Tendring Topics…….on Line
‘It wasn’t your fault – Someone else was to blame!’
That’s the message that we all like to hear when catastrophe strikes, whether it affects us alone or a whole community. It’s a principle that makes the fortunes of the ambulance chasing lawyers whose no win/no pay adverts fund day-time commercial tv. When such a catastrophe or a series of catastrophes affect a whole nation, astute politicians make certain that we hear it. They can usually find someone else, a convenient scapegoat, to take the blame.
Thus it was in
in the 1920s and ‘30s. Defeat in World War I had been followed by the
world-wide ‘flu epidemic that claimed more victims than had the recent conflict. The German Empire had collapsed, the Kaiser
had abdicated and fled into exile, politically the country was in chaos, and
economically in ruin. There was
uncontrolled inflation, widespread unemployment, homelessness and starvation.
Folk were totally disillusioned by the apparent impotence of the government and
the traditional political parties.
There was just one rising politician who gave the German people a message of hope.
Germany’s intellectual élite
thought that Adolf Hitler, the posturing little Austrian painter with his
Charlie Chaplin moustache, was just a joke and his followers nothing but
‘fruitcakes’ (or the German equivalent).
The country’s leading businessmen helped finance him. Their fortunes
were threatened by the revolt of the common people. They believed that they
could control him and that he and his followers could defeat the socialists and
communists whom they saw as their principal enemies.
Hitler told the German people what they wanted to hear. They were in no way to blame for the mess in which they found themselves. Their brave soldiers hadn’t really been defeated in the Great War. They had been betrayed; stabbed in the back by
’s internal enemies – the
international financiers, the politicians, and the Jews. Vote for the NSDAP (the National Socialist
German Workers Party or NAZIs). He and
his party’s gallant storm-troopers would curb the financiers, get rid of the
parasitic politicians and the Jews, and create a great new German Empire (the
Third Reich) that would dominate the world. Germany
Enough Germans believed that message to give the Nazis a majority in the Reichstag – and, having gained power, they made sure (or so they thought) of securing it ‘for a thousand years’. The rest is history, in which I and millions of others played tiny and insignificant roles.
There are parallels between
in the 1920s and ‘30s and the UK
today. We haven’t been defeated in war
but military adventures in the Middle East
have impoverished and weakened us. Our
economic and political situations are nothing like as dire as those of between-the-wars
Germany. They are serious though. We have narrowly missed an unprecedented
‘triple dip’ recession. Our credit-worthiness has been down-graded. There are
two and a half million unemployed, and the number of homeless people sleeping
rough in the streets is rising, as is the number of families relying on charity
hand-outs from ‘Food Banks’ to keep their families alive.. We are all, except for the very rich, feeling
Most significant of all, we have lost faith in our traditional politicians and in their political parties. We don’t really think that the present millionaire-friendly government is going to solve Britain’s problems (their continual bleat about the terrible mess they inherited is beginning to wear a little thin as the months and years pass) and we very much doubt if New Labour would do much – or even any – better. There was a time when Labour’s objectives were pretty clear; the creation of a classless democratic socialist society in which poverty and homelessness had been abolished and the gap between rich and poor narrowed. After ten years of New Labour rule in which the gap between rich and poor widened it has become clear that their only real objective is now much the same as that of their opponents – to get elected and to hang on to power at all costs.
But now – just as in Germany in the ‘30s - we have an anti-politics political party with a charismatic leader who reaches above the heads of more conventional politicians to their disillusioned former supporters; and to those who have never before taken any interest in politics. Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party) has a very English charisma. He’s that very likeable - and very persuasive – fellow that one might meet in a well-run pub. He is always ready to explain complex economic and political issues in plain language that anyone can understand. He’s ‘one of us’, enjoying a pint and a fag, and having no time at all for those who claim to know better than we do, how we should live our lives.
What’s more, he’s found foreign scapegoats who, so he claims, are responsible for all the UK's political and economic ills.
Brussels is the hub of a web of evil called the EU whose
sole purpose is to ruin the UK
and everything in which we true Brits believe.
No-one, listening to Nigel Farage or any other spokesperson of Ukip
would imagine for a moment that the European Union is an organisation of which
the United Kingdom
is an influential member and that it has a democratically elected Parliament in
which there are Ukip members.
The other factor contributing to the UKs downfall is, according to Ukip, the thousands of foreign immigrants who pour into this country from
and every other part of the world taking our
jobs and our houses and enjoying our social and health services. Withdraw from the evil EU and stop all
immigration, in the first instance for five years (Oh yes, and allow smoking
again in pubs, stop building wind farms and scrap all that ‘health and safety’
nonsense) and all Britain’s problems
will be solved.
I think that, like Hitler, Nigel Farage has found a recipe for electoral success. I am glad that I am most unlikely to see and experience its outcome, and be able to say, I told you so!’ Being very old isn’t all loss!‘
PS I note that Nigel Farage’s magic doesn’t work in
. The rough reception he received there has led
him to the conclusion that Scots Nationalists harbour a hatred of Scotland and all
things English. I think it more likely
that their antagonism is directed not at England but at Nigel Farage and his
deluded disciples. If I were twenty or thirty years younger I’d be thinking of
relocating north of the border! England
I have had some somewhat mixed experience of birthdays in the past. My 20th birthday, for instance, was spent on guard duty in
, Sevenoaks, where 67th
Medium Regiment, R.A. was camped under canvas while waiting for orders to go
Twentieth birthday – a break from guard duty.
My 21st was spent in the Libyan Desert waiting for Rommel’s Afrikakorps to attack, and the next two, which I prefer to forget, were spent as a PoW in
and Germany. My 24th birthday (on 18th
May 1945) was a very happy one though I received not a single birthday card or
present. It was the day, just ten days
after the end of World War II in Europe, on which I stepped through the front door
of my home in Kensington Road,
Ipswich after having been overseas for four
years and a PoW for three of them.
Regular blog readers will know that my 90th birthday was a very special one. I went with members of my immediate family to celebrate it in Zittau, the small town in eastern Germany where I had once been a PoW but now had good friends .We were given a civic welcome and a champagne reception by Mayor Arnd Voight, treated to a special performance of a local piano-accordian orchestra and I hosted a celebratory evening meal to which my family and I invited our German friends and the Mayor and his wife and other local notables.
90th birthday; Here is the Piano-accordian orchestra. I am on the left in the shadow. In the background on the right can be seen the Lenten Veil in the history of which I played a tiny part
As my 92nd birthday loomed ahead it seemed that there was a distinct possibility (I will put it no stronger) that it might be my last. I thought that I would like, on my birthday, to thank and express my appreciation to those who have helped and supported me since my wife’s death seven years ago. There were my two sons and daughters-in-law, Pete and Arlene and Andy and Marilyn. There were my grandchildren; Chris living and working in
Nick, living mostly in Brussels and his Belgian
girl-friend Romy, and granddaughter Jo, working as a social worker attached to the Renal Unit
of a large . Then there was Ingrid Zeibig, originally from
Zittau but now living in Bayreuth, a good friend for some ten years, her English partner Ray
and her Austrian god-daughter Jenny who spends a good deal of time with
her. There was Heather’s
thirteen-years-younger sister Margaret, Dr Volker Dudeck, former Direktor of Zittau's town musem and his wife Julia, and two Sheffield
Hospital Clacton friends who had been a great
support and help to me. I invited them all to a celebratory lunch at the Bowling Green Restaurant and pub at
Weeley a few miles from Clacton, at 1.00 p.m.
on Saturday 18th May. My sister-in-law Margaret and Dr and Mrs
Dudeck were already committed elsewhere but the others all accepted.
is planned with a number of
semi-private areas, some suitable for a party like ours – or larger, and
others offering a degree of privacy for just two or three. It was almost as though we had a room and two
tables to ourselves, though with no doors for the staff to negotiate between us
and the kitchens. Bowling Green
|The 'oldies' - Fortyish to ninetytwo|
It was a very successful occasion. There was a wide á la carte menu. The cooking was excellent and the service efficient and friendly. Ingrid had arranged for members of her family and others who knew me, to record their birthday good wishes on a tape that we played on a tv screen provided for us. The few words of Ingrid’s 101 years old grandma and her little nephew (aged 5) and niece (aged 7), were particularly moving. She had also obtained a message from Fritz Michel who in 1944 had manned the telephone of the Hitler Jugend headquarters next to our PoW barrack room. A clandestine swap (of which I don’t think either Hitler or Churchill would have approved!) of some of our jazz records with some of the Hitler Youth members’ German folk and dance records had been arranged!
Ingrid’s English partner Ray, played a guitar, and Ingrid a recorder to accompany sixteen year old Austrian Jenny singing Lili Marlene, equally popular with both British and German forces in North Aftrica, and Regen Tropfen, die am dein Fenster klopfen (raindrops that fall on your window) a popular German Tango of 1935 that had been one of the records we received in exchange from the Hitler Jugend way back in 1944. It was a wonderful birthday celebration enjoyed equally by the British, Belgian, German and Austrian participants; a great pity some of the Europhobes of Ukip weren’t there to share the experience.!
|The young'uns - sweet sixteen to thirtytwo|