The Holocaust, for those of us not able to remember it, and that’s most of us, is generally taken to refer to the mass killing of Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
Reasonably, in my view, there are also definitions of the Holocaust to include disabled people and Romani people. Here’s an example of Jews and Romani together.
Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins:
I remember one set of twins in particular: Guido and Ina, aged about four. One day, Mengele took them away. When they returned, they were in a terrible state: they had been sewn together, back to back, like Siamese twins. Their wounds were infected and oozing pus. They screamed day and night. Then their parents—I remember the mother’s name was Stella—managed to get some morphine and they killed the children in order to end their suffering.
Quote was from wiki. How utterly sick was this?
Other groups included in the wider definition of Holocaust include homosexuals, transexuals, Soviet and Polish civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, Serbians, Roman Catholic clergy, freemasons, Jehovah’s witnesses, political opponents ie anyone remotely left-wing, people who were mentally ill, physically disabled or mentally retarded. That brings the total of people killed by the Nazis to around 17 million according to one source. That’s nearly a third of the people killed in WW2 ie sixty million.
Of this, the greater part was the Jewish community with an estimated six million deaths.
Here’s a helpful Hitler quote, again from wiki:
As early as 1922, he allegedly told Major Joseph Hell, at the time a journalist:
Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows—at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example—as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews
Racist par excellence. And all this in the pursuit of the master Aryan race of tall, blond, blue-eyed Germans, from a short, brown-haired, apparently blue-eyed, Austrian. I wouldn’t have thought with only one out of four criteria that you would have survived your own genocide programme Mr Hitler.
I live in the Jewish quarter in Gib. Or so people tell me. I suspect anywhere within walking district of a synagogue is the Jewish quarter, but the freeholder of my block is Jewish (and very pro-British), my neighbour on the other side is Jewish, and I suspect the freeholder of the block up the street is also Jewish.
One of the residents in our block is Indian. He’s been here for many years.
‘First the Jews come and establish a base, buy the best places, and start to make money. Then the Indians and the British follow, but the Jews have got it tied down.’
And it’s often been said to me, that one reason for the hatred of Jewish people is their ability to make money. Sheer envy.
I was brought up with Jewish stallholders on the market, so I’ve been used to mixing with them for years and hearing the odd word of Yiddish. They would sell cheap goods on the market and go home to their posh houses in the best part of Leeds. They would get dispensation from the Rabbi to work on shabbat.
Not so here in Gib. Every Jewish shop or business is closed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Religious holidays are strictly observed. If there is any work carried out on a Jewish property over a holiday, a fine is imposed.
My neighbours upstairs don’t use the electric buzzer to get in the block on shabbat. They can’t touch a computer, watch television or use anything electronic. There is no work of any kind. You can’t carry a pen. I mean this is seriously extreme. It doesn’t leave them much to do apart from wander around the streets and talk to other Jewish people who can’t do anything else either.
The men are dressed in their formal black attire with either the little tiny skull caps or huge broad brimmed ones. The women normally wear black too. Long skirts. Long sleeves. Hair covered or with a very broad headband. Flat shoes apart from the odd renegade wearing slight heels. Thick stockings. Draw your own conclusions about whether or not it is prescribed by sexism.
Judaism here is orthodox, and for the most part, Sephardi Jews, who trace their origins back to the expulsions from Spain and Portugal.
And now …. the history lesson
Jewish people have been in Gib for longer than it has been Spanish, or British come to that. Some six or seven hundred years. And without anti-semitism too – apart from – yes, you guessed, when Gib was Spanish.
For those of you who don’t know their history, Jews were expelled from both Spain and Portugal in the 1490s. They are pretty used to being victimised, methinks. They had also been chucked out from the UK in 1290, but Oliver Cromwell decided to allow them back in a few hundred years later. So by the time the Brits had taken Gib, we were a bit more tolerant.
Apparently, Spain added a clause to the Treaty of Utrecht saying that Gib shouldn’t allow Jews or Moors to live in Gib. Well, stuff you Spain, Gib wasn’t yours then (isn’t now) so the Brits promptly allowed Jewish, and Muslim residents.
As ever, Britain was doing deals all over the place, and came to one in 1729 with the Sultan of Morocco, giving his Jewish subjects the right to live in Gib. Twenty years later in 1749, Jewish people were given the right to permanent settlement.
The oldest synagogue in Gib was founded in 1724. It was the first one on the Iberian peninsula since the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s.
It has been rebuilt since then, with most of the current-day building dating from 1812 (cue music Tchaikovsky please)
Gib has four synagogues. The others are in Irish Town, Line Wall, and Parliament Lane.
Back in the 1750s there were around 600 Jews – an amazing third of the population of Gib. These days the number isn’t too dissimilar, around 6-700, but a much smaller percentage of the population, around 2-3%. Despite that, the Jewish community is very prominent and plays a significant part in Gibraltar society.
In the Spanish sieges and in the Peninsular wars, Jewish citizens helped defend Gibraltar. More recently, Gibraltar’s first mayor and chief minister, Sir Joshua Hassan, volunteered as a gunner during WW2 and was one of the few civilians who remained on the Rock when most of the Gibraltarian population was evacuated.
And Solomon Levy, although the eleventh mayor of Gib, has been described as the ‘first civic mayor’ during his period in office from 2008-2009. Momy also served in the British Army spending 18 years in the military. He is noted around Gibraltar for his elegant dress sense, no doubt if there was a best dressed man in Gib competition he would win it hands down.
Do I have a view about the Jewish community I live in? Well, they live within their own community mostly. Certainly we speak to the ones in the block and I have a good working relationship with the freeholder of our block. I may not get invited to social events, but I have made it onto his Christmas card list. OK, so he sends a couple of hundred, but still, I’m one of those :D
We did get asked to price a job for a prominent Jewish family who own stores in Main Street. ‘I’m afraid that’s a bit too rich for our blood,’ came the reply when I sent the estimate. Three or more shops down Main Street and a flash flat in an exclusive block and they couldn’t afford a few hundred quid for a large feature wall? Anyway, we all had the last laugh. We heard from another decorator – who had also priced and been told he was too expensive – that they finally got a nice cheap job. Except the wallpaper got hung upside down.
So I don’t have a strong view about Jewish people per se. Bit tight with their money but good at making it. You could say that about any of us. As sexist and racist as most people. I don’t think they need gassing to death though.
Nor does anyone else who holds opposing views to mine, looks different, doesn’t have perfect health, is LGBTQ, doesn’t have white skin, comes from another country, or goodness knows what. Are we learning the lessons? I doubt it.
Most sources were wiki, but the Gibraltar Jewish Community has a good website here.
My new blog posts elsewhere:
Everypic has one about some Gib history as well. This time it is Catholic religion though.