At mid-morning on the second Sunday in November buglers will play the Last Post at the Cenotaph war memorial in London and for two minutes Britain will fall silent. The simple dignity of Remembrance Sunday, the Queen laying a wreath, the silence as a canopy of red poppies fall on the veterans and armed services standing to attention, make it a moment of almost unbearable sadness.
While the event commemorates all British and Commonwealth war dead, it has its roots in the trenches of the First World War and battles like the Somme where the British suffered 58,000 casualties, one third killed, on the first day. The silence marks the eleventh hour of the eleventh day when the guns fell silent in 1918. The symbol of the occasion is a blood red poppy distributed by the Royal British Legion and worn by millions.
There is no more heartfelt symbol of traditional feeling in Britain than the poppy. and this is why two recent government funding decisions revealed such an astonishing shift in cultural priorities. The first was a refusal to fund a poppy project in a field of remembrance for Britain’s war dead. The second was the Prime Minister’s pledge to pour more taxpayers money into promoting the booming Holocaust industry.
The decisions confirm what many have suspected — that Holocaust promotion is gradually replacing the commemoration of the sacrifice of servicemen as the subject of community remembrance in Britain.
It is a change for which the British political elite seems to have a driving enthusiasm. The annual government grant to the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) is already a very generous £2.1 million. The extra £300,000 a year will not only pay for more school Holocaust propaganda, but will also pay to set up a new national Holocaust Commission to erect yet another permanent memorial.
It was always predictable that the left-leaning Heritage Lottery Fund, the UK’s largest dispenser of public largesse, would decline an application from an unfashionable veterans group such as the Royal British Legion. Not only was the application rejected owing to “lack of funds” but the Fund then approached a pacifist group and invited them to submit an application to raise awareness of conscientious objectors.
Even by the standards of the Heritage Lottery Fund this was a calculated insult. The Fund’s Trustees are dominated by the kind of women that seem to proliferate in the public sector. Privately-educated left-wing graduates from the BBC and elsewhere in the world of arts, who have never soiled their hands in the private sector.
But the refusal was more than a gratuitous slap in the face. It was a sign that the commemoration of the sacrifice of servicemen with its connotations of glory, sacrifice, Britishness and patriotism, was to be elbowed aside in favour something much more politically useful — Holocaust promotion.
Over the past few years the Holocaust industry has moved centre stage and is now one of the most lavishly funded and well-appointed causes in British public life. There cannot be a town hall or classroom in the United Kingdom which has not been used to hammer home the story of an event which happened hundreds of miles from Britain’s shores and in which neither British troops or civilians were involved.
A profusion of Holocaust groups are cashing in and benefiting from taxpayer money. This year alone Beth Shalom Holocaust Education Centre in Newark in the East Midlands got a million pounds, the Holocaust Recalled Group in Swansea, Wales, got £791,000, the Lake District Holocaust Project and the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association in Leeds, Yorkshire have both been given around half a million and there are many more.
But it is an organisation called the Holocaust Educational Trust that has cornered the biggest market share. This huge organisation has embarked on one of the largest programmes of social engineering ever seen in Britain. Its main achievement has been in making Holocaust propaganda a central part of the core National Curriculum in England. Now every pupil between 11 and 14 must undergo mandatory Holocaust instruction. More than half of Britain’s schools now take part in the HET’s “Lessons from Auschwitz” programme while it has sent about 15,000 pupils to visit Auschwitz itself.
It directs an ambitious “Outreach” indoctrination programme and claims to have recruited 20,000 “Ambassadors” amongst Britain’s young people to spread the word and diligently ensure that Holocaust enthusiasm does not drop to unacceptable levels.
The HET has impeccable cross-party political and business Jewish connections, including House of Commons Speaker John Bercow and Lord Browne, formerly the head of British Petroleum. But getting the Prime Minister to attend its annual appeal dinner and announce not only the latest cash boost but that he would chair the new Holocaust Commission and visit Auschwitz himself next year, was a real coup.
While groups such as the HET have ensured that London has become a centre of Holocaust indoctrination, it is only a small part of very much a trans-national effort. The roots of the current boom go back to 2000 and a conference in Stockholm when 31 nations agreed to subject their populations to mass compulsory Holocaust teaching. These are continually monitored by a body of government academics, bureaucrats and NGOs now known as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) the current chair of which is Britain’s own “Holocaust Czar” a senior diplomat and former Ambassador to Israel called Sir Andrew Burns who has submitted a glowing report on Britain’s progress.
The indoctrination of British children is planned at a crucible of political correctness, the Institute of Education. Since 2008 the Government and the Pears Foundation have together pumped about £5 million into the IOE’s new Centre for Holocaust Education. Henceforth Holocaust teaching will provide an easy road to career advancement via new curriculum credits and certification courses.
About 40 teachers are given a Masters level qualification instruction free of charge each year and a network of Beacon Beacon Schools in Holocaust education are being set up across the country, replete with London seminars and trips abroad. “The aim is that each Beacon School will emerge as a dynamic hub for other schools and their teaching staff who teach about the Holocaust.”
A flavour of all this can be seen in the London schools website, The London Grid for Learning, which provides education resources to all school students in London’s boroughs and pipes in propaganda directly via the Holocaust Explained website developed by the London Jewish Cultural Centre and also largely public-funded.
The Holocaust Day Memorial Trust is another big player in this sector. It first made its mark in 2001 when it managed to get January 21 named as Holocaust Remembrance Day in Britain. The date has since been adopted worldwide, although very unpopular with some groups. The Trust’s 2013 booklet gives a glimpse of the impressive range of its activities.
Another well-established charity The Anne Frank Trust, was not slow to jump on the new bandwagon. It currently has eight travelling exhibitions touring the country. It receives huge financial support from a variety of different government departments even though its brochure reveals the most impressive range of corporate backers in the charity world and a ticket to its annual lunch is much sought after in society circles.
For generations of Brits the Imperial War Museum has been one of the most fascinating repositories in London with a wealth of artifacts and information about Britain’s imperial and military past, but this has all be shunted aside now. Since 2000 the Museum has been home to the largest exhibition in Europe on the Holocaust. Every year it hosts a conference called Beyond the Camps and Forced Labour, and of course there are obligatory extensive resources aimed at children.
On and on it goes. The Association of Jewish Refugees has created the Holocaust testimony archive. Refugee Voices and the Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London now houses the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute visual history archive.
Not to be outdone is the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide the world’s oldest Holocaust research institution, which has expanded and move to new premises in central London, adjacent to the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism Birkbeck which was only launched in 2010.
So what is the point of marginalising Remembrance Sunday? While the white-haired old veterans of the Royal British Legion still enjoy tremendous grassroots support, it is obvious why they are an embarrassment to a government seeking to foster closer relations with other European elites. They are an all too vivid reminder that relations were not always so cosy.
One of the main achievements of the Holocaust groups is to ensure that the words Nazi and Holocaust remain very much in the forefront of day-to-day consciousness and can be instantly deployed to smear and silence immigration opponents. This can be seen clearly in the way in which these groups stretch their remit to say they are campaigning for tolerance for refugees, asylum seeker children, and so on.
It also provides political cover for Britain’s foreign adventures. In June 1999 Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked about the creation of a memorial day for the Holocaust. Referring to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo he said “I am determined to ensure that the horrendous crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust are never forgotten. The ethnic cleansing and killing that has taken place in Europe in recent weeks are a stark example of the need for vigilance.” More recently at the HET dinner it was David Cameron who invoked the Holocaust into justifying intervention in Syria.
One question never asked is why is the teaching of political violence so selective? Surely it would be more appropriate for Muslim and Hindu school students to learn about the million plus who were killed during the partition of India. And what about the Armenians who proportionately suffered one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century at the hands of the Turks who themselves are now one of the biggest immigrant populations in London and whose application to join the European Union, Britain is supporting.
And if we are looking for patterns of political violence, how can it be right to avoid mentioning the massacres and cultural annihilation that everywhere follow the spread of Islam, not to mention the recent massacres of Christians in Pakistan and Nigeria.
Then there is the largest omission of them all — of the biggest campaign of extermination of the twentieth century carried out by the Bolsheviks in which between 12 and 14 million were exterminated by planned starvation and liquidation.
By any standards the Communist menace was as much of a threat to British security as Nazi Germany. They were an enemy for far longer, had nuclear weapons pointed at our cities, and their agents and sympathisers were deeply entrenched in our establishment.
Is it the hugely disproportionate presence of Jews among the Soviet communist leadership at the time the reason that this subject seems to be so off-limits in the West today? Does the kinship that our cultural Marxist overlords feel for their revolutionary Marxist predecessors mean they are off limits when it comes to criticism? Certainly the organised financial and political power of the Jewish community seems to be the biggest deciding factor when it comes to deciding which massacres contain warnings from history and which ones don’t.