Last week I was at the book launch of my friend Gail McPartland’s first novel, Code 998. Set in Nazi Germany, it tells the story of a young, gay doctor whose Nazi fiance sends her for rehabilitation to cure her of her homosexuality. It is not an easy read, in fact the crime writer Douglas Skelton has described it as ‘moving but terrifying stuff.’
Although Jewish persecution by the Nazis has been given much deserved attention, what happened to gays, Romas and political prisoners also demands recognition for the suffering they went through at the hands of Hitler’s regime.
Gail spent much time researching her topic and spoke to many survivors of the Holocaust. Howard Singerman, of the Gathering the Voices project, spoke of his family’s experiences and read a poem he’d written for his mother. Libby, the daughter of another dear friend, the late Dorrith Sim, was also there and has done much to carry on her mother’s work in telling her story to those unaware of the atrocities carried out at that time.
Dorrith was only seven years old when her mother put her on a train out of Germany, the Kindertransport, to carry her to safety in Scotland. She never saw her parents again. They perished in a concentration camp.
Dorrith’s book, In my Pocket, is a picture book for children telling her story in terms that young children can understand and appreciate. During her lifetime Dorrith visited many schools to tell her story to the pupils.
Nowadays, many younger people are quite unaware of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis and those who have first hand experience of it all are concerned that, as they grow older, there are fewer and fewer survivors to tell their stories. Gathering the Voices, along with these books, are sources to ensure that it is never forgotten.
Lest we forget.