A couple of months ago I went to Prague and about two weeks ago I was in Vienna. It was only a concidence that those trips, followed by a more than cursory reading of Johannas Sachslehner’s biography of Odilo Globocnik’s, “Zwei Millionen ham’ma erledigt” (We got rid of two million), happened as we approached the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation.
The message to come out of Auschwitz is “never again”, and it is that “never again” that consumed me when I was reading the endless list on the walls in the Pinkas Synagogue of those who perished in the Nazi death camps and when I was walking past a plaque on a pavement commemorating over three hundred people who had to gather in that particular street in Vienna’s district three to be deported.
Unfortunately, “never again” is either insufficient when it comes to grasping the absolute evil and the horror that the Holocaust was, or it must a least sound hollow when coming from someone who only looks at names on walls or plaques on streets. It is quiet reflection and a shedding of tears that are the order of the day and, hopefully, those tears will indeed ensure that it never happens again. However, for that hope not to be forelorn it is Hajo Meyer’s “never again for anyone”, that we should listen to and not the politicised and very exclusive “never again” from Netanyahu. After all we might be sure that Mr Meyer shed enough tears during his life and we might be sure that he and anyone else who genuinely suffered because of the evil that was epitomised by Odilo Globocnik and his fellow travellers have at least earned the right to tell all of us …… “NEVER AGAIN” without it ringing hollow.