The battle for the Holocaust legacy

In the travelling over the past fifteen years or so, I reckon I have visited several dozen memorials to Hitler’s destruction of the Jews. I have been to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem; to the Polish museums and memorials commemorating Auschwitz, Treblinka, and the Warsaw ghetto; to uncounted monuments and plaques, wrecked synagogues …

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Spurning Bush

As I write this, thousands of ardent young people are boarding trains and buses, heading towards Spain, towards Sweden, towards just about every place that President George W. Bush might possibly appear in public on his first state visit to Europe.

Secret agent man

Over the past few days and weeks, much has been made of the “mystery” of Vladimir Putin, the man who now runs Russia. Yet in some ways, we know far more about him than we ever knew about the very private Boris Yeltsin.

Ethnic Cleansing, Russian Style

The Chechen wars of the 1990s were not the first time Moscow targeted the Chechens. First there were ‘sneaky Orientals’. Then there were “miserly Jews”. Now, thanks to the power of the international media to transmit ideas across borders, another ethnic stereotype has entered the English language.

I Was Booked on Flight 103

I cannot remember a time when I did not fly on airplanes, and for years and years, I flew without anxiety. Later, after the Lockerbie crash, when I developed serious fear of flying not the odd tremor during turbulence, but the real thing – this previous experience with airplanes helped me to keep it concealed.

The Three Lives of Helena Brus

To the citizens of safe, happy countries which have never known war and occupation, the lives of ordinary people in less safe, less happy countries can seem extraordinary indeed. Here, for example, are three scenes, three moments in the life of a Polish woman, born in 1919.

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