“Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” Sophie Scholl
By Shirley Edwards
(These are my views as a woman living in England, on how the culture and spirit of my country has changed over 50 years. Why the country does not feel protected or strong any more, how it has lost, and is losing it values and decency, and how we are daily losing our free speech.)
Friday 29th August, 2019.
It is pretty amazing what can happen all in the space of 3 days. What had started with a simple trip one Friday afternoon to an air-show to help hand out some leaflets for some friends, had also turned into an unexpected lunch with a young German couple and their child, an evening listening to Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, step-sister to Anne Frank, and a cosy evening curled up on my friend’s settee viewing a new film with a very strange title called ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’.
You just couldn’t have made it all up. Yet the air show, the film and the meetings, although separated over the length of 3 days, were all so closely connected, telling the story of life, sacrifice, death and resurrection, that I had to write it all down. For you see they had also carried another message…….
Saturday 30th August, 2019
As we wandered through the crowds that Saturday afternoon handing out leaflets, some of the spectators and air enthusiasts would have witnessed in the skies the Battle of Britain Memorial flights consisting of Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters. There were warbirds including the Buchon, Spitfire, P-47D Thunderbolt and Mustang; and there was a P-8A Poseidon Surveillance aircraft, which has a wingspan of 40 metres, developed for the U.S. Navy.
Even some miles away you would have been able to hear the noise of their engines even if you couldn’t witness them. Sometimes, and most especially in the evening, they had sounded like thunder in the distance warning people of an impending storm
Some of the planes were very reminiscent of a bygone era. However, on the ground that day there was a strange battle of another kind taking place which were definitely in conflict with the lessons we should learn from history.
A sea of demonstrators all representing many different groups appeared within the crowds. We were faced with people waving blue and yellow star spangled EU flags, people waving rainbow coloured flags, placards were being carried calling for democracy, banners and posters were being displayed to ‘out’ the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and demonstrations against climate change, were all inter-mingled and all attempting to make their voices heard above the sounds of rock music from one area and 40’s swing music from another area. It was all one crazy market place.
The peacefulness at my friend’s home was a very welcome relief as that evening we watched the strangely titled film “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” which tells the true story of the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War and reflects the resistance that some Guernsey residents displayed towards the Nazi’s.
In 2010, it was also reported that testimonies from resistance fighters in Guernsey were discovered by a research team from the University of Cambridge indicating that many resistance fighters were deported by cattle trucks from the island to be imprisoned in Germany. Many, however, also died on the way, and it is reported from those testimonies that the other prisoners were forced to bury them.
Sunday 31st August 2019
The next day as the sounds of the rumbling aircrafts once more filled the skies we left the crowds and joined some friends for lunch. A couple from Germany, with their young child were staying with my friends. They were aged just 21. They were Christian and had a very strong and humble faith. I was particularly struck by their responsibility to their young daughter and how the husband only spoke English to the child whilst the mother spoke German. The young man explained to me how he had been tempted by friends on some occasions to ‘go with the crowd’ but had escaped the baggage of ‘unravelling sin’ by resisting that. He was very keen to know about events happening in the UK, about Brexit, about culture and immigration. They were an exceptional couple who I will always remember. Later, I learned that their child had been born with a serious condition at birth. They prayed for her recovery, and she is completely healed.
Their beginnings in family life, and indeed their future, came to mind as later that day I attended a presentation called A Historic Event with Eva Schloss, who is a holocaust survivor, peace activist, international speaker, teacher and humanitarian. She is also the step-sister of Anne Frank who wrote the book “The Diary of Anne Frank” and is 90 years old.
Listening to her story of how she survived, the escape from her homeland in Austria, two years in hiding in Amsterdam, capture on her 15th birthday, nine months in Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, and her repatriation to Holland was very interesting.
It was sad to listen to how she had lost her father and brother, and very difficult to listen to how the women and young children had been stripped naked in front of the soldiers whilst they decided who would go to the gas chambers. Both Eva and her mother did survive and she stated they were eventually liberated by the Russian army. She went on to be married, have children, and also grand-children.
Whilst listening, I thought about the plight of children who are separated from their parents, and also recalled the 80th anniversary of Harwich Kindertransport, where 10,000 children were evacuated from Germany after anti-Jewish violence known as Kristallnacht in 1938. Many of those children never saw their parents again.
During the evening there was a musical tribute called Ani Ma’amin – I Believe. The history of the music is that it was composed by Azriel David Fastage on his way to his death at Treblinka. A single survivor who jumped from the train later bought the composition to the United States. The song is meant to speak of Eternal Hope.
Eva Schloss stated she speaks about her experiences so that it does not happen again, that we remember the holocaust, and fight the rise of anti-Semitism. She was very honest in her answers saying she would not forgive the Nazi’s. You can read here about Eva’s life.
I came away with many questions and observations about the times we are currently living in.
Monday 1st September, 2019
It was a beautiful morning as I packed my case to return home. The sun was shining and it was very peaceful. No doubt, I would later meet the thousands of spectators who had been attending the air show who would also be returning to their respective homes. I looked at one of the leaflets which I had kept. It spoke of the great mysteries of the air; the first hot air balloon in France, where the cargo was a sheep, a duck and a chicken. It spoke of the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, how a helicopter lands when its engines fail and the disappearance of flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The leaflet then linked to the mystery that the disciples of Jesus Christ faced right before their eyes, as they watched him ascend from the Mount of Olives, 2000 years ago. Some people who had taken the leaflets felt misled that the mysteries that they were more interested in had led them to read about a greater mystery explained.
It had been interesting that my friend had been approached by a local council official who had attempted in a false manner to stop her handing out these leaflets whilst ignoring the demonstrations nearby who had made a religion out of their own particular cause. Eternal Hope, appeared to be an enemy.
I witnessed how the battle between good and evil is continuing taking place and how eugenics, euthanasia, and abortion, which are all trade marks of evil and are symbolic of ethnic cleansing are increasingly being promoted quite openly. I thought about the indoctrination in our primary schools in relation to gender identity and how young children were being experimented upon with hormone blockers and how children were being given a so called freedom and encouraged to ‘choose’ their sexuality or have no identity at all. ‘Nobodies’. Yes, in my opinion, there is a holocaust taking place. Objectors will be silenced.
Monday September 16th 2019
The events of the weekend I spent 2 weeks ago had become a bit of a distant memory until I read a timely article today and was reminded about two German Christians, Sophie and Hans Scholl, who were executed in Germany for resisting Hitler and the Nazi’s. At the time of their beheading Hans was 24 years old and Sophie was 21. They had belonged to a non-violent underground movement in Germany known as the White Rose resistance movement and as part of their activities had wrote and distributed leaflets exposing the brutality that was happening in Germany.
In 1943, after their death, millions of copies of the sixth leaflet called ‘The Manifesto of the Students of Munich’ which had been smuggled out of the country were airdropped over Germany by the Allied Forces.
I was particularly struck by a quotation attributed to Sophie Scholl which reads:
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves – or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”
“I will cling to the rope God has thrown me in Jesus Christ, even when my numb hands can no longer feel it.
© 2019 Shirley Edwards, All Rights Reserved