Sep 2003 Journal

Letters to the Editor

Putting the record straight

Sir - Jon Rumney (August issue) states that 'the whole world knows that the USA and UK were Iraq's main weapons suppliers.' Well, one source which does not know that is Jane's 1990 Survey (pre-Gulf War 1) of the world's armed forces. It clearly shows the Iraqi forces as being equipped mainly with Russian and French weaponry. It would also appear that Mr Rumney is unaware of who supplied Saddam with the Ozirac nuclear reactor, namely France. Had it not been destroyed in 1982 by the Israeli air force, Saddam would by 1990 have been in possession of the 'Mother of All Weapons of Mass Destruction'.
Jacob Brauner, London NW11

No to the nay-sayers

Sir - If action against Saddam had to be 'sold' to the Anglo-American public on the WMD premise, to be discarded as a 'wild-goose chase', perhaps it is because there is no international agreement on when, if at all, the humanitarian consideration should prevail.

When does inconvenience, subjectively (perhaps) experienced, become oppression, then persecution, then genocide? At what point are 'outsiders' entitled to intervene? As an internationalist, my answer is 'the sooner the better', but the nationally-inclined may be expected to hesitate. Can you not imagine the reaction in the USA years ago at any suggestion of armed intervention to deal with the 'terrible wrong' being done to the black population of the old South? And would America think otherwise now?
Alan S Kaye, Chalfont St Giles

ir - I always look forward to reading your front-page leader, if only because it so frequently gets the adrenalin flowing! Maybe it is good for you, like exercise and five portions of fruit, to achieve a beyond-average long life. It is far too soon to argue that the invasion of Iraq was a good thing for the Iraqi people - history will tell. Moreover, it is probably near impossible to plant democracy without extensively preparing the soil. Furthermore, it was the British government that taught the Iraqis and the Kurds that might is right. We used the RAF and gas-filled bombs to do so - weapons of MD! A lesson the Arabs have not forgotten.

The real point at issue is that we were sold this military venture almost solely on the information that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and could deploy them in a very short space of time. Knowing his evil character, would he not have used them if he could? Would it have hurt if we had taken Hans Blix's advice and given the UN and their inspection team a few weeks longer? France, Germany and, indeed, many other nations did not share the opinion of Bush and Blair. I see no reason why you should be so inspired by Alistair Campbell. And finally, just to put my money where my mouth is, I will make a donation to the AJR welfare fund if any real weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq.
Herbert Layton, Gloucester

Nuremberg Colloquy

Sir - Readers might be interested to read about the Zeitzeugengespräch (Period Witness Colloquium) in early June. There were five witnesses, two from England and three from the US. They had been persuaded to take part by Gerhard Jochem, one of the city archivists in Nuremberg much involved with the history of Jews in the city. In his spare time he has created a comprehensive website on this subject.

We had two sessions with teenage schoolchildren who appeared well informed, although none seemed to know any Jews. They wanted to know a great deal about what had happened to us, and we were able to tell them and to stress that they needed to know so as to make sure that such things could not happen again.

We found that the young generation of Nurembergers were sincerely puzzled and distraught at the events of the Hitler years and felt strongly about the guilt of their fathers and grandfathers. We met a great many people who expressed their personal empathy and were involved in activities to make amends. (Herr Jochem's address is: Stadt Nuremberg, Stadtarchiv 90317, Nuremberg.)
Susan Sinclair

Vienna Community's Financial Plight

It would be a laudable gesture if AJR members of Austrian origin would each contribute an affordable sum towards a donation to be sent to the Augarten Schule in Vienna. Your compassionately worded appeal will surely call forth a generous response!

2003 AGM

Sir - The best conducted and shortest AGM I have ever attended! Many congratulations to the management team. And what a good idea to hold it at the Holocaust Centre in Laxton, to enable our Northern and Midlands members not to have to travel so far, and all of us to meet. May I suggest we hold future AGMs in Laxton every three years.
Eric Neman, Elstree

Narrow Focus

Sir - Having been a subscriber to AJR Journal for some years, it pains me to point out that the title Association of Jewish Refugees is clearly a misnomer. In your otherwise excellent publication, I have read in great depth about Austro-German refugees, but never at any time has there been any mention of East European Jewish refugees. Am I to take it that your journal/association does not wish to take cognisance of the existence of Polish Jewish refugees?
Bob Kutner, Glasgow


Sir - How splendid! Germans refuse to go to war!
M Goldenberg, London N6

Material sought

The author of two published historical studies, I am gathering material for a book on the nature of British support for Nazism up to 1945. I would welcome any recollections, impressions, sight of any documents, photos, etc. Any readers who feel able to assist my research should contact me through the Editor.
Martin Page, MA Oxon

Fences and bridges

Sir - Clare Parker is sickened by the ignorance of anyone daring to blame Sharon for 'trying to protect his people.' His so-called protection has resulted in many more civilian deaths than ever before. He would be better advised to conform fully with the 'road map' currently on offer. Thank god for the Israeli citizen Daniel Barenboim. He recently gave a concert in Ramallah and is laying the foundations for a Palestinian youth orchestra. This emphasis on our common humanity is building bridges between our two peoples. Surely better than erecting fences.
Inge Trott, Cheam

Ostriches and Crabs

Sir - As a regular reader of AJR Journal, I am shocked by the continuous venomous letters directed against you. Haven't these people learned anything since 1939, when the world stood by while 6 million Jews were exterminated? They remind me of the so-called Nauman-Juden in Germany between 1933 and 1935 who said Hitler didn't mean us - only the Ostjuden.

I am surprised to read your review of Crabwalk by Gunter Grass, whom I always thought to be a liberal, modern German. According to Frederick Forsyth's Odessa File, the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk by the Russians because it contained a large number of German army personnel and several hundred SS men, mostly guards of the Riga ghetto, in which thousands of German Jews were exterminated. I speak from experience as I was a member of the British army party which investigated this affair in late summer 1945.
Ossi Findling, London NW4


Sir - The subject which Bill Oakfield has raised (August issue) is obviously a very important one. This is the first time I have heard of it. Naturally I have no opinion as to the facts, but I wonder whether this is not a case of historical importance to the Jewish community in the UK. Should it not be investigated by an independent commission of enquiry?
Frederick Hirsch, Pinner, Middx