Heed the lessons of history

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp from the Nazis, perhaps it will be helpful to reflect on the experiences of an ethnic-religious minority in Europe over a period of a decade until 1945…

“It was a difficult time for Jewish families, as suddenly the law no longer protected us and overnight we lost our civil rights… Jewish children were thrown out of Hungarian schools, so right away we had no choice but to concentrate on hunkering down and trying not to bring attention to ourselves…”[1. Tales from Auschwitz SurvivorsThe Guardian ]

I cannot envisage a return to the dark days of World War Two in Western Europe — certainly not a programme to round up minorities en masse.

But a pervasive atmosphere of far reaching discrimination? Alas, I believe that could be on the cards.

I cannot help but fear that the broad sweeping legislation which the Home Secretary is currently rushing through parliament in the form of the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill will unfairly deprive a contemporary ethnic-religious minority of its rights.

We could say that something must be done to protect the security of the nation at a time of heightened concerns about terrorism; that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

But reflecting on the experience of Jewish communities in Europe during the early part of the twentieth century, the thoughts which keep me from my sleep tonight are these: let’s hope that our leaders really have learned the lessons of 70 years ago.

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