Uncovering the Story of the Concentration Camps on British Soil

July 20 2020

In the first step of a never-realized plan to invade Britain, the Nazis occupied several of the islands in the English Channel, among them Alderney—on which they then built four forced-labor camps. Archaeologists are now investigating the largest of these, known as Sylt. Robert Philpot writes:

[Sylt’s] inmates were mostly Eastern Europeans, although there was also a large contingent of French Jews. The French prisoners dubbed Alderney “le rocher maudit”—the accursed rock—underlining the brutality of the wind-swept, sea-beaten, and remote island. Its prewar civilian population of 1,400 people had been evacuated by the UK when, deeming them too difficult to defend, it pulled out of the Channel Islands after the fall of France in June 1940.

In a bid to disguise its crimes, the SS demolished much of the camp in 1944. That effort, combined with the fact that, for many years, the presence of concentration camps on British soil was something of a taboo subject, meant that Sylt was often dismissed as having been “destroyed” or “dismantled.”

There is, according to the archaeologist [leading the study, Caroline Sturdy Colls], “a long legacy” which goes back to immediately after the war when the British government was “not necessarily keen even to acknowledge that these camps existed on British soil.” That legacy also meant that a lot of archive material remained classified for many years.

The scale of the horror perpetrated on Alderney is hotly debated. Official accounts after the war figured that less than 400 of the slave laborers died on the island. Seventy years on, though, some historians and military experts suggest the workforce and the death toll have been grossly underestimated. . . . . Sturdy Colls . . . believes at least 700 slave laborers died, while labeling the figure a “very conservative estimate.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Concentration Camps, Holocaust, United Kingdom

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter