas 1914, is unnatural and some people can go mad at the memory of having been forced to become killers by the state.

All his life, Graves played the hard boiled ex-soldier. Near death, he revealed the guilt that he had been trying to hide from himself.

I would have liked to take up Mr Grove’s point that war and self-defence against a murderous personal assault are basically the same thing. But that would make this letter far too long.

Malcolm Pittock Breightmet

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