Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. A series of television programmes is being shown here this week to remind us of the horrors which blighted much of the third and fourth decades of the 20th century, the purpose being to try and ensure that such horrors are never repeated; this year the 'theme' is From the Holocaust to Rwanda, one of a number of outrages on an industrial scale that have taken place in more recent years. Another is Cambodia.
Yesterday I watched a recording of a television programme broadcast the previous evening in which Hungarian Jews who had survived the Holocaust recounted their experiences; it is one of the documentaries prepared by the Shoah Foundation. The tone was straightforward, not histrionic in any way. This added to the power of the programme - all those who spoke were quite young during the Holocaust years and the matter-of-fact narrative style most of them managed to achieve (despite understandable emotional interludes) when describing the horrors they had experienced and witnessed, and the effect these had upon their perceptions of what was going on around them, made for very difficult, but essential, viewing.
Less appreciated until more recent years was the particular opprobrium in which the gay community was held by the Nazi authorities (and rather too many governments, even today) and this commentary is useful as a way of bringing attention to this aspect of the wider Holocaust as it affected its major victims, the Jewish people.