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How nerdish can you get? All these blogs entirely miss the hypocritical and exploitive use of the word "Auschwitz" by Gordon Brown.

None of the people protesting - I expect - were around at the time - none were involved in the horror story our men found and had to deal with at Belsen. This is being wise (in ignorance) long after the event.

But no! "Auschwitz" has now become a synonym for insincerity and these bloggers ignore its role in promoting profitable tourism.

And Brown's ACTUAL proposals don't amount to a row of beans in practice -- How many will actually GO - 40? -100?

To stir things up is pandering to that ghastly breed - the politically correct

The media are spinning this story exactly how Labour wants it. No wonder they are as high as 34% with this sort of thing.
If one looks at what David Cameron and Lord Hunt have said there has in fact been no gaffe at all.

Nobody has yet noticed the BBC gaffe that Auschwitz apparently happened during World War One:

"It said the government has promised funding for two pupils from every sixth form and college in the country to visit the Nazi concentration camp where millions of Jews were murdered during the World War I."


Gimmick or not, funded or not, the BBC's coverage at least shows there is a real need for the visits to take place.

Ed balls response to this is frankly hysterical but I think at the end of the day the response needs to be me thinks Labour protests too much. The lack of funding makes this a gimmick. end of story.

Whatever the merits of the context in which this was meant to be viewed it is an utterly foolish and insensitive use of language and the furore it has created should have been spotted a mile off!

It’s hard to say what exactly is the best way out of this now, Labour is taking full advantage and the press is responding in a very negative way (and who can blame them)… it’s stupidity and a totally open goal for the Government.

The sad fact is that it was a valid point about Brown propensity for baseless gimmicks which has now been lost thanks to this breath taking lack of tact.

When at school in the 60's we were ALL shown films of the horrors not just a select two.What will be the criteria for selection--the trip will be more of a punishment than a prize surely.Will muslims be encouraged to go?
I suggest this is revisited in the next year or so to see how many children actually go ,as only then can we see if it is a gimmick.Clearly if the young turk at CCHQ who drew up this list had seen the films he would not have included it.

Big error. Cameron suffering for travelling light and, yes, he's just met the big clunking fist.

Like the others who have been to Auschwitz and (the even more emotive) Birkenau, I find it incredible that anyone could conceivably reach for the word "gimmick" in such a context.

Second major cock-up this week.

Time to get a grip.

Well, at least this has got the issue onto the agenda. We need David Cameron himself to tell everyone, very clearly, why this is currently a Brown gimmick and how the Tories would do it properly.

My grandfather's brother was one of the men forced to build the bridge over the Mae Klong at Kanchanaburi. He lived but many of his comrades died.

Visiting there was one of the most emotional days of my life. I recommend that everyone should visit that memorial and the museums there and I guarantee that you won't be able to stop crying.

However it is *complete* gimmickry for the Gov to say "you must visit somewhere but we won't pay for it". The National Lottery funding idea is a good thought, but why pick there specifically - except just for name-recognition politics?

Yes, visit these places if you can - mourn for the dead. Teach it in the classroom. But that doesn't stop this being an unfunded complete Labour gimmick and the fact that it was done as a throwaway announcement and hollow politics makes it distasteful to me.

I think it is merely a case of bad proof-reading on the handout. I find the capacity of some for simulated outrage is boundless. It shouldn't have happened but it has, any reasonably dispassionate person can see the real point despite Ed Balls hysterical, mouth-foaming diatribe of a press release.

I'm afraid we should just admit our mistake here and do the best we can - Cameron has made a complete mess of this - I'm afraid my views of him as leader are diminished by this -no wonder the Libdems are creeping up again - get it sorted

I have to admit that I did raise an eyebrow when I first heard the announcement to send sixth formers to Auschwitz, when there have been other, far larger, atrocities committed (mainly by Communists - Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot et al). Seven million Ukrainians and 23 million Russians died under Stalin, 30 million died under chairman Mao and millions - impossible to calculate - were murdered by Pol Pot. Who cares or remembers about them? As I type, thousands are being tortured and killed by Communist North Korea. Who cares about them?

To pretend that only one genocide happened in the twentieth century is morally obscene.

We should be calling for an International Genocide Day - where children taught and reminded of the evils of extremism. It would also give people the chance to remember those who perished and renew their faith in common human values.

This is one of the things that is best avoided by all parties. Like Remembrance Day, it just isn't a time for point-scoring at all. Everyone should show the due respect.

David Cameron had obviously forgotten the unwritten rule of politics: Lefties are allowed to talk about Nazis, Rightists are not.

There's a very good example of this double standard on Dan Hannan's blog:


It's true, James, that someone should get their backside kicked for poor phraseology; and as you rightly say - it's poor proofreading.

Maybe a bit stronger - poor politics but it's not as though DC has just walked along a street with a teapot on his head shouting "I'm A Hamster". Balls is playing crude spin politics but the actual genuine intention of the comment is very valid.

Someone will always find offence in any comment. For Ashley to describe this as "a complete mess" is over the top.

The BBC will have a moan for a day or so, but the more intelligent media will recognise that there is no real story here and will return to Labour sleaze soon enough.

Justin, I've been arguing this one myself for ages and I know you have too. Katyn Forest? The Killing Fields? The Cossacks? Che? the Gulags and salt mines?

I deleted that bit of my original post to keep it shorter but yes - distance and political spectrum should not distort our childrens' view of who else was evil.

By the more intelligent media... go to Sky News blog.

They make it clear what was intended.
They make it clear Cameron didn't mentioned Auchwitz in his speech and that it was an accidental but stupid press office mistake which will give unintended offence to some.
They also describe Balls' 'incontinent response' as 'unpalatable'.

This will not look good if not fairly reported. The press office has been niave and some journalists are lazy. But even the most cursory examination puts Balls in the dock of cynical political opportunism - where he belongs.

This is quite an incisive comment on the whole thing.


No gaffe at all.
It's interesting to see the Labour sycophants coming out of the woodwork on this, waving the holocaust card.
Sending children to Auchwitz is a sick manoeuvre by Balls to pull in the Jewish vote. I hope they see through it
It's as gimmicky as the £15 a year culture budget for school children,
For a more enlightened view on this, look at the responses on Guido's site.

BBC link
Pretty fair.


I totally agree. There was an interesting discussion on the Guardian a while back where some of the 'dear ones' thought left = good and kind; right = bad and wicked. The reason for this was of course the Nazis. However, when it was pointed out that most 20th century atrocities were committed by Communists - the left - they were incredulous!! They didn't know communism was politically left.

It opened my eyes to the brainwashing and propoganda that has gone on in schools. These school trips are in the same vein.

And,why is the Jewish community so 'upset and offended'. No one said Auschwitz wasn't important or was a gimmick. Shouldn't they be complaining rather more loudly about the attacks they are suffering here and now in this country from Muslims!! Shouldn't they lash out at the hypocritical BBC who constantly attack Israel -for wasn't Israel the answer to the horror of Auschwitz!!

Too many people in positions of authority and influence in this country today, have had a common sense, truth and justice transplant? It is when people don't stand up for these things that the context arises for 'concentration camps' 'cultural revolutions', 'gulags' and 'killing fields'.

I think that Justin's suggestion is an excellent one. The horrors that are perpetrated by various regimes around the world should be taught and acknowledged although no doubt there are those who would prefer that they be airbrushed out

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Of course it is a disgusting and exploitative gimmick, but pointing it out as such is what Sir Humphrey would wincingly call 'brave'.I think we should be wary of anything that energises the discredited and depressed liberal elite and convinces them that they do actually stand for something.

I am a head of History who has yesterday sent two students to Poland on this scheme. All but £99 per student was covered - we as a school funded this from our Humanities College specialist funding. The experience was amazing for the students and they will work with younger students on their return to school. The scheme is fantastic and the HET do a great job working with schools. Shame on DC over this one - This is a fine example of the voluntary sector working with the public sector so what is there to moan about.

I am, however, left feeling a little sick by the way this thread has turned slipped into a faux debate about left/right nazi/communist politics.

Well I do hope Mr Bedson that your 'sickness' is cured by the knowledge that you give your children a good all round teaching of 20th century history and why it was as it was!! Because I am utterly sick of the biased propaganda that many young people seem to emerge with from schools. And I see it every day on the pages of the Guardian - and in the students I teach!!

Keith Bedson,

How lovely for you and your school.

There are 17 schools in England receiving "Humanities College specialist funding" What do the rest do?

Yes it is just a gaffe.

But it is clear that the teenage scribblers at CCHQ need to visit Auschwitz and learn some real history.

Mr Bedson.
You are benefiting from the arrangement. Good. [You clearly teach in England].

But, when the announcement was made, the HET thought that two children from every school would be paid for. So did the taxpayer.
That was the substantive announcement.
It was only when the 'fine print' became available did the HET realise they would need to contribute getting on for 30% of the cost per student and that it was not available to the Scots and Welsh. [Do they need it less?]

Some representatives of HET raised the matter with DC and the Govt.
The point of dispute is clear.
It was not to critise the HET rather than supprt them.
There is a clear party poltical interest here in delibrately misunderstanding.
Irinic really, all things considered.

Steve, there are more than 17 (100+). There are also a large number of other specialist colleges of other designations who could use their money in this way. Also some schools have raised money via PTFAs etc. Others have simply asked students to contribute. Schools are not so short of money that they cannot find £198!

Miranda - yes we do provide a full and rounded view of the C20th. However, I still think that the Nazis racial motivates, the industrial scale and methods of the killing and the mass involvement of the German people and state makes the Holocaust a unique event that means it stands out against the other examples mentioned on this page. No other outrage on this page has all of these elements.

Terrible spelling...???

The Government have utilised Auschwitz to make a party political point and spin the coverage of the failed promises of Brown.

And it's the Tories that are somehow to blame.

I'm just speechless. Really. I hope the party sticks to it's guns, and notes that it is not the Tories who make announcements about the Holocaust to make the headlines and fail to follow through.

I fear the research Dept at CCHQ has gone the way the press office did before the appointment of Coulson.

Juniors out of their depth who need a bit of experience and direction. They have to appoint a proper Director and Deputy. if not then appoint somebody to oversee those roles who is a serious player!

A real shame as the Political section was the traditional powerhouse of CRD. I hope this isn't a case of cameron's office being scared of impressive figures at CCHQ in case it threatens their powerbase and influence. That is certainly why they had junior figures running the media operation immediately after DC became leader. It just shows a lack of self confidence.

Gee...what a non-story.

I am absolutely horrified to see some of the comments appearing on this thread. I honestly thought I would never see the day when members of my own party could denigrate the memories of Holocaust victims in such a disgusting manner. We need to take a step back here, urgently, because we are in danger of becoming the monsters that our critics accuse us of being.
Stop this, now!!!!


Have you actually read the comments? How much do you get for writing such rubbish?

A serious charge.
It requires you to be specfic.
Who has here has denigrated the Holocaust?

I read people who support the work of the HET and people who wish to widen the work by both incorporating more people in to the scheme and including education about other suffering at the hands of prejudice and inhumanity.
Are you suggesting that we do not look at other cruelty?
Ignore Rwanda?

The relevance of the Holocaust can still be seen today in the suffering of diverse people around the world.
Jews still suffer anti-semitism on our own shores in the 21st century and much of it goes unreported.

Surely the value of this education lies in understanding that Auschwitz is symbolic of man's ever present ability descend into gross inhumanity.

"the mass involvement of the German people"

Keith Bedson, what you say is not true. How on earth could the German people have been involved on a mass scale if killings were meant to be a state secret? This is anti-German propaganda, like the lies told over the Katyn massacre and the nonsense from the first world war about Germans eating babies, in fact even Jewish groups now admit that the stories of Germans using corpses to make soap was just war propaganda. People died at Auschwitz and that is a tragedy but I feel politicians like to make capital out of jewish suffering, will there be school trips to honour the German civilians exterminated in a fireball at Dresden or those Russians that were starved to death at Leningrad? The answer is no because politicians have learnt that talking about Jewish suffering scores big in the media. Auschwitz should not become a political dartboard, the way politicians are using Auschwitz to promote themselves is highly distasteful. Equally it is distasteful to blame the ordinary German people for the holocaust.

I don't know if its just me, but at the moment a lot of the actions CCHQ seem to be doing recently are just aimed at trying to score meaningless political points, this is easily seen right through by the public, Its getting tedious and is also prone to cock ups. The Northern rock response was also a bit silly. It felt like our response was to be difficult for the sake of being difficult.
Sounds like CCHQ needs to hire some proper economists, historians etc.. so at least there is some proper advice floating around and depth of knowledge expanded.

When you're in a hole the best thing is to stop digging!! This is a no win situation. The best Cameron can do is to admit to the cock up, say he's sorry and hope to hell the media moves on. Given the incompetence of the government there's bound to be something to distract the media's attention soon enough, unless of course CCHQ keeps handing them golden opportunities such as this!

Andrew Porter's article in the Telegraph is a very partial unfair account.
[I have had it with that paper. Cancelled my subs months ago.]

It is astonishing when you compare it with the BBC account http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7259506.stm.

The little good to come out of it from my point of view is being able to email the BBC account to some of my DT buying friends and family.
For those who only buy the DT it is hard to get across the unfair unbalanced negativity of that sometimes springs from this former friend. Much easier though when you can present a much more favourable version - from the BBC!
Two subscriptions down...

A non-story if there ever was one.

The real story is why we are not paying for pupils to be sent for a tour of the Western Front in France with compulsory visits to the Thiepval Monument on the Somme and/or Tyne Cot in Flanders, or alternatively the Ranville Cemetery in Normandy. Such visits are surely entirely appropriate to and consonant with teaching our young people about the values for which this country stands.

The context of the remark is not offensive and it requires very little intelligence to see that. Ed Balls is therefore attempting to twist a serious accusation into a 'nasty party' debate. I am surprised at the initial reaction to this by commentators, as it's re-enforcing the Labour line. Look, going forward, this can go either way, positive is the attention to the original point, i.e. failed Labour pledges, or against us, i.e. we react to the accusation and not the point.

Exactly Oberon. It wasn't a gaffe. Auschwitwz was an obscenity,claiming political credit for sending a few schoolchildren there is a gimmick pure and simple. Pointing that out is neither anti Jewish nor pro Nazi. I'm amazed that this story has achieved the prominence it has.

The disrespect isn't the Conservsatives raising the issue of Brown's unfunded gimmik trips, but Labour using Auschwitz to score cheap political points.

Tony Makara

Who designed the oven, gas chambers etc? Who drove the trains? Who watched the Jews being deported, beaten and humilated. Who took over their property and watched Jewish children being excluded from schools?

Eqaully, who voted for Hitler and his anti-Jewish platform in 1933?

I think David Irving lives on these pages.

Read a bit of History from this period and you will see the scale of involvement.

Basic political tactics include the rule "Do not mention the Nazi era unless you know and the readership knows exactly what you are meaning". Cameron should have seen this coming a mile off. Weve had examples of mistakes like this in the past few weeks. Lets not forget the Foreign Affairs Committee reference to Goebbels and Miliband over the Lisbon Treaty. Miliband got an apology and it got a full page in the Mail I recall. An argument a couple of weeks ago about whether Poland was ever 'fascist' between a Labour baiter and Kawcynski.

Yes it is a gimmick as the Government are only paying 2/3s of the trip and the only ones who will be going are the ones with a massive interest in it. The ones who should go to learn more are going to be those who dont care much about history (similar to the Tory plans for National Citizen Service). Its a massive over-reaction by the press (BBC News 24 put it out as a Breaking News story in the same manner in which it reported the sentencing of Mark Dixie and Steve Wright yesterday...in fact they were more emotional about the Cameron story) but the rule holds firm, dont mention the Nazi era unless it cannot be put out of context.

Cameron is right, but you just cant say it in todays world. Some issues are still taboo.

That this is an emotive subject means we need to discuss it even more objectively. David Cameron is a leading member of Conservative Friends of Israel, and is by no chalk an anti-semite.

He is also right (wake up Greg Hands) that the scheme is a gimmick. School students learn about the Holocaust well before the sixth form as a compulsory topic.

There could be major embarrassment if we send loads of ill-disciplined sixth formers to a place of such international sensitivity.

The Telegraph puts the cost to schools at £4.6 million. The money could be better spent in alleviating the debt that many sixth-formers will take into postgraduate life.

Is it a coincidence that a Labour has launched this scurrilous attack on David Cameron as the Jewish Chronicle is laying into the government after it has been embarrassed by a leaked dossier on Israel?

Theres a lot of point missing going on here.
The rush job document was a silly attempt at diverting Browns "student politician" jibe at Cameron.
Tory polling shows this charge is highly damaging if it sticks.
And that of course was sticking because of the laughable response by the leadership to Northern Rock.
If Cameron read the document he should have spotted this.

"There could be major embarrassment if we send loads of ill-disciplined sixth formers to a place of such international sensitivity."

Who said we had sent an army of louts to Poland? Gosh, this thread is just packed with nonsense.

I think the Conservatives should stick to their point, that yet again Gordon Brown’s headline grabbing initiative has been shown to be less than the spin. So if anybody should apologise its Gordon Brown for using the Holocaust as a headline garbing initiative and Labour Ministers who have work themselves up into a frenzy of manufactured out rage in order to score some cheap political points.

Wait just a second: Ed Balls press release starts "This is a truly disgraceful remark from David Cameron..."

As Guido says, Blinky is at it again, Cameron didn't make any remarks about this. Still, takes the heat of his lovely wife and Northern Rock.

BBC is showing footage of Cameron whilst reporting this story all morning. Coulson needs to get out of bed and onto the phone about this. Labour propaganda broadcasts.

This is a media-manufactured "hoo ha" whipped up by those of a left wing persuasion (and shame on Lord Janner for using what I regard as emotional blackmail!)

I am Jewish and do not have a problem with what David Cameron has said, one iota! The "gimmick" is Mr Brown's use of trips to Auschwitz to court popularity - not the trips to Auschwitz in themselves which of course can do nothing but good in educating young people about the Holocaust and the Nazis' treatment of the Jews.
I am quite sure the furore will die down and I hope that moderate Jews like myself will come out and decry this nonsense once and for all!

Gaffe? What gaffe?

The Auschwitz trips are a ludicrous, unfunded gimmick. Everyone knows about the holocaust. It is on television constantly, and I, certainly, was taught about it in RS and English, and numerous assemblies, on top of in history at both primary and secondary school level. The "final solution" is probably the world's best known atrocity. There is no reason why we should specially send children to Auschwitz any more than to one of Stalin's death camps.

If Gordon Brown is really concerned about terrible atrocities commited in foreign countries, he might try spending his time and our money on doing something about the goings on in Zimbabwe and Sudan.

The Labour line taken by all and sundry on this issue is quite astonishing.

I agree with Mr Maskell's words, above, except that I see no reason not to fight the idiot left rather than keel over and stick a sock in one's mouth rather than hold the government to account over blatant electioneering at taxpayer expense.

Whatever the shortcomings of Labour's original policy and of Balls' revolting exploitation of the CCHQ gaffe, what should concern us most is that the gaffe was made in the first place.

It is not that those responsible are anti-semitic, a charge for which there is no evidence, but that they are collosally ignorant and insensitive.

Fair point IRJMilne. I guess its a manner of personal taste really. The choice is about its worth the risk of a political furore like this. Is it worth the trouble?

As I recall from my time at College a few years ago the Holocaust formed the synoptic paper in the History A Level (A2 final exam).

I have just written a £100.00 cheque out to my daughter's Grammar School for a trip her "A" Level History Class is making to Auschwitz in October and I know I will have to pay another £200 before the end of the acadmeic year.

So when the Government announces these trips will be subsidised that as far as I am concerned is a gimmick and it those circumstances CCO got it right.

In her GCSE History Class, she went in 2006 to the Somme Trenches (again paid by us)

I can criticise aspects of the History syllabus which concentrate too much on Hitler and WWII For instance it is fair to point out that anti-semitism is nothing new. Edward I expelled the Jews as well as mudering all men, women and children in Berwick yet is regarded as a great law-maker

Keith Bedson, trying to blame the ordinary German for what happened as Auschwitz is like trying to blame the ordinary American soldier for what happened at Abu-greb. The concentration camp regime was run by small numbers of people working in isolation. The German population were just as horried to discover what was happening as anyone else.

Sally Roberts, as a Jewish person how does it make you feel when you see politicians trying to whip up publicity over the holocaust? Certain politicians have got wise to the fact that mentioning the holocaust brings them a lot of media exposure, because it was such a huge historical event. So it certainly looks like such politicians are using the suffering of the jewish people to promote themselves. The case of the trips to Auschwitz is a very clear example of this. Politicians are using human tragedy as a political tool.

Keith Bedson, trying to compare people on this site to David Irving is pretty contemptible. No one here has tried to argue that the Holocaust didn't happen, or to trivialise it. Most people here, however, have raised very legitimate points about this issue.

My own view is that the Germans behaved no better or worse than the mass of humanity behave when ruled by dictators. A small minority of psychopaths and fanatics actively participated in the mass murder of Jews, a small minority were heroes, and the large majority kept their heads down.

The real problem here is again the lack of common sense in CCHQ. The press are interested in stories, even more so in stories with "controversy". After the presentation errors in Lansley's lists of hospitals under threat perhaps a bit of checking by someone with understanding of the press would be sensible.

Rather then "Trips to Auswitchz" why not "Underfunded school trips"

I'm surprised that number 16 on this press release hasn't attracted more attention:

"Screening tests: cervical cancer"

We should at least have the decency to acknowledge the few good things that NuLab have done, rather than poke fun at a cancer screening programme.

I'm so embarassed by this list - who on earth in CCHQ allowed it to go out?

It caps a really disappointing week for us. Osborne's pathetic response to Northern Wreck and now this.

As I said it appears that they have downgraded the Research Dept with recent appointments of relative juniors etc

That is the problem here!

They previously addressed a similar issue with the press office.

It's wrong to simply blame junior CCHQ staff. David Cameron delivered the speech after all.

What rubbish. This wasn't a "gaffe". I hate the way we all have to loose all ration when talking about anything with the word Holocost. The State sending people abroad anywhere is something I'm not particulary fussed about. Why Auschwitz? There are thousands of places where attrocities were committed. What about Cambodia to see Pol Pot's killing fields etc etc.

Oh please. Can we all get a grip of ourselves. This sort of stuff really turns people off politics.

What are we saying? David Cameron is anti-Jewish? People love to be offended.

Sear Fear, very good points. I wonder how many of the high falutin moralists here would actually stand up to be counted in a totalitarian regime? If some German civilians were silent on the issue of human rights it is quite understandable when viewed from the time-frame they were living in. Having no public forum for protest the ordinary German citizen, just like the ordinary Soviet or Cambodian citizen cuts a pretty small figure who would only be creating problems for themself and their loved ones if they tried to protest. Totalitarian regimes do not think democratically and an individual acting alone would most likely die a lonely annonymous death. So its little wonder that people are silent about human rights abuses when they occur in a totalitarian system. The attempt to blame ordinary Germans for the genocide in world war two doesn't take into account historical perspective, a case of trying to apply democratic thinking to totalitarian regimes.

Judging from these self serving comments, you guys really are going down for the fourth time at the next election.

Labour should be the ones apologising for their hysterical reaction designed to distort what David Cameron has said to their political advantage.

No Tony, your comparison is silly. The US public knew nothing of it - the mass of the German people did play a role of some sort. They were, in Goldhagen's words, "Hitler's willing executioners". The Nazis were a dictatorship with a very broad appeal and won power with the support of the some most educated and affluent members of German society. They were able to stay in power because of this support and their "success" in carrying out the "Final Solution" was underpinned by the support of the German people. Read Lawrence Rees's book on Auschwitz for evidence of this - the account of civilian engineers advising the SS they had been too generous in their design of sleeping space of Jews in Auschwitz is an eye opener, as is the memo to another civilian company containing a design brief for a gas chamber - a design the civilian company carried out with gusto. Put on top of this the thousands of Jews who were enslaved, and supervised by, civilian businessmen who happily worked them to death for the sake of a quick profit. You could also read the research from the recently-opened Gestapo files which contain numerous accounts of willing informants denouncing Jews and other "undesirables".
The Germans accept this, but some posters on this site do not. Why, because they want to try and correct some feeling of injustice against the Nazis. This feeling seems to stem from a belief that left-wing killings get less coverage. This misses the point that the teaching of the Holocaust in schools is not done as a left/right ideological exercise. Rather it is done as a vehicle for looking at prejudice, discrimination, genocide and moral choice. Indeed most teaching materials, including those from HET, contain sections on other mass-killings from modern times and throughout history.
If we can get back to basics:

1) This was a gaffe in that there was no need to mention Auschwitz - The Labour party have made enough mistakes without scratching at this wound.

2) The scheme is a good one and the extra £198 to send the students is not hard to find - but the government should have funded it anyway.

3) The visits have great value to the students - I can give you the names of two students from my own school that have got a great deal out of a visit last week.
4) This is a great way of keeping the memory of the millions who died alive. It is also a great way of remembering the reasons why Britain fought the Nazis and why so many British lives were lost.

The students who went to Auschwitz last week will probably marry and have children in about 2020. Their grandchildren will be born in about 2050. If the students last week tell their grandchildren about their visit to Auschwitz it will mean that the memory will live on until around 2130. That's why I spent £198 of my budget sending two teenage boys to Poland.

Very suprised at the muted reaction from CCHQ. Whilst I think Ed Balls behaviour is characteristically disgraceful it looks like he has probably won this one and the serious point about government by gimmick will have been lost because of the attitude of the BBC and the supine reaction of CCHQ. Caroline Spelman should have been all over the airwaves today explaining why these part funded trips to Auschwitz are exactly what was claimed ,a gimmick.
Keith Bedson I certainly hope that your school is absolutely awash with money because it is perfectly possible to teach children about the holocaust without sending them to see an empty concentration camp as it possible to teach about the horrors of WW1 without going to the trenches.
If your school is awash with money then sending them to Yad Vashem in Jersulaem is an infinitely more powerful and moving experience.

Bob Ashley @14:19 I quite agree with you sir..for people on here to blame the bbc or the brown machine is just petty point scoring,if Mr Cameron had read this properly he would have noticed the gaff and if he did notice it and still decided to go on with it then thats even worse,Mr Brown has accused our leader of childishness recently and student stlye politics and i have to say its starting to stick with some on my work mates,stop this useless point scoring and start taking some blame i fear they will punish the torys at the next election if mr cameron doesn't start to act like a statesman and give a good alternaive instead of what he thinks is wrong all the time let him tell us what he thinks is right and why its best for the country and don't keep droning on about the current government as that tactic is failing in very big way and only works within the westminster villige if they agree with you but i can feel that the press has grown a little bored Dave and if he doesn't grow up soon they will crucify him as they have with our last 3 leaders

I am surprised how many of those posting here miss the point of this entire episode. It is commendable that many would debate the merits or demerits of sending students to Auschwitz, certainly an issue that should be debated seriously in the context of how we should teach students about the origins and consequnces of the holocaust. However, the press release from CCHQ was not about that. It was intended, rightly, to focus attention on the "gimmicks" of this government, by in effect using a PR gimmick themselves. Now, there's nothing wrong with using a PR device to highlight your points and get media to focus on your message. BUT, when you live by the sword you also die by it. Is Labour overplaying this? Yes. Is Ed Balls manufacturing outrage? Yes. But this is not the point. In politics, whenever you are put in a position that you have to explain or contextualise a remark (or in this case a press release) you've lost! All everyone sees is the initial cock up and not the explanation. So, stop justifying it, apologize and move on....
The good news about this episode is that (1) it is not all that important in the scheme of things, and (2) we are still at least a year--maybe two--away from the next general election giving the party enough time to learn from its mistakes and develop a truly powerful and successful attack machine!!

CCHQ should do better at avoiding giving Labour free ammo to fire at us. It was a gaffe. Say it was. Don't try to defend it. Then, as TB would say 'move on'.....and chastise Tamsin Lightwater or Wonky Tom or whoever put it in the list, presumably to make up the numbers.

"Sally Roberts, as a Jewish person how does it make you feel when you see politicians trying to whip up publicity over the holocaust?"

Tony I don't like it - but I can see the difference between making a genuine point about the Holocaust and scoring cheap political points. I believe Labour and Brown do the latter and shame on them!

Keith Bedson, all I can say is that I'm glad you didn't teach my child because your understanding of history is poor and sadly is rather typical of most people's black and white interpretation of world war two. Your assertion that Conservatives are more concerned about left-wing war crimes lends credence to your political bias. Sadly it is all too easy for politicians to get their face on TV by talking about the holocaust, it plays well in the media because people are moved by those events. However we have to differentiate between what is a genuine reference to a tragic point in history and what is using genocide for self-publicity. That I believe is at the root of all this.

Just remember, this is not a cosy forum for Conservatives to debate with each other, it is a public arena in which non Conservatives wind up a bunch of gullible Tories into slagging off their own Party in public.

This particular non-debate is so easy to see through. Here's how it works:

1. Post anonymously
2. Pretend to be a Tory
3. Show mock "outrage"
4. Keep dripping in allusions to CCHQ which will make readers think you are a Party activist. This is particularly important because it is good to create an apparent sense of hostility towards your own organisation, and everyone is susceptible to a tilt at "Head Office".
5. Sit back, stroke your Labour Party membership card affectionately and enjoy the spectacle of the usual handful of nutters (who in all fairness probably did deliver a few Tory leaflets today) proceed to try to undo any good work they may have done by discussing in public their Leader, their Press operation and anything else that will give encouragement to their opponents.

The ironic thing is that the Tories who slag off their organisation to an unknown bunch of people on this site, would probably be quite careful to be loyal to their Party when out canvassing!

Tony, I too am glad that I was not taught history by Keith Bedson.

Tony and Sean,

Play the ball not the man. What's wrong with the historical argument I put forward. What have I said about the Second World War that is so wrong? I have cited sources and given evidence for my arguments. You two have simply asserted you own opinions about the German people in the period 1933-45. I would ask you this - explain how the Holocaust, which was a massive industrial process involving thousands of people, happened without the support or involvement of the German people.

I am not the one who brought up the idea of left/right crimes - that was done by others. I have said that the whole thing is bogus. By the way, I did not say "Conservatives" on this site, I said "some posters" - I was not attacking a group.

Malcolm Dunn,

I think I have made the point that the trip is about much more than teaching about the Holocaust. But £198 is not a huge sum of money. I spent 0.000044% of of our school budget on the visit. Our school is not awash with money and the huge cost of sending them to Israel would not be a good use of resources. It strikes me that if the argument is coming down to this sort of attack then its running out of steam.

Editor, please have some sense and refrain from referring to this as a 'gaffe'.

Keith Bedson, you were the one who brought up spurious comparisons with David Irving on the part of posters to this site, so you can't complain about playing the man.

However, I will deal with your substantive point. Ian Kershaw explains that anti-semitism was a key issue to the most fervent Nazis, but repellent to most German voters, so it was downplayed in the period 1930-1933, in favour of anti-marxism, attacks on the system, and promises to reverse the outcome of Versailles. Most Germans who voted Nazi in 1933 were not voting to conduct a pogrom, let alone the Holocaust.

WRT the Holocaust itself, the regime went to considerable lengths to keep what it was doing a secret. Himmler himself described the mass killing of Jews as "a chapter of glory in our history that must never be written about and will never be written about." Plainly, a large number of Germans participated in the Holocaust, but to attribute support for the Holocaust to the German people as a whole is unreasonable, as unreasonable as arguing that because large numbers of Russians/Chinese/Cambodians were murdered by their respective regimes, this could only have been done with the support of the population at large. People living under totalitarian regimes have to be extremely brave to defy their governments. Most aren't.

Finally, Britain did not fight WWII to end the Holocaust. It fought the war to bring German aggression to an end.

Thanks Sean, now I respect what you are saying. And you prove the whole thing is a debate rather than a black an white issue. "Historian disagree on this..." as many a weak essay starts, but it is true.

If anything comes out of this it is the importance of teaching History as a debate. Some posters, unlike yourself, have posted out of prejudice and that has no place on this site or anywhere else. If you go to Iain Dale's site it is even worse.

You said above that you are glad I did not teach you - the feeling is not mutual - I would have enjoyed having you in my class!

If we set aside the historical debate around who did what, I still think the trip was a good one.

Thanks for spicing up an otherwise slow weekend.

Sean Fear, very good points. The history of world war two is very complicated. Like how we started a way against a country that invaded Poland on the west flank and ended the war effectively ceded Poland to a country that had invaded Poland from the east flank. One thing we can be sure about however is that the ordinary people of each country involved didn't want war, and as you correctly say in Germany supported the National Socialists after faith in democratic politics had broken down and out of fear of the communists who were very strong at that time. Those who voted for the NSDAP were looking for the things every voter looks for, jobs, economic stability, food on the table, a better standard of living. They certainly were not voting for a government to implement genocide. In fact many Germans themselves were victims of the regime including people as inconsequential as so-called moral deviationists, and people who prefered to live as loners, these people were punished for the act of being anti-social. So it wasn't just jews that suffered persecution, although politicians have learnt to exploit jewish suffering to promote themselves in the media.

Keith Bedson you say that some posters have 'posted here out of prejudice'. Really, who?
This is not a historical debate, no one is suggesting that the holocaust was anything other than a monumental tragedy,they are suggesting that part funded trips to Auschwitz are a gimmick,I think they're right.


I don't want to sound cynical, but much of politics is gimmick. Dave on his bike, "Call me Tony", "Time for change". I just think, from first hand experience, that this gimmick is one that has done some good.

Perhaps it is ironic that the master of the political gimmick, Hitler, is tied up in this thread. He was the snake oil salesman who promised Volkswagon, reals jobs, radios and luxury spa holidays. He then only part funded them and did not open them up to all.

Keith, thank you for that generous comment. I agree, that some of the comments on Iain Dale's site were unpleasant and bigotted, but I don't think that applies to any of the comments here.

I dislike Daniel Goldhagen's book because to my mind (and ironically, given the subject-matter) it demonises an entire people.

Sean Fear, exactly right. This is the sort of mass demonization that led for calls for Germans to be sterilized after the second world war. Such sterotypes of entire peoples are the very things that can lead to genocide. It is very sad today that the media has adopted an anti-muslim course, all because of the actions of less than 1% of their number. The Germans fought, and fought well for the most part in world war two, unfortunately there were a minority who were involved in human rights abuses, some sanctioned from official quaters, but the vast majority of the German armed forces and the German people behaved decently during the war. Those who believe otherwise are swallowing the most vile tasting propaganda, which has been discredited by the passing of time.

Yes. Not a matter of 'German traits' but human ones.
Look to ourselves.

Why, because they want to try and correct some feeling of injustice against the Nazis. This feeling seems to stem from a belief that left-wing killings get less coverage.

I think it is down to the fact that Left Wingers openly praise or excuse tyrants who were more or less in the same league as Hitler. Diane Abbott and Mao being just the latest example.

I personally believe that whilst there were some aspects of the holocaust that were unique, it is far from unique as an example of unfathomable evil.

In our own lifetime, the Rwandan genocide is one example, where the perpetrators looked into the terror stricken whites of the eyes of their victims, as they hacked them to death. As someone brought up in the safe environment of Great Britain, I am glad that I cannot understand such actions.

Today in North Korea, someone is being tortured for their lack of obedience to the regime. In Dafur, someone will be killed or raped for the crime of belonging to the wrong group. In Iraq, we see daily the actions fo those who think that they are the chosen group, as they maim and kill the other. Evil is indeed universal.

The point of learning about the holocaust is surely found in the refrain Never Again. The fact that we have stood by and watched it happen again, and some have at times cheered it on, reflects on us extremely badly.

Good I'm glad we agree Keith, it was a gimmick, pure and simple.

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