Remembrance Sunday

Today I will be thinking of those who refused to fight and ended up in jail or even executed because they stood by their beliefs and the soldiers who staged mutinies which brought an end to fighting in 1918.

Today I will be thinking of Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, who were part of the White Rose Movement in Germany. They were executed by guillotine for distributing anti-war and anti-Nazi “propaganda” at their university.

Today I will be thinking of people like Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, who smuggled children out of the Warsaw ghetto and got them new identities with forged documents. When she was arrested, she refused to talk to the Gestapo, even after they tortured her and broke her legs, she STILL refused to talk. Just before she was to be executed, members of her group managed to bribe her executioners to let her go. She then continued resisting the Nazis, under a false identity.

Today I will be thinking of all the people who risked their lives, not because they were paid, lied to, or forced, but because they knew they had to stand up for righteousness. They considered it their moral duty to do so.

What do all these people have in common? They refused to do as they were told. They refused to conform. They were all socialists, anarchists, leftists. Do we ever come across any right-wingers, any conservatives, who do such selfless and heroic deeds for the good of others? Do we ever come across any conservatives or moderates/centrists, who resist totalitarianism? No, it’s always people who would today be branded “radicals” and “extremists”. The sorts of people who would be under constant surveillance from MI5. The sorts of people the Home Office is targeting with these new surveillance and anti-“terror” laws. These people are the true heroes, yet we hear almost nothing about them. We are rarely, if ever, are encouraged to remember those who undermined authority — no matter who that authority was — we only ever remember those who followed orders, who did as they were told.

And what I find very harrowing, in this Big Brother society of ours, is how none of these heroes would have been able to save a single life if the Nazis had the sort of technology we do today. They would have been found out immediately, if they had even dared to resist in the first place.

Remembrance Sunday