It didn’t begin with uniform wearers, armband bearers; that’s just where it ended, with proud keyholders to blandly wicked gas chambers. It started on the streets, in the shops and bars, with late night whispers and jokes about the Jews and who’s to blame for all the ills of the day. It was carried along like a smile, like a song by the middle-of-the-roaders, the go-with-the-flow-ers, the deaf, dumb and blind and the want-a-quiet-lifers. And no-one really noticed unless they were called Cohen, or Meyer or Levin or Stein but everybody knew about the over-sensitive Jews; touchy and greedy and have you ever noticed how they don’t look like us? And so like a snowball in winter it rolled merrily along, like a smile, like a song, this wonderful new truth that would make the nation strong, this great Fatherland with its old ways and new, a promised land for all – well, all but the Jew. It didn’t start with Panzers rampaging through Paris, nor ghettos, nor mass graves, children cowering in attics. No human skin lampshades in the fabled masterplan; but call people sub-human and yourself Superman, and it’s only going one way. Down a dead end street where grandmas and grandads, aunties and uncles, half-starved children and their mums and dads are lined up against a wall, the lucky ones spared a last train ride to a death camp nestled in the countryside. Their voices ghost out from bulletholed walls, from obscene trenches, from railtracks leading to Arbeit Macht Frei, a laughable legacy from a sick joke world. Six million strangled battlecries to beware ignorance and fear: We too thought it could never happen here. Harry Gallagher
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