This is probably the most poignant blog that I have ever written.
Maybe some good will come out of the Bernie Ecclestone fiasco after all.
On Friday, just before 6.00 pm, I was contacted by The Times and asked to comment on Bernie Ecclestone's words on Hitler, which were described by the journalist concerned, as 'some seriously pro Nazi comments'.
As it happens, some neighbours had invited me for Shabbat and had asked me to come round early for a general chat before the meal.
So I told the journalist that I only had 10 minutes. I was wished a cheery 'Shabbat Shalom' by said journalist, who also added that various important Jewish organisations had already been interviewed on the subject and not to worry.
I thought no more about it, and reckoned that the article might take up a couple of lines somewhere towards the back of the paper, or maybe on a blog.
This was not to be. On Saturday, the whole of page 3 was taken up with the Ecclestone affair:
In a way, I was glad that I hadn't commented. What could I have said? If I had pointed out lack of height, a penchant for dangerous sports and the will to power, no doubt I would have been sued.
Because all those people who condemn Hitler, but say 'he got things done' are missing the point. In the early stages of Nazism at least, the regime was very careful to obtain feedback from the public. And when they found that the public didn't mind the violence and the gassings (and not only of Jews), then they thought they had carte blanche. So it isn't quite true that the whole thing was not democratic. What is certainly was was the 'bystander' approach. Most people are not perpertrators of evil, but bystanders, who just stand by and let things happen:
Just as most people involved in the dangerous sport of formula racing are those thousands or millions who do not take part, but watch it, and thus gain some vicarious pleasure from it.
And today, there is another article in The Times, by their correspondent in Germany, Roger Boyes:
It's about the little south Polish town of Jaslo. It's the first time that I have read about this town in a British newspaper, or in the English language altogether. And why did the name leap out? Because this is the home town of my mother, my uncle, my aunt and their parents, all of whom are now dead.
And because the article is about a tree that was planted in honour of Adolph Hitler 67 years ago, and which the town's mayor (a woman) wishes to cut down.
Roger Boyes is so right when he comments:
The Nazis had a thing about trees, perhaps because of their curiosity about ancient Teutonic tree-worship or perhaps because they wanted to shape nature to their will
But it's not just the Germans. Fascism is many things. But one thing it most definitely is is the desire to dominate, control and employ power (sometimes of a spiritual nature) to bend others to one's will and whims. It is a terrible thing, and is most evident in those who have problems in childhood and adolescence. Often these people also worship their mothers as saints and have either absent or abusive fathers. Hitler was certainly one of these.
Last week's biblical reading was about Balaam and his ass:
Balaam had great spiritual power. According to some, even more spiritual power than Moses. So what went wrong? Balaam tried to use this power for his own ends, rather than to be used as a vehicle through whom God works. His was the quintessential 'will to power'
There are many people like this in modern life. As someone said in a letter to The Times today, it is not getting things done that counts, but getting the right things done. And - one might add - in the right way!
Which is why I accessed some internet sites on Jaslo and found mention made of my own uncle, a lawyer, who had been banished to Siberia with his parents, my grandparents, during the Holocaust. He returned after the war and was then exiled from Poland during the corn failures of 1968, when the tiny remnant of remaining Jews were accused of being 'Zionists'.
My uncle ended up in Sweden, where his son - my cousin - lives to this day.
His name is also Bernard, by the way, just like his father, my mother's older brother:
Meanwhile, my lovely friend, Marjorie, has sent me this by Barbra Streisand:
Yes, somewhere there really is a place for us and maybe all the Jaslos that were destroyed by the will to power have prevailed after all.