Thursday, October 15, 2009

British Waffen-SS Legion? Not likely...


Unoccupied Britain

Oct 15th 2009

It looks simpler from across the Channel

TWEAK history a bit. Imagine that in 1940 Hitler and Stalin divide Britain between them. Both occupying powers behave abominably but in different ways. After a rigged election, Scotland is declared part of the Soviet Union. Stalin imposes a one-party state and planned economy with a terrifying secret-police apparatus, liquidating normal life and decapitating the country. Tens of thousands of people—lawyers, teachers, businessmen, priests, journalists, and even philatelists—are woken in the small hours, given ten minutes to pack and then deported to slave labour camps in northern Norway. Few ever return.

South of the border, the Nazi military dictatorship rounds up England’s Jews, supported by local anti-Semitic collaborators. Industry is commandeered by the Nazi war machine. Anti-Nazi activity is lethal; thousands are shipped off to work as forced labourers. Others, disgracefully, even volunteer as concentration-camp guards and for auxiliary police battalions in the hope of gaining privileges or settling scores. Life is dire, but for most of the non-Jewish population it is much less awful than in the Scottish Soviet Socialist Republic.

In 1941 Hitler attacks Stalin. As the Red Army flees Scotland, Jews suffer terrible pogroms. Many Scots blame them, quite unfairly, for being allied with the communists. (In fact, though many Scottish communists are indeed Jewish, Jews feature prominently among the “bourgeois elements” deported to Norway). Many Jews die of starvation or typhus in the Glasgow ghetto. Most are gassed in death camps, some on British soil, some further afield.

As the Nazis start losing the war they conscript thousands of teenagers into a “British legion” of the Waffen-SS. About one-third of this unit are volunteers, desperate to stave off another Soviet occupation at least for long enough for their families to escape to neutral Ireland. Some have ardently helped the Nazis. Despite last-ditch resistance, Soviet power is restored in Britain by 1944, with implacable vengeance. A doomed underground army fights on (its last partisan is killed only in 1975). Britain regains its freedom only when the evil empire collapses.

Digesting that historical trauma would take time. Britons’ views of their country’s SS troops would probably be rather ambiguous: few would call them heroes, but few would condemn them outright either. Many British people might focus more on their own suffering than that of the all-but vanished Jewish population. Outsiders would do well not to jump to conclusions. Stereotypes linking the Holocaust in Britain to “endemic anti-Semitism” before the war would clearly be ludicrously simplistic.

Amid the current row about the Conservative Party’s new alliance with Poland’s socially conservative Law and Justice party and Latvia’s nationalist Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party, British commentators would do well to bear some history in mind. Fatherland and Freedom (which has roots in the anti-Soviet dissident movement) says Latvian SS veterans have the right to pensions and public gatherings. Yet Jon Snow, a British television presenter, misleadingly dubbed the party “neo-Fascist”. Also on the same programme, he failed to challenge a British comedian, Stephen Fry, who deplored Poland’s history of “right-wing Catholicism”, terming it “deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on”.

Mr Fry is entitled to criticise Poland’s record on gay rights and the Tories’ choice of friends. But it is horribly unfair to mention Auschwitz (a death camp run by German Nazis in an occupied country) in the same breath. The million-plus Poles, both Gentile and Jewish, who perished there deserve better. And commentators from Britain, which escaped the war unoccupied, should try approaching other countries’ wartime history with more humility and less self-satisfaction.


Vaidas said...

A great analogy!

miks said...

Thank you, Mr. Lucas.

Bea said...

Well, yeah, Danes had their king who protested against singling out their Jews and suggested all Danes would go with the yellow stars. Where was the Lithuanian king? They didn't have any at the very time. Their last and only was from the middle of the XIII century. Nobody knew them, nobody cared, nobody believed the country had any chances if the Soviet Union would decide to become aggressive westward. Nobody were even nearly as well organized to protest against injustices in Lithuania as they were in Denmark. Especially not after Soviets assaulted them, banned all the organizations, put their members and leaders to jails. When Hitler's forces came, the Soviet people - the awful selfappointed occupants rulers - most aliens to the country or the local Jews fleeing the German Nazis - run East to the USSR, killing everyone they found time to kill of those they had put to the jails for being an activist of the bourgeois life... Every witness they didn't want to take East together was killed as well. Then German Nazis came to brainwash, manipulate, intimidate, humiliate, kill, send to concentration camps those who protested, to work to Germany those who were stronger, force to kill, etc.

Marju Tonisson said...

Fry apology:

"I take this opportunity to apologise now. I said a stupid, thoughtless and fatuous thing. It detracted from and devalued my argument, such as it was, and it outraged and offended a large group of people for no very good reason. I am sorry in all directions, and all the more sorry because it is no one’s fault but my own, which always makes it so much worse. And sorry because I didn’t have the wit, style, grace or guts to apologise at the first opportunity."

In defence of the Brits (and I'm not one of them) what prevails is ROOI - realisation of one's own idiocy. Now this is very rare in some other places - to admit one is wrong and even... apologise??? Yes, Stevie, you were an absolute co** for having said that! But at least he had the guts to turn around and publicly admit he was wrong. Bring on the rotten eggs until the guilt period lasts!

Carl Robert Jaakson said...

good analogy, really!

muuk said...

the story is exactly what happened in Estonia. What i am quite interested in is killing the Jews in Estonia, as i have heard many of them were from Poland and my family has not heard of any local jews killed but rather hiding. I am keen to know if there is a blockage in remembering the killings of local jews or it was'nt so widely spread at all in Estonia as in Riga for example. I cannot find the answer.

My grandfather was forced into german army by the age of 18 and he saw the camps in Klooga where war prisoners were burned in a nasty way, he happily ran away from german army and managed to survive, but being afraid of soviets for years - because his father was a small business owner, his son was also taken as an enemy of the state. His father was not so lucky, he had to stay in Siberia for years for being a shop owner, sick.

adrian said...

And to think, after all those tens of millions killed by the Soviets, we now have members of our own cabinet who were former members of the British Communist Party, people like Straw, Harman, John Reid and others.

Perhaps unconciously you have realised what is really going on, Your article was not so much a what might have happened, it is a what is about to happen.