Wednesday 23 April 2014

Creeping Fascism

In the coda of That Line of Darkness: The Shadow of Dracula and the Great War (Encompass Editions, 2012) I wrote briefly about the film Children of Men. I expand upon it in the following blog connecting the film to the treatment of prisoners-of-war and suspected spies held in the UK during World War Two. The torture of suspected spies is uncannily similar to that of  alleged terrorists after 9/11 in Chapter 19 of the second volume of That Line of Darkness: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden (Encompass Editions, 2013).

Blind-folded German POWs arrive at prison camp
The panic following the fall of France and the invasion scare in May/June 1940 led to a mass round-up of most Germans in Britain, pro and anti-Nazi alike. Unsubstantiated rumours circulated of a Fifth Column, an alliance between pro-Nazi sympathizers and aliens, that could destabilize the war effort. According to the cabinet minutes record, Churchill issued the order: "Collar the Lot." As a result,  over 27,000 German Nationals in the British Isles were interned with public support. It turned out that there was no Fifth Column.

Among  the German Nationals were Jewish refugees, survivors of the Nazi camps who found that arrival in Britain could replicate their terrible experience. The squalor and the starvation diet in the cramped camps were appalling. But the deportation of thousands, the installation of Jews and overt Nazi sympathizers in the same camps, and the dehumanizing language of the commandants that echoed what they heard in Nazi camps broke the spirit of many Jews; a number of them committed suicide. Gothic tropes can be found in the recollections of survivors. One describes fellow inmates with “yellow faces, more death’s heads than faces; another describes them as moving and talking “in an atmosphere of haunted unreality [in which] vision and sound were distorted.”