THE BBC AND THE
Diary of an
One of our English readers,
David Jenkins, has sent us his 1997 correspondence
with the BBC, protesting at their obsession with
the Nazis and the Holocaust:
"Being a reasonably regular
afternoon listener to BBC Radio 4 and a military
historian [he wrote to the Director General on
Dec. 8, 1996] I wish to know why this station
is preoccupied with the Third Reich.
"Not just on a weekly basis,
but virtually every other day mention is made of
Nazis, extermination camps, the Holocaust etc. It
is only the Third Reich that gets the attention. No
mention is made of Japanese or Russian camps or
gulags, or the millions killed under Stalin.
"I fear the BBC's
impartiality has been hi-jacked, with or without
your knowledge by people with a hidden
He attached these programme
Nov. 5, 1996: Kaleidoscope
(Paul Vaughan): 2 new books on the
Holocaust--reviewed by a Professor of modern Jewish
Same week: Afternoon Shift
(Dara Brecon); subject: Evil--a guest quoted Franz
Stangl, as "a guard at Auschwitz, who had killed a
1,000 single-handed" (Uh, wrong job, wrong camp, no
historical evidence of any such event.)
Nov. 10, 1996: British
Remembrance Day afternoon. Nazi Gold.
Nov. 15, 1996: Afternoon
Shift, subject: Nazi Gold (again)
Nov. 16, 1996: Saturday Night
Play. Background of someone in England from Nazi
Germany from Kinder-transport.
Mid-month Various mentions of
"new revelations" from "released documents"
concerning extermination camps on Alderney. (This
information was in the public domain and in the
press 7--8 years ago.)
Dec. 4, 1996: Afternoon Short
Story, Background: Nazi Germany...
Dec. 6, 1996: Kaleidoscope.
Subject: Art from lunatic asylums in 1920s -- Nazi
Germany once again. Missing artists "assumed killed
Dec. 7, 1996: Week ending
Sketch (comedy) Nazis mentioned.
Dec. 8, 1996:Poetry Please.
Trailer announces that next week's edition
"includes a poem about Bergen-Belsen."
THE REPLY from the BBC was a
standard letter from the Viewer &
Correspondence Section. Mr
Jenkins complained to the Broadcasting Standards
Council in London:
"Please find enclosed
[hewrote on Feb. 1] a copy of my letter to
the BBC and their reply. Instead of addressing the
observations, comments and concerns expressed in my
letter, it has simply been dropped down 'the
laundry chute' to the Viewers and Listeners
Correspondence Section. Any answer from them counts
for nothing, as they are employed solely to write
to the public and have no infiuence on policy,
programme making or content.
"The very regular 'drip,
drip, drip' of the subject matter in the question
is clear for all to see.
"A cynic might even suggest
that the inclusion of the Holocaust, camps or Nazis
in a proposed broadcast almost guarantees an airing
on BBC Radio 4, even if totally outside the context
of the subject matter of the programme.
"In the specific case of
Kaleidoscope (an arts based programme), considering
all the books, plays, operas etc. that could be
reviewed, it is totally beyond the bounds of
coincedence that in the seven weekdays (Jan. 23,
24, 27-31, 1997 Kaleidoscope has mentioned Nazis,
the camps and the Holocaust in four of these
programmes (Jan. 23, 27, 28, 31, 1997).
Jan. 23, 1997: Kaleidoscope
(Paul Vaughan) Review of book Fugitive Lives, Anne
Michaels: "a solitary child lives through the
Jan. 25, 1997: That's
History. German POW plans to escape from Devizes
camp thwarted in Nov 1944.
Jan. 27, 1997: Monday
Afternoon Play. [Announced to be repeated in
Feb 1997]: a young child telling her story of
life with cancer set in modern times. The bizarre
participation of "a doctor Bernstein" and the
out-of-context inclusion of death camps and gas
Kaleidoscope (16.oo). Review
of Palenstrina Opera by Pfitzner. Nazi and Nazism
get a mention.
Six o'Clock News. Swiss Nazi
Gold, Nazi Death Camps
Jan. 28, 1997: Kaleidoscope
16.00 (Paul Vaughan). Review of book "Nature of
Blood" by Carol Phillips: a Jewish girl survives
concentration camps of the Holocaust, etc.,
Jan. 31, 1997: Kaleidoscope.
Review of the week"s programmes. Re-mention of
book, Nature of Blood (from Tuesday) -- camps,
Holocaust etc etc.
On Feb. 20 Lord Dubs replied
on behalf of the Broadcast Standards Council:
"The council has been
established, under the terms of reference given to
it in the Broadcasting Act 1990, to consider the
portrayal of violence, of sexual conduct and
matters of taste and decency in broadcast
programmes and advertisements. I am afraid,
therefore, that the matter you raise falls outside