Sixty years on
Next Wednesday is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Tonight BBC2 screened a memorable film — Auschwitz: a musical memorial in which survivors told of they way they had played to save their lives, and great contemporary musicians played in the ruins of the camp.
In an earlier life, I worked on the New Statesman with Dick Crossman, the celebrated Labour politician, cabinet minister (in Harold Wilson’s government) and diarist and once, during a conversation about the Second World War, he told me an extraordinary story.
Photo from Spartacus Schoolnet
Crossman had served in the Psychological Warfare Department during the war and arrived at one of the death camps just after it had been liberated by the British army. After absorbing the initial shock, Crossman demanded that the commanding officer summon an army Film Unit to record what they were uncovering. The officer protested, arguing that they had much more important, humanitarian, work to do. Why did Crossman want a film crew just then. “Because”, Dick replied, “some day people will deny that this ever happened”.