Auschwitz image: Did Tom go too far?

150107auschwitz1

It’s a matter of judgement, isn’t it?

The image above is the parody of the Conservative Party’s infamous ‘Road to Recovery’ poster showing the railway line leading to the World War II extermination camp at Auschwitz, as tweeted by fellow blogger Tom Pride with the words, “The new Tory campaign poster featuring a German road’s a bit controversial”.

The tweet worked on several different levels: It referenced the fact that all three claims made on the original poster were inaccurate – in effect, the Conservative Party lied to the public with its very first piece of campaign material; it also acknowledged the fact that the road in the original picture was not British, as had been claimed by George Osborne on Channel 4 News (and this blog has covered reporter Cathy Newman’s surprise on finding out this was not true), but was a road near Weimar in Germany – another Tory lie; and it also made a strong point about the future the UK might face if voters allow themselves to be persuaded into supporting the Tories, based on this lying campaign.

It is also worth drawing attention to Vox Political commenter (and The Critique Archives blogger) Martin Odoni’s reaction to the revelation about the origins of the Tory poster’s image: “I’m no believer in omens or sympathetic magic, but, after all the economic hardship of the last seven years, that is really bad symbolism. I mean, don’t we remember what economic chaos and an evil, fanatical Chancellor did to the Weimar Republic?”

This writer received several versions of the Auschwitz railway image after publishing an article on the Conservative campaign poster.

Tony Dean commented with a simple reference to this one:

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And commenter marcf28 sent the following image, with the words “Interesting choice of image – with a striking similarity to this one”.

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Neither picture has appeared on Vox Political before because this writer considered them a step too far. The comments were published and readers were free to click on the links if they so desired.

I exercised my judgement and that was my decision.

It seems that Nottingham Labour councillor Rosemary Healy has been suspended because she neglected to make a similar judgement call.

As a follower of Tom Pride on Twitter (and there’s nothing wrong with that; Tom’s articles and tweets often provide an oasis of amusement for those of us who are struggling against the harm being caused every day by the Coalition Government) it is entirely possible that she retweeted his picture automatically, in the belief that her own followers would enjoy some sharp humour.

Alas, the humour was too sharp for some, and crossed the line of good taste in their opinion.

Was Cllr Healy wrong to retweet this image? On balance, she probably was. As a councillor representing the Labour Party, it could be argued that she should not be re-transmitting messages that could be interpreted as making light of a very dark period in human history.

Could be argued. Could be interpreted. It’s a matter of judgement.

It could also be argued that the tweet, and the image, make a deadly serious point about the reality of Conservative government. Many parallels have been drawn – accurately (before anyone starts wrongly invoking Godwin’s Law) – between Conservative-led Coalition policy and the actions of the Nazis (who came to power after the failure of the German republic identified with a town called Weimar, let’s not forget).

Remember Vox Political‘s articles about chequebook euthanasia? That information has been sent to the Information Commissioner’s Office in support of the bid to have the Freedom of Information request on ESA claimant fatalities since November 2011 honoured at last; and it has been sent to the Commons Work and Pensions committee, whose investigation into the effects of withdrawing benefit from claimants began in earnest this morning (January 7).

There is a deadly serious (and the word ‘deadly’ is used advisedly) side to Tom Pride’s tweet; there usually is.

However, UKIP supporter ‘Guy Ropes’ sent this blog the following comment today: “Is it correct that a Labour councillor in the Midlands has tweeted an alteration to a Conservative poster that is so insensitive I’d be disappointed if you even tried to talk about it much less defend it. Thankfully his branch have suspended him. I’m not sure – even if they tried really, really hard – that the BNP could conceive of something so tasteless. So how about calling a truce – instead of slagging people and parties off, let’s stick to discussion of policies.”

The problem here is misinformation. The councillor is accused of creating the tweet (and gets a sex change in the process). The tweet is described as tasteless, indicating the commenter has not considered the serious points on which this article has elaborated. And there will be no truce because no hostilities have been declared. It seems Mr ‘Ropes’ has an issue with this blog’s policy of debunking false claims – such as those in his comment.

So, yes – Cllr Healy showed an error of judgement and should not have RT’d the tweet, given her position; and no – the tweet itself is not “insensitive” or “tasteless” in itself – in the judgement of this writer.

We need bloggers like Tom Pride to bring these connections to our attention.

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52 thoughts on “Auschwitz image: Did Tom go too far?

  1. Jim Campbell

    Worth mentioning that Iain Duncan Smith has actually said that people should embrace work because it will “set them free.” Either he’s unaware of the words over the gates to Auschwitz, in which case he’s unfit to be a politician, or he *was* aware of them, and he was happy with the allusion, in which case he deserves everything that comes to him…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Iain Duncan Smith has been to Auschwitz, so there’s no excuse.
      You’re absolutely right that it’s worth mentioning and I should have done so. Thank you for doing it for me.

      1. concernedkev

        Iain Duncan Smith and his Illustrious Leader have both in recent times taken the opportunity to have a photo call under those famous gates. To use a phrase used in courts “they have opened the door on this one” . Tom is right to call attention to what is going on in this country RIGHT NOW . There are hundreds of cases not reported fully of Deaths that have a relationship to the way this government has treated its sick and disabled. This is not a question of invoking Godwins it’s about real people who died as a result of a plan.
        It is all a question of who’s plan and when in history this plan was invoked. It is for the thoughtful to decide whether this tweet was in bad taste or could it be honouring the poor souls who went through those gates to their premature deaths as the result of a demagogic and demonic ideology. Keeping the memory alive of what was done back then in an attempt to stop it happening again.
        I prefer to believe Tom’s photo has done more to honour the victim dead of the past and more recent times than those two excuses for men IDS and Cameron with their hideous photo opportunity.

    2. Tranquil Scotsman-Mallard

      First identify a vulnerable group as a scapegoat and villify them ( poor, unemployed and disabled on benefits). Ghettoise them (Bedroom tax) and then the final solution ( sanctions)…or is it just me?

  2. Barry

    Well the road to Weimar is about right the germans are taking over and there was the weimar republic, but the manner in which the sick disabled and unemployed are being demonised isn’t to far from what the Germans were doing in the late 30’s before they set up this camp to achieve the final soloution.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The Germans are NOT taking over. Don’t believe everything you’re spoonfed by the media and the right-wingers.
      Germans would be appalled if they heard that Nazi-esque policies are being enacted in the UK and that their country is being blamed for it.

  3. david pearce

    Far from insensitive in my viewpoint, as it is how many disabled and poor feel this is where current policies will lead us.It is hard hitting satire that may hit a nerve with many.
    Personally I DO NOT find it funny but rather scary. Let those not threatened by policy condemn Tom. But let the rest of us , who are, express our fear without rebuke.

  4. hstorm

    I wouldn’t say it’s too far, although at the same time, I must admit it’s something I wouldn’t have done myself. Not so much because of bad taste though, as because, being a Jew, it’s an image that is kind of close to the bone for me.

    1. victedy

      As most everyone knows, it wasn’t just Jews in the camps, and were my family living in Nazi Germany (at that time) three of us would be in the camps wearing different badges (1 for their religion, 1 because they are gay & the other because they are disabled).
      Personally, I have mixed feelings about the article:
      In one way I find it distasteful and contrary wise it keeps the terrible atrocities that were committed in those camps alive, because there are Holocaust deniers (I was once viciously trolled by one).
      I think were it not for the fightback by the disabled, the government would have gone a lot further than they have and as one disability activist once said: “If Thatcher had launched the welfare “reforms” (AKA the vicious attack on the sick/disabled/jobless) we’d have been sitting ducks and defenseless without social media.”

  5. wrjones2012

    We are seeing the opening skirmishes in what promises to be a very dirty Election Campaign.Whilst some may well see Tom’s post as bordering on the offensive,I’m afraid that when we look back after the Election it will be viewed upon as being meek and mild,given what is to come.

    Looking further afield to events in Paris today,it could be said in some quarters that Tom’s portrayal was an equivalence of what the Magazine has published in the past.Though I personally think it is not.

    However whatever we may think of the Magazine’s activities,we must send our sincere condolences to all the relatives of those killed or injured.

  6. Niki

    I do not like it, it’s terrifying. And that’s because it’s too nearly true. Tom can cut to the edge sometimes, he has my full support.

    Did IDS really say “work sets you free”? Source? That ones gold if proved.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It’s common knowledge, Niki. He said it back in 2011 or thereabouts and I’m sure the reference should be available for anyone who wants to look it up.

    2. Tony Dean

      IDS stated “work frees you” at least twice on 27th of May 2010, once when being interviewed by John Humphrys on the Radio 4 Today programme, once on “Question Time” that night.
      Some of the speeches IDS has made are direct translations from the original Nazi propaganda speeches during Hitler’s term in office

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        The May 27, 2010 occasion is confirmed by Martin Odoni so there you are, Niki!

      2. hstorm

        And I’m sure the slaves on the plantations in 18th Century North America would have felt a lot better about their lot, if only Inept Drunken Sh*t had been there to tell them that their work was freeing them.

  7. Phil Smart

    Thats what you get for agreeing to abide by standards created by degree welding idiots….who seem to control debate in this country…

    If Councillor Healey had any balls she would resign from the Labour and Party and openly seek to bring down the political establisment that is seeking to enslave us all

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Do you have any reason to think she’s not a believer in Labour ideals? She’s already trying to change politics away from the blind alley down which the Tories are taking us.

  8. Alistair Ralph Lazenby

    SHOW it to family and friends of disabled ill & jobless who have died though this tory government with their policy’s so NO it an’t, it shows them up as NAZI’s. to f*** with the tory killers.

  9. agewait

    Is it to be Judged “too Far” to refer to ‘Road’ that through callous Indifference, and Brutal spitefulness has overseen thousands of Unreported Deaths? The Tory spin for this Elections appears to be “FACTS” – Why have there been NO Investigations into the Thousands of Deaths, and the countless suicides related to a Policy thought-up by Freud and Actioned by Duncan-Spite two of the closest personifications we have to the Banality of Evil today. These two are Evil men – the poster represents a Warning from History! Nothing more, Nothing Less. Let those with ears listen….

  10. hstorm

    As an afterthought, maybe we need to find out what former members of the armed forces think of it. Not just those who fought against the Nazis, but also those whose lives have been made more painful by Government cutbacks.

  11. Kay Dickinson

    Whether he went too far or not is a matter of opinion – but the fact is that the comparison was drawn in the first place, which is a damning indictment on the government that so many of its ‘victims’ do think this is the regime they are existing under.

  12. Tony Dean

    Mike I did not post the link to the picture to be humorous.
    The pre 2010 election pledge of the Tories was to get one million people off of Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance.
    Iain Duncan Smith has spent over 4.5 years trying to achieve that. With the result there are now only 60000 less on IB/ESA than when IDS took over at the DWP.
    There are 700000 people waiting for an ESA decision since “mandatory reassessment” came in many of them for over a year, so it is looking currently that numbers on ESA will go over three million when those are processed.
    The Tories believed their own propaganda about the number of frauds on IB/ESA.
    Dropping the numbers by a million was supposed to fund other aspects of welfare reform.
    If the Tories get in with a working majority there is only one way that the numbers of ESA can be cut that drastically.
    I was not joking about the government owned rail sidings near Bicester either.
    As far as I am aware a “transit camp” for “illegal immigrants has already been built inside the perimeter of those sidings, but is currently not in use.
    Those siding are where they are precisely they can be reached by rail from anywhere on the rail system during the hours of darkness.

    Then there is why are the DWP being so cagey about off flows from benefits due to death statistics.
    If you and I and others are so wrong about those statistics why won’t the DWP prove us wrong which they could do easily IF we are wrong.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      For clarity: I did not claim that you posted the link to be humorous. My point was that commenters to this blog had sent me links to images that were similar to the one at the centre of this controversy, and there are conclusions to be drawn from that.

      1. Tony Dean

        A significant number of disabled people I know are convinced that the Tories are in the process of a latter day T4 programme.
        “Aktion T 4,” the Nazi euthanasia program to eliminate “life unworthy of life”

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Yes, that was one of the conclusions suggested in my chequebook euthanasia articles.

  13. Michael H

    In my opinion Tom Pride didn’t go too far at all, nor did Cllr Healy show an error of judgement. They both showed us all the truth and where we are heading under the Conservative government. I don’t see how displaying an image that actually states truth be considered an error of judgement or controversial. People need to be made aware of the problems and see behind these lies. And if succeeding in shocking people is what is needed then it must be. As far as I am concerned, the Tories are mass murderers that need their crimes exposed. And UKIP would not be any better than the Tories, they will in fact be worse. So Mr Ropes’ views in my opinion is irrelevant seeing as he supports UKIP.

    1. Florence

      If you find it shocking, or not, or true, or close the bone, MOST OF ALL it represents the turf where the current war is being fought over our freedom of speech. Our freedoms have been curtailed under this govt., and they want to repeal human rights legislation. Why should we shy away from images reminding us of what happened when human rights were not recognised?

      I support Tom and Cllr Healy in their right to express their opinion of our political leaders. I hope everyone here actually support that too. Personal sensibilities will be offended sometimes. That’s not a crime. Killing people is; isn’t it?

      1. Michael H

        Indeed I agree. The govt continues to take away our rights piece by piece, to the point where many don’t notice or simply choose not to due to fear. Images such as Tom Pride’s is an extremely effective way to get the message across. Problem is while the image(s) don’t shock me you or others on here, they are offensive and shocking to others.
        The whole point of freedom of speech as you say is to express one’s opinions freely without the govt labelling us as ‘terrorists’. Which I recalled a while ago anyone speaking out against the govt was considered to be one (although I am probably wrong on that). I support the choices of both Tom Pride and Cllr Healy.
        And like you said, killing people is a crime. And the govt took away our right for legal aid, so pressing charges against these ‘politicans’ isn’t an option unless you have money. You’re right, we are at war, just a very one-sided one at present

      2. Florence

        I recall striking miners and their supporters being called “the enemy within”. The present govt. is now a real, dangerous enemy within with their censorship of press and private comment through bullying, and control of the press. .

        I agree that others may be shocked by images we can understand, but that is the nature of democracy and the freedom of speech that being offended is OK, just say you’re offended, but we don’t allow that to become censorship either external or self-censorship. Freedom of speech allows many disparate opinions to thrive. We have laws to show where the boundaries are. A shop-keeper and a French national – also a Muslim – said the same today following the shootings. Violence is another attempt at censorship.

        While of immense importance, during the blanket coverage of the Paris events did anyone notice that ALL OTHER events went unreported essentially? The A&E crisis vanished, and the highly significant evidence at the HoC on sanctions did too. We have to be aware of the many nuances of the attempts to tell us what is important (news censorship).

      3. Michael H

        I did notice that, which don’t get me wrong is horrible news literally happening on our door step but it is flooding all forms of media. Having disconnected the Television I mainly rely on the internet for news. And most mainstream newspapers are flooded with Paris, then with negavitity about muslims and immigrants. Suggesting to readers the war on terrorism is at its worst. While it may or may not be bad, there are very few articles on problems in the country like the A&E Crisis and Sanctions. It has been done to put the fear into us, as I saw on a site (Daily Mail I believe) it suggests with the Paris attacks, Britain coould be next. That only is enough to distract us in keeping updated with Paris, immigrants etc instead of errors/crimes made by the govt. The govt did an excellent job with this distraction.

        Most people will read Tory controlled/oriented newspapers, having their brain wired with censorship. I only drop by once in a while to keep close watch on all these great tabloids. I read the Daily Mail called ‘Keith Ordinary Guy’ Britain’s Worst Whinger, just for writing letters to David Cameron everyday about the problems in his country. Regardless of whether you or I support Keith, it makes a mockery of the man’s commitment to try and help those in need by getting the govt to take notice. Censorship has made him a laughing stock.

        Problem with freedom of speech is it can very quickly be twisted and manipulated to be racist, sexist, offensive, shocking and the best one politically incorrect. Again, opinions/content such as Tom Pride’s image is quickly snatched up by the press and those alike and make it appear shocking. Downsides to democracy is diverse opinions, beliefs, culture etc. It actually makes me wonder whether this is a democracy at all anymore.

  14. concernedkev

    Both Ian Duncan Smith and his Illustrious Leader have both in recent times taken the opportunity to have a photo call under those famous gates. To use a phrase used in courts “they have opened the door on this one” . Tom is right to call attention to what is going on in this country RIGHT NOW . There are hundreds of cases not reported fully of Deaths that have a relationship to the way this government has treated its sick and disabled. This is not a question of invoking Godwins it’s about real people who died as a result of a plan.
    It is all a question of whose plan and when in history this plan was invoked. It is for the thoughtful to decide whether this tweet was in bad taste or could it be honouring the poor souls who went through those gates to their premature deaths as the result of a demagogic and demonic ideology. Keeping the memory alive of what was done back then in an attempt to stop it happening again.
    I prefer to believe Tom’s photo has done more to honour the victim dead of the past and more recent times than those two excuses for men IDS and Cameron with their hideous photo opportunity.

  15. aturtle05

    Tom’s slant on “The Road to Recovery” is only close to the mark in one respect, as far as I am concerned, he nailed it! As a semi-disabled person, suffering from chronic arthritis, I have felt that the next step being workcamps since having to jump through the ESA and PIP hoops where you are considered to be a liar at every step.

    The attacks on the disabled by the Conservative Welfare Reforms are akin to the pre-war attacks by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (the Nazis), where they were saying that if you are too ill to work, you should be removed from society. Although less known, the disabled had to wear a black triangle (pointing down) in the same way that Jews had to wear a yellow star.

    For many disabled, this is where we feel we will be after another five years of Bullingdon Club government. Tom Pride got this one good!

      1. concernedkev

        Hi Mike I was only doing what you always recommend that is to quote the source for the facts. I do not read the Heil out of habit but I do like to keep an eye on what lies they are fomenting. My main point was in relation to Toms tweet that to the thinking person there can be no offence in what he did. I did read your blog which is where I got the idea to reference it. Regards Kevin

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I wasn’t taking issue with you, Kevin – just running down the Daily Flail. I appreciate the fact that you quoted a source.

  16. che

    Sorry Mike but Tom Pride got it spot on, this government is totally representive of the Nazi party. IDS would be running the death camps 70 years ago

  17. Thomas M

    I don’t think the Tories are Nazis-but they have caused the death of many disabled people and the de-facto enslavement of many more.

  18. A-brightfuture

    I feel this foreboding picture hits so many people on an emotional level, the fear of “the end is nigh” really hits home. If like myself and many others who have been clobbered by Atos, bedroom tax, and the sheer anxiety of our basic security being slowly eroded, then this pic says it all.

    This government and system is like a rabid dog, the more you try and reason with it.

    The more it snarls back and attacks you.

  19. jeffrey davies

    to think in this day and age we brought to our knees by government isn’t it strange that we have to put up pics like above to show that this greedie party hasn’t helped the workers but taxes em more whilst they sanction unemployed and real tried to eradicate those who they could drive to suicide isn’t it a fact that those disabled those sick those mentaly ill all feel that we do have a Nazi party alive and kicking in modern Britain mores the pity they made all scapegoats for the real sh***ers the fraudulent banksters who brought this about yet more will die before the 99 percent who aint rich wake up to the fact they culling the stock jeff3

  20. Landless Peasant

    It doesn’t go far enough. Nothing is too far when we’re up against an enemy like the Tory scum. The DWP motto ought really to be; ” Arbeit Macht Frei”. In fact I once printed that out and stuck it on the front door of the New Deal concentration camp I was sent to in Keighley, which was optimistically named Marlborough House, even though there was no house, not even a building, just rows of huts with barbed wire around the roof (I kid you not). Mind you, that was under Labour!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Then the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ label would not have been appropriate. Iain Duncan Smith brought that one back to the DWP in 2010, you see.

      1. Landless Peasant

        Appropriate or not it was what sprang to my mind at the time during my unjust 3 months incarceration in Stalag New Deal.

  21. Maria

    I was shocked to see this, I did think it was a bit too far, but then again they are a bit worse than this, because they have abandoned and neglected so many vulnerable people, Just because they have stopped being or never been able to contribute financially to the country and they forget that people are worth so much more than money.

  22. John

    I dont think so it was too far. The Tories have caused deaths, not on the scale of the Nazi’s but does that make that person’s death any less important. The Nazi’s we’re just quicker at it. A death caused by someone who knows they are causing deaths is still murder!

Comments are closed.