LETTER: News of genocide

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From Mr A. Shapiro

Sir: I have in mind a 60th anniversary that occurs next week. After Hitler rose to power, the Jews and other minorities in Germany were persecuted, outlawed, beaten and murdered. The details of the first few years of oppressive Nazi atrocities were gathered and published under the title Der gelbe Fleck (Editions du Carrefour; Paris, 1936). The English translation was published by Victor Gollancz in the same year and called The Yellow Spot.

The then Bishop of Durham, Herbert Dunelm, wrote the introduction to this book on 12 February, 1936. He concluded his 2,000- word censure of the Nazis in Germany as follows:

The publication of this book will, I think hasten the return of sanity by making yet more vocal and insistent the protest of the civilised conscience itself, that protest which not even the most passionate nationalism can permanently resist or will finally resent.

While news of genocides went under-reported then, it is media overexposure that desensitises us today. No one listened then and, it seems, no one has the will now effectively to stop the horrors that different ethnic groups are inflicting on one another in many parts of the world.

Will we ever learn?

Yours faithfully,

A. Shapiro

London, NW4

6 February