We mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, not the day it opened.
Imagine if it were otherwise. Imagine if someone were to propose commemorating the dead of the Holocaust on the 14th of June rather than the 27th of January, because it was on a pleasant summer’s morning rather than a bitterly cold winter one that the first transport of prisoners was marched through the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gates. There would be revulsion, disbelief and horror at such a sick notion, and rightly so.
World War 1 killed ten times as many people as died in Auschwitz, and almost three times as many as were murdered in the entire Nazi extermination programme. For the past 94 years humanity has marked their deaths on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, because that moment in 1918 was when the guns of the Western Front finally fell silent. Yet a little under two years from now, that solemn tradition will be cast aside in favour of a lavish series of public events to be held not on the day the senseless slaughter ended, but on the day it began.
It’s hard to come up with a plausible or convincing reason why.
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Sorry folks, we’ve got a cold coming on and we’ve been a bit enfeebled today, so we’ve only just caught up with this. Evidently, independence campaigners such as ourselves were being far too complacent when we imagined that 2012 was the last opportunity for a major Union Jack-waving Festival Of Britishness. Stupidly, it hadn’t occurred to us that in a time when we can’t even afford to pay Disability Living Allowance to blind paraplegics with terminal cancer because the lazy scrounging scum could be out getting work as draught excluders or something, the country’s economy could manage to find 50 million quid spare for a big knees-up to celebrate the START of a war.
After all, World War 1 isn’t generally thought of as all that great a thing. Millions of young lives were squandered senselessly on the Western Front and elsewhere, not in the heroic defence of an innocent nation invaded by an aggressor but because of some inept, spectacularly stupid political manoeuverings and failures of diplomacy. When it finally ground to an end having slaughtered the flower of a generation, the peace-making process was handled so ineptly that it set up another world war just 20 years later, this one three times more catastrophic. Sounds well worth a party.
In our Lemsip-befuddled state, we can’t actually figure out if this is in fact all a ploy specifically designed to foil the referendum or if the Tories really do just get a massive hard-on for ANYTHING that’ll let them wave a flag around and reminisce fondly about the Empire and the spilled blood of the working class. If we do, we’ll let you know.