Colin Richmond, 13 February 1992
‘The impact which the newsreel films of Belsen made at the end of the war was enormous,’ Alan Borg, the Director-General of the Imperial War Museum writes in his foreword to The Relief of Belsen, a collection of eye-witness accounts. ‘Many still remember exactly where and when they first saw these awful images.’ I am one of the many: I sat in about the tenth row (in an aisle seat on the left-hand side) of the circle, the Regal Cinema, High Street, Sidcup, Kent. It was either late April or early May 1945. I was not yet eight years old. Ten years later in Wuppertal, on the fringe of the Ruhr, the German boy with whose family I was staying for the summer said in response to a remark of mine about the catastrophe Hitler had been for Germany: ‘Well, at least he got rid of the Jews.’ There are undoubtedly other reasons why I am writing this piece, yet I know I have to go back to those two experiences, and particularly the first, in order to understand why from the haven of North Staffordshire in the last decade of this terrible century I study and teach the Shoah.