Phrase stirs up bad memories

On this occasion I feel sorry for the Mayor, Coun Dixon. His otherwise innocent remark about 'Polish prisons' appears to have been ignorant of the fact that to a number of people the mention of a Polish prison means something other than a prison in Poland.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:42 am

It means Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and the other ‘extermination’ camps where hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were gassed to death by Nazis in World War II, some having been experimented on medically, others tortured in other ways.

I remember my mother and I calling on a friend of a friend in the 1960s, some 20 years after World War II. He owned a small private hotel in Brighton.

We knocked on the front door. No answer. We knocked again, and again. No answer. As we left and were walking down the path to go away a window was opened and a voice shouted: “Don’t go. I’ll come down to let you in.”

Sometime later the door was opened and the gentleman inside said: “He’s under the bed. He’s terrified.”

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“Who ?” I asked. “The owner,” was the reply.

“Why ?” I said. “The knock on the door,” I was told.

“What do you mean ‘the knock on the door?’” my mother asked.

“He was in Auschwitz in the war. He is the only survivor of his entire family.”

E Sutherland-Loveday