Seventy two years ago, the British Army’s 11th Armoured Division liberated Bergen-Belsen.
Richard Dimbleby was with them as they entered the concentration camp.
This is what he saw: “… Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them …
“Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.
“This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”
A British soldier, Dick Williams, was one of the first to arrive: “But we went further on into the camp, and seen these corpses lying everywhere. You didn’t know whether they were living or dead. Most of them were dead. Some were trying to walk, some were stumbling, some on hands and knees, but in the lagers, the barbed wire around the huts, you could see that the doors were open. The stench coming out of them was fearsome.
“They were lying in the doorways – tried to get down the stairs and fallen and just died on the spot. And it was just everywhere. Going into, more deeper, into the camp the stench got worse and the numbers of dead – they were just impossible to know how many there were… Inside the camp itself, it was just unbelievable. You just couldn’t believe the numbers involved…
“This was one of the things which struck me when I first went in, that the whole camp was so quiet and yet there were so many people there. You couldn’t hear anything, there was just no sound at all and yet there was some movement – those people who could walk or move – but just so quiet. You just couldn’t understand that all those people could be there and yet everything was so quiet…
“It was just this oppressive haze over the camp, the smell, the starkness of the barbed wire fences, the dullness of the bare earth, the scattered bodies and these very dull, too, striped grey uniforms – those who had it – it was just so dull. The sun, yes the sun was shining, but they were just didn’t seem to make any life at all in that camp.
“Everything seemed to be dead. The slowness of the movement of the people who could walk. Everything was just ghost-like and it was just unbelievable that there were literally people living still there. There’s so much death apparent that the living, certainly, were in the minority.”
It was, it is, and it always has been, a mad, bad and dangerous world. One where despots, dictators and self styled, self proclaimed demi-gods abuse their powers.
One where the sociopaths and narcissists try to shape the world to fit their prejudices and predilections. Where the people are mere pawns in their chilling game of chess, to be discarded or killed at the whim of their leaders in the brutal, futile and ferocious pursuit of some pointless Valhalla.
And today, we are not immune. These dregs of human kind, such as Syria’s Assad, are a plague on humanity. They do not posses between them one ounce of decency. They revel in the misery of others who’s pain and suffering are worthless and meaningless other than as disposable human cargo in their delusional little lives. They are the scum of the Earth.
But the price they exact should make us all weep. And should make us all care. And should be a call to arms.
We cannot sit by. We must not sit by. We did so once and the people of Syria are paying the price. And we must not tolerate those foreign leaders who block us taking action. By their inaction they are complicit. As a world, have we really moved on and learned any lessons, if we are rendered impotent to act by the veto of others?
These new global bullies only understand one thing. And it is not diplomatic dialogue. It is not condemnation in the pages of our newspapers or the dinner tables of polite society. These are people who are pathologically unreasonable and cannot be reasoned with. It is only direct action which will work. It is time the world woke up and spoke their language.
You beat a bully by beating the bully. Literally.