The Holocaust’s witnesses are dying off Soon no one will be left to speak out against those who deny the reality of the Nazi death camps,
By Colin BOSTOCK-SMITH
The First Post
December 13, 2006
It's disturbing to watch those madmen as they gather in Tehran, eager to deny that during the late 1930s and early 1940s there was a determined attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish race.
Those invited to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's provocative two-day conference - Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision - include David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Michele Renouf, a London-based associate of the revisonist author David Irving, in jail in Vienna for Holocaust denial.
More disturbing is the realisation that the people who actually witnessed the death camps, (after the war, as well as the survivors themselves) who freed the skeletons, who bulldozed the corpses into pits... those people are now dying themselves.
Before too long, the only evidence that the Holocaust ever took place will be found in the
records. Then the Holocaust-deniers will come into their own; there will be no witnesses left to refute the claim, made by Duke and Irving and others like them, that it was all a lie.
My godmother, Nancy, was one such witness. She was a pretty and charismatic woman, and she was an ambulance driver in the first British army convoy to enter Belsen.
Before the war, Nancy was something of a free spirit. The youngest daughter of strict parents, she resisted the dual attractions of marriage and a proper career, and instead went on the stage. She was, apparently, not much good on it. But she had fun. Late nights. Loads of men. She was a bright young thing. She revelled in life. She sparkled.
When hostilities broke out, she joined up, she drove her ambulance, and in the spring of 1945 she drove it into Belsen.
That much I knew as a child. I wanted to know more. But Nancy wasn't telling.
With the end of hostilities, her life changed abruptly. She no longer wanted anything to do with the stage, with her former life. Instead she emigrated. She got on a boat for Kenya, married a tea farmer, and stayed there until her death.
Of course, she came home occasionally. 'On leave', as the Kenyan whites called it. And when she did, I pestered her to tell me more about Belsen. She always refused.
Then, in the early 1990s, she came back one last time. One evening, after a heavy and convivial dinner, and far too much burgundy, I asked her about it again. What was it like? How did she feel? Her answer sobered us all up at a stroke.
"The worst thing," she began, "the worst thing was the doctor's rounds. I would have to go round the huts with a doctor, looking at the people. And the doctor would indicate to me which ones to take out for treatment. In other words, which ones stood a chance of surviving. The others were beyond help. They simply had to be left where they were, to die."
‘I can never forget their eyes,’ said Nancy . ‘They were beyond help. They had to be left to die’
She didn't have to point out the grotesque irony of those selections - that people who had survived the Nazi selections for death were now being selected for life. Or not.
"The doctor knew that those who were left would die. I knew they would die. And they knew they would die. You could see it in their eyes. They crawled at our feet, begging to be taken out. But we couldn't take them all. We just couldn't."
She got up, the convivial evening lying in pieces at her feet. "It's their eyes," she told me coldly. "I can never forget their eyes."
Then she went up to bed. Days later she left England for the last time, returned to her farm in Kenya, and died a few months later after a short illness.
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