Tuesday, 26 September 2017

'Two Roads Diverged in a Brexit Wood'

Tabloids 2016
Daily Mail 1930s















As most of you know, my parents, Hans and Suzanne Flatauer were German Jewish refugees - my mother came from Berlin, my father from Hanover. They met at an international Jewish conference. This was in the early 1930s, when many predicted, correctly, that Hitler's rise to power would mean persecution in some form. Although those who'd read Mein Kampf could deduce what form this was going to take;  a lot of people felt equally that the German population would see through Hitler and his thuggish rhetoric, and vote his party out.

As restrictions on the lives of Jewish citizens began, including their right to education (my mother had to leave Berlin University), and attacks on individual Jews went unpunished, they decided it was time to leave. My mother's family, Lotte and Richard Mannheim came with her and settled in Hendon, north London. My father's parents Raphael and Alma Flatauer, affluent, highly intellectual Orthodox Jews, but maybe not so worldly-wise, decided to stay. They subsequently perished in one of the camps - part of Hitler's deadly 'Final Solution'.

In their absence, my parents' German nationality was taken away, as happened to all who fled Nazi persecution. They never went back, and I was born in the UK, grew up here, suffering racial taunting from time to time ~ age 7, I remember asking my mother why a kid in my class had called me 'a dirty Jew' when I had a bath every night. I was though, to all intents and purposes, a British citizen. I had a British passport, then in time, an EU one. And so my 'story' might have run its course - until June last year, when this country voted to leave the EU.

Me as a student in the 1960s

My parents were stripped of their German citizenship. Soon, I will be stripped of my EU citizenship. As it currently stands, I and my descendants will no longer be able to start a business, work, live, or study freely abroad without restrictions. Once again, other people have removed at a stroke my 'identity' in the name of 'getting back control' and all the lies we have been spoon-fed by the right wing individuals who poured millions into the Brexit campaign.

It would be easy to shrug, and say that everything will be OK eventually. That was what so many German people said, and truly believed. But I don't think I can, because I don't believe it will be. When I read of people being stabbed because they are not 'British', it is time to speak out. When I see the AFD gaining 13% of the German population vote, it is time to speak out. When I see my EU friends having their bank accounts 'searched' for evidence that they are here in the UK illegally, or being discriminated against because the are from the EU, it is time to speak out. When the Home Office sends over 100 letters of deportation, wrongly, it is time to speak out. When our prime minster falsely claims, on my behalf, that 'WE' never felt entirely at home in the EU' (Florence speech) ~ it is time to speak out.

How do you 'speak out'? This is how I do it. I blog. I march. I write letters to the local press. 'But it won't happen here', I am told. 'Oh, we don't mean people like you', my EU friends are told. Same empty words. Same well-meaning but gullible sentiments.
London EU march (with yellow banner)
And I use Twitter, Facebook and every opportunity I can to alert people to the path this country is currently stepping down.

Am I being too alarmist? Well, last week, a caller rang the BBC Any Answers programme and suggested that once all the current EU workers had gone, it would be time to retrospectively deport all those who were born here of foreign parents. The conversation was closed down by the host. But subsequently, many people on Twitter thought the caller should have been allowed to finish what they wanted to say, and it was wrong of the BBC to cut them short. This is where we are today. Where we will be tomorrow, is anybody's guess. But I know where I don't want to be. And so, I hope, do you.




12 comments:

  1. We live in frightening times. I stand by your shoulder in everything you say.

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  2. Great piece. Just too dreadful that it needs to be said. But #Resist we must ��

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    1. If we keep silent, who will speak for us?

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  3. As you know, I'm with you on the barricades - I have no terrible history to frighten me, but just a deep conviction that what's going on is simply wrong.

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  4. In France, where I live, nobody cares/understands much about Brexit, and even less about Ms May's vague motivational drivel! Nada. Not a monkey's.
    There's no particular animosity toward British immigrants, in fact there are no pbs aside from the eternal unfunny jests about frogs, driving on the left etc. Just as things were before, during and (probably) after EU membership.
    The main problem will be ID cards which are headed "citizen of a state of the EU", which will no longer be appropriate. What will happen after Brexit?
    Qui Sait?

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  5. I think we are living in very unsettling and dangerous times. I have just come back from holiday and I hate to think that in a few years I will not be an EU Citizen. My way of tackling it is to campaign for Scottish Independence as the vast majority of us voted to remain in the EU. I do not believe for one minute that we will be better of outside the EU.

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    1. I intend to REMAIN an EU citizen..you can't take away a concept..whatever political party you belong to

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  6. I stand by everything you wrote, Carol and am with you every step of the way. Many of my husband's extended Polish Jewish family died in the camps in WW 11. We now live in Spain and our pension's suffered. 'Brexit'has too many unanswerable problems and we have a pathetic bunch of politicians supposedly steering us in to what?? Dangerous times.

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    1. Thanks Joy. I really think none of them know their history...and I'd include N Ireland in this! It appears Cameron never gave it a thought when he was trying to fend off UKIP and the alt-right Tories by offering us a dodgy Referendum

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  7. With you all the way. Just sorry it has to be said. Iniquitous.

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    1. Indeed. This is the exact and apposite word.

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