We recently watched the film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It’s the story of a friendship between a Jewish boy in a concentration camp and the son of the camp commandant.
Eight-year olds Bruno and Shmuel do not understand the “important work” that goes on in the camp. Part way through the film Bruno’s mother learns the truth about the terrible smoke that occasionally rises from the furnaces. But Bruno’s older sister has accepted the Nazi propaganda. One of the scariest scenes is a lesson on history from the siblings home tutor. Reading (I think) fromMein Kampf, Bruno learns of the terrible “crimes” of the Jews. Among them is the plaintive cry, “the Jew took our jobs”.
Seventy years later, this is still the cry of the strident Nationalists – though it’s no more an excuse today than it was then for persecuting a minority. Those Jews who rose to good positions or achieved wealth worked hard to get it. And in the meantime, many of their countrymen slaved away in poor conditions just to eat.
The same is true today in Britain. There may be a minority who flout the law, but there are many who have been exploited in this “free”, and plenty of others who have worked hard and settled there families here.
It’s time we learned the lessons of history and stopped labelling people who are not like us – because that’s a greater cause of wars than any other.