Misusing memory of the Holocaust


Madam, - The rights and wrongs of abortion and stem-cell research notwithstanding, John F. Murray's letter of December 31st, which crudely conflated those issues with the cold-blooded murder of millions of people in Auschwitz, bespeaks a gross misappropriation of the past and and an obscene misuse of history.

Sadly, it has become commonplace to wheel out the German annihilation and "work" camps at every given opportunity to reinforce whatever "unspeakable" wrong one wishes to redress. Examples include the inaccurate comparisons of Israeli foreign/domestic policy to that of Nazi Germany, which is given so much airing in the Arab world, or, indeed, the Israeli government's (mis)use of the Holocaust as moral justification for its often bellicose and inappropriate "self-defence" strategies. In such cases - and there are many more far beyond the borders of the Holy Lands - the millions of those who died in the Nazi camps are blended into one amorphous statistic in the hope of enhancing whatever argument is being trumpeted. This ignores the individuality and the opinions of each of those murdered people, and it is thus an attack on their dignity as individuals and a hijacking of their suffering.

Who knows how the dead may have adjudged the issues for which their death is being used? It is a great mistake to view the Holocaust as a particular event. It was a sustained campaign which had taken many years and had many different facets. The great complexity of the issue deserves more respect than the trite comparisons to which we are so often treated. - Yours, etc,