Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A small contribution

On Friday, October 29 I was due to attend and, indeed, report from a very solemn ceremony in Great Missenden: an ecumenical Mass of Reparation for the thousands of victims who are rarely remembered. These are people of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and other parts of former Yugoslavia who were handed over by the British authorities to the Communists and were almost immediately murdered. Indeed, some stories tell of the British actually seeing and hearing train-loads of people being set down and mowed down just a couple of miles away from where the handing over had taken place.

It is incomprehensible to me why those shameful episodes should not be acknowledged (along with such matters as the prolonged silence on what really happened at Katyn). One needs no apologies. After all, we cannot apologize for what we had not done and were not responsible for. But acknowledgement is reparation. The Great Missenden Mass, which I missed for a very simple reason, a very bad cold meant that I could do nothing but sleep all day, is a start of that process. It is time the truth was told.

In the absence of any account I could have written here are a couple of links. One is an excellent article by former Ambassador to various East European and Balkan countries, Charles Crawford, published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The other by Edward Lucas (at least, I assume that is who E. L. is) in the Economist. Do try to read them both and ignore the stupid comments on both, made by people who have as much knowledge of history as I of nuclear physics. Perhaps, even less.


  1. HMG has apologised for the Irish potato famine but not this?

    Also, why was the service in Great Missenden? By coincidence, that village is in Liddington's Aylesbury constituency. It is three miles from Chequers – the Blairs worshipped in that very church, which I know well. But I'm not sure why it was chosen for this Mass.

    There was quite a lot the Brits did wrong in 1945. Thank you for this post. ("Hvala" is one of the 20 words I know.)

  2. I think Great Missenden was chosen because the person who organized it actually lives there. I asked that myself because it did seem odd, though I did not know about the Blair link.

    I don't think there needs to be an apology. What we need is the truth.