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Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture - Britain and the Holocaust: Swastikas, Eichmann and Arson in 1960s Britain

  • 27 January 2021
  • 1.00PM - 2.00PM
  • Public event: Yes  |  Booking required: Yes
  • Online (details will be sent later)

Join us at our Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture - Britain and the Holocaust: Swastikas, Eichmann and Arson in 1960s Britain

Closing date for registrations: 26 January 5.00pm

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 27 January 1945 and remembers those that were persecuted and ultimately lost their lives under Nazi rule.

This lecture from Professor Nigel Copsey reflects on three episodes a decade and a half later relating to anti-Semitism - a swastika epidemic, holocaust denial and arson attacks on synagogues.

The first is the so-called “swastika epidemic”. On Christmas Eve 1959, a memorial stone to victims of National Socialism in Cologne was defaced. Shortly after, in the early hours of Christmas Day, red and white paint was smeared on a synagogue in Cologne. What followed was truly extraordinary. During the next six weeks a “rash” of anti-Semitic incidents afflicted not only the Federal Republic of Germany but also many other West European countries too, and even stretched beyond European shores, to North America, South America, South Africa, and Australia. Significantly, Britain was not immune to this “swastika epidemic”. But it is now a forgotten episode.

The second is the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Once the sensational news broke in May 1960 that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann had been captured and would stand trial in Jerusalem, Britain’s far right embarked on a campaign to deny that Holocaust ever happened. This marked a defining moment in the history of Holocaust denial in this country.

The third is synagogue arson. From 13 March 1965 through to the end of July, a series of attempts were made to burn down synagogues in London and the metropolitan area: at Brondesbury, Edmonton, Tottenham, Bayswater, Boreham Wood, Palmers Green, Finchley Road, Stanmore, Lea Bridge Road in Clapton, and at Beehive Lane in Ilford. In February 1966 six members of Britain’s National Socialist Movement were convicted on charges of arson at the Clapton and Ilford synagogues.

How far do these three episodes challenge the idea that when it comes to post-war anti-Semitism, the British had been so sickened by the Holocaust that hostility towards Jews in British society had disappeared entirely?