LETTER : My heritage

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NEAL Ascherson's column on "heritage" (19 February) is characteristically reasoned and courteous and I hope I will have occasion to debate it. I was brought up to loathe British imperialism. One of my earliest political memories, at the age of seven or eight, was being told by my mother that in the Bengal famine of 1942 the Europeans were eating 17-course meals in the restaurants while Indians were starving in the streets.

Like Neal Ascherson I cut my teeth on opposition to the Suez war of 1956. I was bitterly opposed to the Falklands expedition. And I believe this country still has an unsettled account with those who sent thousands to their death at Passchendaele and on the Somme. So whatever else it is that fuels Theatres of Memory, I cannot believe that it is jingoism.

Raphael Samuel

London E1

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