David Randall: Regrets about my Nazi past? No, I just can't keep up with the fan mail

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The Independent Online

The last man alive to have worked with Adolf Hitler has an announcement to make.

Rochus Misch was Hitler's bodyguard, courier and telephonist, and was with him in that Berlin bunker until the end, only escaping after the leader, Eva Braun, and the family Goebbels had committed suicide (or, in the case of the Goebbels children, been poisoned by their mother). He is now 93, and no longer as spry as he was when goose-stepping around in the old days.

Hence, he says, he will no longer be responding to the many requests for autographs he receives. He used to send all the Führer's fans a signed photograph of himself in his SS uniform, but will do so no longer. Apparently, boxes of fan mail arrive at his Berlin apartment every week, "and not one," says the jolly old Nazi, "has a bad word to say."

Of course not, why would they?

* Most of us are probably under the impression that coral are fairly sedantary organisms, not much given to roaming, foraging, or what you might call recreational exercise. Basically, they die where they live.

So when we read that warmer seas are killing them, we assume that that, unfortunately, is that. Not necessarily so, it seems. They can migrate, or rather their offspring can.

A team at the Center for Global Environmental Research in Japan has found that, since 1930, some kinds of coral have been moving north in search of cooler waters at a rate of about eight miles a year. They looked at nine species and found that the polyps (the new corals) of four threatened ones had moved. There are precedents, apparently.

According to Discovery.com, similar movements of staghorn and elkhorn corals occurred some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago off the coast of Florida. No doubt there are downsides to these unexpectedly ambient habits (such as not all the organisms which share their ecology migrating with them), but it sounds to me like heartening news.

* How many people do you think applied for jobs with Google last week? 180? 470? Miles out. It was 75,000. Many of them were career-challenged young Americans, the lack of job prospects for whom was cited as one of the prime reasons for the remorseless rise of anxiety in the US.

A recent survey of 200,000 college freshers, by the University of California, found, in the words of psychologist Robert Leahy, that: "the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s".

Besides worrying about careers (something freshers should really not be even thinking about), other causes advanced were: loss of community, human contact, information overload, the all-pervading delusion that we are somehow entitled to feel good all the time, and other usual suspects.

Me, I fancy that social networks and the self-obsessing they encourage, may well play a big part, too. One more reason not to Tweet, Facebook, or Bebo.

* In certain circles in Iran, Holocaust denying has been erected into a virtual article of faith. Its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seems confused on the subject, sometimes calling it "a myth", or invented by the Allies to discredit Nazi Germany, at other times saying it was "an excuse" to create the state of Israel, thereby implying it happened but that the "wrong" conclusions were drawn from it.

Either way, many Iranians are, to say the least, deeply sceptical, not to say ignorant, of the mass slaughter.

Very enterprising, therefore, of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum, to launch on YouTube a Farsi-language explanation of what went on in Nazi-occupied Europe so that Iranians can see and hear for themselves in their own language. However, it was not the only thing launched recently.

On the same day, as Jenara Nerenberg points out on FastCompany.com, Iran started a police unit specialising in cybercrime. Its duties will no doubt include tracking down anyone using email and social networking sites to organise demonstrations and opposition, but you wouldn't be totally surprised if the new techie cops also began pulling in for questioning those viewing Yad Vashem's Farsi site.