Cameron sacks Burley over ‘offensive’ Nazi stag party

Conservative Friends of Israel member Aidan Burley, 32, was caught on camera dining with friends, some of whom chanted: “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler”. He was jokingly described as the “candidate for Berlin East” and toasts were made to the Third Reich.

The MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire was fired as a Parliamentary Private Secretary, the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder, to Transport Secretary Justine Greening when the Mail on Sunday reported that he had hired the SS officer’s outfit for the groom, Oxford graduate Mark Fournier, 34.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Aidan Burley behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish”, and Cameron had now ordered a full investigation into the the MP’s conduct. The spokesman added: “In light of information received, the prime minister has asked for a fuller investigation into the matter to be set up and to report to him.”

The leader of Cannock Chase council, Cllr George Adamson, said the MP should resign. He told the local Express and Star newspaper: “He has brought disgrace to Cannock Chase and should resign as the MP. He said he didn’t know anything about the Nazi uniform in advance, and now it looks obvious he knew about it in advance.”

The MP refused to discuss the allegation that he had been responsible for hiring the Nazi costume.

Burley visited Israel this year on a trip funded by the CFI and the Israeli Government, during which he toured Yad Vashem. CFI director Stuart Polak said Burley did not have “an anti-Semitic bone in his body”.

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Legendary Liza stars at Shoah centre fundraiser

Hollywood legend Liza Minnelli, actress Maureen Lipman and broadcaster Richard Bacon were among those lending their support to the Nottinghamshire-based Holocaust Centre. Students visiting the centre have the opportunity to hear first-hand testimony from survivors and are encouraged to speak out against prejudice.

The White Rose Ball – which draws its name from the White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany – was held largely in a party atmosphere with guests enjoying top-notch entertainment. But there was silence at the Park Plaza, Riverbank Hotel as harrowing video testimony from those who dedicate their lives to recalling their wartime experiences was played to a sell-out audience nearly 400.

Taking to the stage to perform some of her hits, Minnelli spoke movingly of a visit last week to the centre – which was founded up by Stephen and James Smith – and the lasting impact its work had on her.

Lipman, meanwhile, questioned how denial of the Holocaust could exist. “The Nazis were obsessed with documentation and processes were filmed as evidence of their triumph,” she said. But, referring to the 30 survivors present, “in the end, as you see from these beautiful people they are the triumph of the human spirit and the Smith family are the incarnation of that spirit.”

The centre includes an educational exhibit aimed specifically at primary schoolchildren and a garden featuring 1,000 roses dedicated in memory of Shoah victims. Dr James Smith – who with his brother was inspired to create the centre after a visit to Yad Vashem – said an important message to glean from survivors was one of hope.

“These people went to hell and they don’t come to the centre and speak of anger and bitterness. They convey their story because they want the world to be a better place in the future.” Stressing the need to deal with prejudice and exclusion today at an early stage, he told guests – including Will Young and Emilia Fox – “We don’t want to be waiting until it’s too late. The warning signs are always there. By the time there are gas chambers and ghettos it’s too late.”

BBC 5Live presenter Bacon, the master of ceremonies for the ball, told the Jewish News that he would visit the centre and ex-pressed hope that many more people would hear about “this living, breathing entity that is trying to impact what’s happening today and tomorrow”.

He said: “Once we get to a point where there are no more survivors, the Holocaust will potentially be seen as distant to a lot of kids as the Battle of Waterloo and Henry VIII. The centre is bringing schoolkids face to face with what happened. And its not just a history lesson – it’s about identifying prejudice and racism now. I don’t think you can ever truly understand what the survivors experienced. But by going to exhibits, by reading, by going to the centre and meeting survivors you get nearer to understanding it.”

The event –¬†organised by a committee centred on the Groucho Club and the brainchild of the Larder family – was described as “unforgettable” by the centre’s chief executive Helen Whitney.

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Secret service to monitor Irving’s death camp tour

Irving, who lost a libel case against Deborah Lipstadt in 2000 after she called him a Holocaust denier, was described by the judge in 2000 as “associating with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism”.

He intends to lead a one-week guided tour of World War II sites in Poland at the end of September, which includes visits to the Warsaw ghetto and Nazi headquarters in that country, as well as Treblinka death camp, where 800,000 Jews were murdered by Nazis in 1942 and 1943.

He is also giving eight lectures in the UK over the next two weeks including in Manchester, Edinburgh and Bradford.

A spokesperson for the Polish Embassy in London said: “The secret services in Poland and the UK are aware of the visit and that he has previously visited Treblinka, and the visit at the end of September will be under strict observation by the Polish authorities. However, because there’s no warrant out for his arrest by either the British or any other EU state there’s nothing else we can do and therefore he’s free to visit Poland and Treblinka.”

She added: “The Republic of Poland shares the concerns of the British Jewish community on this matter.”

Spokesman for the Community Security Trust, Mark Gardner said: “We are aware of these latest attempts to revive his career. He is, however, disgraced and discredited. Nevertheless, his planned trip to Poland appears to be particularly offensive and one can hardly imagine what he will have to say about the fate of Polish Jewry and the Warsaw Ghetto.”

Linda Paterson, chief executive of Yad Vashem UK says she had hoped the Polish authorities would “disallow the visit”.

She added: “For a known Holocaust denier to take people around a concentration camp is totally inappropriate and confrontational.”

Karen Pollock, the Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, described the week-long tour as, “insulting the memory of Survivors”.

She added: “David Irving is a racist and a Holocaust denier who serves no purpose but to further provoke far-right extremists and those who would insult the memory of Holocaust victims and Survivors”.

Irving has been quoted in the past as saying that: It isn’t right for Tel Aviv to say ‘David Irving is talking nonsense and of course Adolf Hitler must have known about what was going in Auschwitz and Treblinka.'”

He has also said that, “Hitler was the biggest friend the Jews had in the Third Reich” and that, “The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune”.

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Jewish family in Nazi house

A Jewish family from Pinner has been shocked to discover their luxurious six-bedroom home was originally commissioned by the Germany embassy in 1937 for Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s foreign policy adviser who was hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.

The Nazi used the mansion as a country retreat while he was German Ambassador to Britain between 1936 and 1938. He then returned to Germany to assist in Hitler’s Final Solution.

The house, on Pinner Hill, was later sold by the British War office. The current occupants are Jewish South Africans who use the residence as a holiday home.

Comedy writer Laurence Marks recently discovered the house’s provenance, and current inhabitants, while writing a new play about Von Ribbentrop.
Marks began researching the infamous Nazi after discovering a watch he has owned since the 1980s once belonged to Von Ribbentrop and contained a hidden swastika engraving.

His offer to give the proceeds of the watch, worth 50,000 pounds, to Jewish charities was “shunned”. He said: “The dilemma of what to do with it has plagued me. However, maybe it’s a bigger dilemma to live in the home once owned by a fully-paid up member of the Third Reich.”

A spokesman for the Pinner Local History Society said: “Von Ribbentrop had a home built in Pinner in an exclusive road in 1937, supposedly with German bricks and labour, paid for by the German embassy. During the war his sister was discovered to be living in it and she was interned as enemy alien. It was subsequently taken over by the British government and sold.”

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70 Years On…..

Most of those youngsters, Tomy included, fell victim to the Third Reich. However, in the months beforehand, 669 other children had been rescued, among them Eve. Their lives were saved by the efforts of one man, Sir Nicholas Winton.

This week as 22 of ‘Winton’s Children’ gathered in Prague for the unveiling of a statue in his honour and to board a commemorative train recreating their journeys to Britain, an emotional Eva told TJ that Tomy was “a kind brother and clever boy”.

“I think maybe he would have followed his father in his profession as a lawyer,” she said. “I think the world lost a good citizen.”

The same could be said of her saviour Winton. “You can’t honour him enough because he’s just such a good man,” mused the 78-year-old, whose husband and cousin have joined her on the trip.

After boarding the steam train on Tuesday, the former teacher has spent the past few days meeting fellow evacuees on a journey which will end at Liverpool Street Station tomorrow – the same location the children arrived at all those years ago.

Choking back the tears, she forecast how she would feel when the train pulled into the station. “I shall remember my English ‘mother’… I think that probably the English people that took us in have not been honoured enough. Some of the children did not have good experiences, but I think that a lot did. They were given more than just safety and a roof over their heads – they were actually cared for and loved and given a future, given an education.”

While this week’s journey covered the same ground the Kinder took seven decades ago, the circumstances and the state of the passengers could not have been more different. Eve said she had left in June 1939 “a bewildered rather frightened little child not knowing where I was going and not knowing what the future held for me”. She would, however, return to Liverpool Street “an adult, reasonably successful, in a happy marriage and having found the remnants of my cheque family”.

“I feel that it has been a kind of symmetrical completion of a lifetime’s journey. We left under very tragic circumstances and we’ve been able to come back and repeat the journey as rounded, happy citizens.”

And she is in no doubt about who is responsible for the opportunity she was given to live out her life. Expressing hope that she would have another opportunity to meet to Sir Nicholas at the station on Friday, she told TJ: “I can’t think of anything better to say to him than simply ‘thank you’. What else can you say? I just thank him for an extra 70 years of my life.”

Among the other Kinder who are hoping to see her 100-year-old saviour on Friday at Liverpool Street is Liesl Silverstone.

A member of the London Jewish Cultural Centre’s Holocaust Survivor Speaker’s programme, she recalled: “When I arrived at Liverpool Street Station, I was very confused and puzzled.

“It will be very strange being there again. The last thing my father ever said to me was ‘see you soon’ and ‘be my brave little girl’. At 11-years-old you believe everything that your parents tell you, but it didn’t happen.”

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