Holocaust Memorial Day - The black triangle

At our HMD event last night, we had 4 incredible speakers, one of whom, Dani Neumann, is a member of the congregation struggling to be awarded disability living allowance and facing constant challenges and hurdles to live on ELA. She spoke incredibly movingly, and has agreed to let me share her words. The sign of the Black Triangle was reserved by the Nazis for 'anti-socials' which as you will see below, included those with disabilities.

The broadway producer Stephen Schwartz once said"the best way to unite a people is to give them a common enemy"
Sad but true. It is never the real enemy but always anunder represented group- a minority.
And not just a minority but a vulnerable one. Why?Because they are less likely to fight back.
The Nazis began their campaign against disabled peopleby convincing the Germans of their economic drain
It is very mucheconomics that are driving current cuts and the campaign is leading to a risein hate crimes against disabled. We are called benefit scroungers, Spat at onin the street and- in the case of one of my friends- tipped out of hiswheelchair by thugs when he was just sitting in the pub having a drink
I am going to read out a list of statements
-These people are costing too much money. We cannotafford for them to be alive. Something has to be done
-They are nothing but a drain on recourses' this is whythere is less for you.
-These people must have done something to disserve it.Its there own fault
-we should be able to pay them less- I mean they areworth less
-Why should they have a choice what they do? They shouldbe thankful we are giving them a job
-Look you see here’s an example of one of those people-didn't we tell you they are all like that the whole group nothing but crocks.
I am sure we can all agree that we find these kind ofstatements disgusting, ignorant, presumptuous not to mention prejudice.
This is what they used to say about the Jews, Blackpeople, women, Gay people. In fact any one of these statements could have beenabout any one of these groups at one time or the other. Thank god that kind ofthing doesn't happen today. Right?
Only it does and is happening today.
What? No way notin Britain!We would never let that sort of thing happen to anyone in our countryespecially a vulnerable group of people
Let me ask you a question
How many times in the news in the last say year have youseen story's about "benefit cheats" headlines like 75% of people onthe sick fit for work. Benefitscroungers living in million pound houses at the expense of the tax payer andso on...
The government’s welfare reform is happening not becausethis propaganda is true but because it needs to save money.
Rather than force tax invading banks and corporations topay what they owe they are working hard, and have at large succeeded, inconvincing the country that the resection has been caused by the benefits paidout to the sick and disabled.
The truth is most people with disability who are capableof working already are.
But the ones who cant are being used as the new popularcommon enemy.
They are being forced to have humiliating and inhumanassessments that are ,by the governments own admission not fit for purpose,flawed and that are performed not by unbiased doctors who rely on medicalevidence but by privet companies who's staff are given bonuses for every sick person they find fit for work.
Here are some facts
-only 0.5% ofdisability benefit claims are fraudulent.
-70% of those found fit to work by the new welfare reformassessments are later after a long and stressful appeal found to be unfit for work and awarded therebenefit.
-The appeals have cost the UK tax payer £80million in the lastyear alone
-Whilst waiting months and in most case's years forassessments and appeals the disabled of the UK are forced to live under povertyline. Suffering the humiliation of having to ask and really on charities tocover basic things like food, heating and housing.
-And are subjectedto abuse and random unprovoked acts of violence in public by complete strangers
But surely once a person has won there appeal they areleft alone in peace to live there life right?
They are recalled a few months later to be given anotherassessment and start the whole assessment , appeal , award cycle again.
How do I know this is true. Well because of thegovernments own published statistics and reports. But also because (and I am nolonger to embarrassed, to proud or to ashamed to admit it)
I am one of thosepeople.
The Nazi campaignstarted by targeting not the Jews but disabled people. They where quietlygassed in the first experiments with Zyklon B, these people were comparativelylow in numbers, were less likely to be missed, could not speak up forthemselves, and had no-one to speak up for them.
Then after a large propaganda campaign that tapped intothe populations anger about the country economic state ,the murder of millions begun
long standing prejudice's like.......
"they thinkthe world owes them something",
"They are a drain on the country's limitedresources"
" they do not work so they are worthless"
"It would bekinder not to mention cheaper to kill them, preferably at birth"
......Are stomach turning yet they are statements I hearfrom people and politicians every day. Maybe not put quite as frankly orbluntly as that but the underlining argument and sentiment is the same.
We are reminded to day that if you do not speak outagainst injustice, when you value a person only by how much they contribute toa community economically, Human life is cheeped.
We are taught as Jews to remember the horrors of theholocaust. But why is it so important to remember? Because if we do not we aredestined to repeat those horrors again and again.
I hope and pray that when we see the warning sighs ,recognize the same patterns that are there time and time again through out thehistory of human rights atrocities that we will stand up with our fellow humanbeings and fight against the mob rather than become part of it.
Let us, as Hilary Clinton put it in a recent speech tothe UN about LGBT human rights, always be on the right side and not the wrongside of history.


  1. I absolutely agree but no one is taught history in this country so there is no understanding of how this works. Some of the statements made by politicians in the last few days have been shocking.
    People will say this is being hysterical but I don't care. What happened in the 30s and 40s in Germany and to be honest in Russia by Stalin is not that long ago. Despite the efforts of the history channel no one is listening. Very very frightening.

  2. I am ashamed to say that I know people who all too commonly use this language. It pains me to see how we`re walking into the same trap the nazis laid in the 30`s. I doubt me forwarding this article will change that, but I have no other means of breaking apart the benefits scroungers argument that people all too rely on - I can`t stick to my guns too much because that shuts off dialogue. I can`t keep forwarding articles of my choice because people will get bored and zone out. People will only hear what they want to hear, and that`s assuming they give a damn to what the activists or even the mainstream media say. Shock doesn`t work anymore. Must think what can be done...

  3. From John Davies

    Dear Rabbi Young-Summers

    I am very grateful for someone with your prestige and respect has made the connection between the treatment of the disabled and the unemployed and the savagery of the Shoa. Some would be outraged about the connection. I am 62 years old. My dad and mum fought in WW2 just because they did not like Hitler, but even they were shocked about the images of the Holocaust The very first time I remember seeing the pictures was of a huge pit with skelatel, skin and bone bodies. I was 12 and when I showed it to my Mum she just said I was too young to have seen that. Anyway I have read and seen a number of films, books on the Holocaust. On the programme World At War a Jewish survivor said he remembered the days the Gypsies came'. I found out late that political prisoners, disabled, Romanies, British and other agents of S.O.E, 'Slavs' the 'undermenschion' [underclass ? ANYBODY who did not fit into the twisted concept of 'perfect race' were rounded up. Lord Liverpool's book on the Holocaust is brief, and as objectively detailed as possible although Lord Liverpool was clear that to be really objective is impossible. He also said that evem his dispassionate detailed descriptions excluded some of the practices- who knows what they must have been- because they were too disturbing to print.

    I would like to see those making folk devils out of all minorities should at least read Liverpool's Book and Yesterday Documentaries, the recent one was about the 'Somerkommando'.

    Thank you once again, without in anyway underestimating the fact that Jews where the prime target, other minorities, including the disabled physically and mental health were targted #

    Yours sincerely

    John Davies


  4. Monic from Paisley6 February 2012 at 10:12

    Thank you for remembering that the disabled were part of the holocaust. Im very scared at the way the media in the UK are all walking into the same trap that the German people did. People get offended when you tell them they are behaving like Nazi's but when you look at the villification of those with disabilities you can see it all happening again and we also have the Euthanasia bill floating around, how long before the Euthanasia excuse becomes a mark of the right to life.
    I hope you are allowed to continue to post as many will disagree with you especially those in power.

  5. thanks so much for writing this..its is great to see that a group of people who historically have suffered so much havent become too insular to look at another "persecuted" minority and see the similarities between what happened "then " and what's happening now..

    I dont think many non disabled people, ( and im not talking about the bigots who attack and call us names here just ordinary , everyday people), understand or can see what is happening and what could happen ... This isnt dissimilar to what happenedin Germany in the 30's and early 40's is it ?

    They are being led to believe twisted statistics and false statements and mistakenly believe them...when you are one of the "insiders" it is frightening and frustrating.

    I wish I knew how we could reach them and make them see before people start suffering and even dying..

    this time round people WILL die but not, I dont think, en masse like in the 2nd world war.. they will simply become more ill, maybe die of what will be put down to " natural causes" ( though poor nutrition,heat and lack of care would probably be more accurate), or by their own hand via " self neglect or suicide

    There was once a phrase " useless mouths" , People who ate and used resources but put nothing back.. that seems to be increasingly what the govt, (and the previous one was little better either, they first employed Freud etc and set the media ball rolling) ,want people to believe we are and "cheating " useless mouths at that.

    I am afraid not just for how things are now but for what, as more people loose their jobs and/or present standard of living, will happen to those of us who cant work and even if pushed into job seeking would never get a job as employers dont want us and cant afford to put in place the things we'd needto stand a chance of working.

    I feel like im living in fear perched on the edge of a cliff as it slowly gets eroded into the sea..

  6. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I recently compared what is happening now to what the Nazis did on my facebook page and blog and I got several people decrying me for it and one particularly violent and hating reply from a friend, so to have a Rabbi point out the similarities makes me feel a bit better that I did the right thing in speaking out and that I have not offended Jews and the holocaust in doing so. Thank you.

  7. I had a family member who told me all about what happened when she escaped germany with her brother. I see so many parallels with today that its scary. I Too have been shouted at by saying there is a connection with the past and today's attitudes. Scary world..

  8. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw. Thanks for posting this informative article.
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  9. Thank you for highlighting this issue. I am disabled and fighting against this horrible system.

    Unfortunately people have already died. Between January and November 2011 the DWP collected statistics showing that 10,600 sick and disabled people died within 6 weeks of being found 'fit for work'. This was obviously too shocking for even the DWP, as from this point they stopped monitoring so we do not know what this figure would be today. Some others have estimated it could be as much as 30,000!

    If you are not shocked by this, what will it take?


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