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No.14, July 20, 1998


Diary of an Obsession

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 agenda."

He attached these programme listings:

Nov. 5, 1996: Kaleidoscope (Paul Vaughan): 2 new books on the Holocaust--reviewed by a Professor of modern Jewish history




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 by Nazis."

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 & Listener


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 Holocaust."


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 ovens.

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., 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 our remit."

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