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Rewriting history before our very eyes

Posted by Helen Thursday, May 12, 2005

The fragrant Margot (no longer smelling of roses even in her homeland, according to our Swedish friends) has decided to take a leaf out of George Orwell’s description of a horrific dystopia. As many of our readers will recall, Winston Smith’s job in the Ministry of Truth was to re-write ex post facto no longer convenient reports and articles in the Times.

She and her minions have been busy denying the accusations that the silly woman had said in Terezin (knowns as Theresienstadt when it was a Nazi camp) connected the need to create a supranational organization, a.k.a. the European Union with the Holocaust.

The sequence of events was as follows: the Daily Telegraph published an article highlighting this interesting piece of historical and political thinking. The fragrant Commissar’s minions rushed in to defend her – you have to feel sorry for them, working for someone as stupid as that – pointing out that no, she did not really say that at all, merely emphasised the horrors of the Second World War, which, according to her, was caused by “nationalistic pride and greed, and … international rivalry for wealth and power”.

I asked it before and ask it again: what was it that built camps like Theresienstadt? Nationalistic pride or an evil ideology? And while we are on the subject, what was it that fought that evil ideology and the other one, not mentioned by the fragrant Commissar or her colleagues, the supranational ideology of Communism? Was it not national pride?

Anyway, to get back to the story. The minions, rather helpfully, provided us all with links to the Terezin speech, which had among other comments, the following:

“Yet there are those today who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things.

I say those people should come to Terezin and see where that old road leads.”

Fairly clear cut, would you not say? Certainly, the Swedish media thought so. Let me quote the comments put on this blog by Dr Michael Gennser:

“In today's Svenska Dagbladet there is an article about Wallström's Terezin speech. The title in translation reads: Indignation over Wallström nazi-speech.

There is a short recapitulation of the speech, with some historical background on Theresienstadt. Then follows two statements by Mrs W's press scretary Lena Ag. In the first she says that the comments shouldn't be taken literally, but then she comes back and tells the journalist that the last of the criticized sentences ("I say to those people come to Terezin and see where that old road leads.") was struck from the speech, and was never spoken by Wallström.
"The wrong version was published on our home page. We are correcting it now."


Then follows comments by Nils Lundgren MEP (junilistan) and Sören Wibe MP (s) who both are very critical of the speech whether the last sentence was there or not.

So is Mrs Lena Posner-Körösi from the Jewish Association who finds it unacceptable that the Holocaust is reduced to an argument for or against the EU constitution.

On the web-site there are links to the "old" and the "new" version of the speech, as well as picture of the speech with the "offending" sentence highlighted.”

In the meantime, the fragrant one has been blustering. When she addressed the European Parliament yesterday, she was asked a number of fawning (there is another expression I could use but this is a family-friendly blog) questions from the assembled politicos.

One, James Hugh Allister, dared to put the relevant question:

“Has the Commission no shame in trying to ride to success in the referendum campaign on the back of emotion and sentiment, such as the Commissioner deployed in her speech at the commemoration ceremony for the liberation of the concentration camp of Terezin at the weekend? Does the Commission not have any appreciation that the opponents of the Constitution are just as proud of the defeat of Nazism as anyone else and that we take great offence when she tries to hijack and monopolise that sentiment in order to advance the political agenda of
seeking to promote this Constitution?”
He, unlike his lickspittle colleagues, did not get a pat on the head from the Commissioner for Truth and Reconciliation. Instead she screamed blue murder:
“I am sorry, but do the UK media have no shame in publishing such absolutely desperate lies? I never said such a thing, but it does not help if they have written it. They have lied; they have made things up. I just feel sorry for you because you have been misled by pure lies in the British media. I just want everybody here to know that this is a pure lie. They have made up some kind of title or headline in the newspapers that is totally wrong. A lot of people were there, so you will know exactly what I said.”
Temper, temper. The UK media, the Swedish media and the blogs, such as this one, took the wording from the website, whose link was helpfully supplied by the no-longer-fragrant harridan’s spokesman.

But, as Dr Gennser’s comment points out, the “new” version of the speech no longer makes the explicit connection between intergovernmentalism and the Holocaust. The “new” paragraphs read:
“European nations nations may well disagree on all kinds of issues – but instead of fighting we now sit round the table and discuss them until we reach an agreement. It means a lot of compromises but it works!

Yet there are those today who want to scrap the European supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely nation state way of doing things.

We rejoice today at the ending of the Second World War and all its horrors.”
At the risk of repeating myself, I feel I need to do a little fisking on that.

In the first place, are we to understand from the fragrant one’s reading of history that there has never been a situation in which nation states’ representatives sat down round the table and discussed matters? No previous agreements or treaties at all? The whole of history has been waiting for the balmy influence of the wondrous Commissars to spread peace and happiness?

Secondly, even without the offending Terezin sentence (is there anybody out there who heard the speech or has a recording of it?) the comment about people wanting to go back to the bad old days is indicative of the argument. What exactly is so wrong with the “old purely nation state way of doing things”?

Thirdly, and most importantly, the rejoicing in the ending of the Second World War (though not, apparently, of Nazism) seems to forget about Communism (mentioned explicitly by President Bush though no mealy mouthed Commissioner) and completely ignores a basic historical fact. I mentioned it above but it bears repeating.

It was national pride and a desire for national as well as personal freedom that fought and defeated both Nazism and Communism. We must remember that and rejoice in it. (And no, I have not forgotten the role played by the United States and Canada, both nation states, in the defeat of the twin evils of Europe.)

In the meantime, what are we to do with the new Ministry of Truth that is headed by the fragrant Commissar and her flagrant and shameless re-writing of history? I would appreciate it if the replies were reasonably polite.