Last night on the telly we watched a programme about the dislike of Hitler and hence the Nazi Party for modern art, which they regarded as being “decadent” or “degenerate” (Entartete Kunst). Many people had acquired such paintings, and among them were many Jewish collectors. The Nazi treatment of the Jews at this time made many of them fearful, and their difficulties were compounded if they happened to be the owners of modern art collections. Some had their collections simply taken away, some elected to sell them either because they needed the money, or because the Nazi restrictions on them meant that they lost any jobs or positions they formerly had. Some elected to leave Germany, and they in general were the “lucky” ones, some elected to stay (one, Emil Nolde, was actually a member of the Nazi Party) and either ended their days in concentration camp where they died through disease, illness, or being gassed, and some simply committed suicide. Some few of those with children managed to get the latter out of Germany via the Kindertransport trains.
The situation in Germany in the 1930s was well known to some in this country, and probably well known in Government circles, but the official line was that there would be no interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation such as Germany, especially as this might arouse hostility and provoke anti British activities or be harmful to British citizens living in that country. So, as usual the getting out of threatened Jewish families and others was left to the initiative of private citizens – usually those wealthy enough to stand the cost of the operation.
Now, the wheel has come round again, and the Government has shamefully decided to withdraw support for operations in the Mediterranean Sea where desperate refugees set sail for Europe from the north coast of Africa in the hope of a better life and freedom. Some make it, largely due to the humane activities of Italy via its navy, but many are lost at sea. The reason given is that if we provide assistance to refugee boats it will encourage others to attempt the journey. The Government seem unable to grasp the idea that these people are not leaving home voluntarily with some idea of getting a better life in Europe or Britain, but that they are leaving because it is that or death if they stay put.
They claim that they will contribute in some way to methods of stemming the flow before it hits the African coast. In reality of course, the flow of people will continue, the people traffickers will take their money, and now the number that drown will never be known except by sad bits of evidence washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Then, to cap it all a very good Parliamentary Bill which would have given the voters of a Constituency a chance to censure their MP if he or she turned out to be a dud was defeated, and now there are moves to make it possible for MP’s expenses to be kept secret.
And then they sit around at Westminster holding discussions as to why old gents like me don’t like them, and why the most disaffected vote for UKIP candidates !