A Holocaust reflection

November 18, 2019
November 18, 2019 Philip Holmes

A Holocaust reflection

Evil men who are preying on girls in south Nepal must be stopped.

My 13-year-old daughter, Alisha, has had her first (limited) exposure to the horrors of the Holocaust. This has included watching Schindler’s List, a movie that has inspired her to produce the artwork on the left for an RE homework. She explains that her tribute to those who perished is in the form of a swastika stamp superimposed on ghost-like figures with the red representing blood.

As it happens, last evening I was reading a book entitled The Golden Theme by Brian McDonald. At one point, he repeats the quotation from Anne Frank that is upheld so often as a positive reflection on human nature. “It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

If you have read my memoir, Gates of Bronze, you will know that my first wife, the late Esther Benjamins, spent the first part of her working life as a social worker supporting Dutch Jews who had survived the camps. Because she was Jewish herself, for the first time in decades, clients opened up and shared their experiences of hell. Esther once said to me that she didn’t need to watch Schindler’s List as she had heard much more than could ever appear on a movie screen. Whilst, of course, having profound sympathy for Anne Frank, she rejected the famous quotation above. Esther maintained that it was invalid as Anne had written it before she was exposed to the horrific realities of Belsen where she eventually perished. For Esther, many people were just fundamentally bestial and beyond redemption.

At ChoraChori we are having to contend with evil personified and unleashed. The rapists whom we have had to deal with in south Nepal include a man who raped his own baby daughter. We have rescued Nepalese children from an Indian “children’s shelter” where the owner and a number of accomplices (now in prison) were involved in gang rape and murder of the residents. At the end of last year, one rape and murder case was so appalling that for the first time a Nepalese court ruled that the culprit should go to prison for a life sentence that meant life.

Empowering girls is one thing, but we also have to disempower fundamentally wicked men, removing them from society permanently, if justice is to be done and the tide turned against child rape.

Current sentences are just too lenient.


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