Back in June a man called Thomas Mair shot MP Jo Cox. He denies murder and everything else he’s been charged with, despite there being a dead woman, lots of witnesses and his words to the effect that ‘it’s me you’re looking for’ when he was arrested.
Witnesses say he was screaming ‘Britain First,’ a fact that not one single MP has felt it necessary to mention let alone condemn. Just in case anyone was in any doubt that the attack was politically motived, in court Mr Mair announced that he was ‘a political activist.’
Today’s revelation in court was that Thomas Mair had quite a collection of books about Nazism. Which gave me pause for thought, because between you, me and the internet, so do I.
Last year I finally wrote a screenplay called Janni Schenk, a story about a very normal boy who had the misfortune to be born in Germany in 1930. I’d heard the story at first hand from the old man I always thought of as Janni, although that wasn’t his real name; now I very much doubt I’ll ever know what his real name was.
I heard the story about 20 years ago. He was old then. I didn’t know how to write it. I’m not sure I do now, but I gave it a go after 17 years of thinking I couldn’t do it. For two years I read everything I could find about then and there. I knew a German girl but despite her describing herself as ‘the third generation of the war’ naturally she didn’t have any first-hand knowledge; neither did her parents.
I read about what people ate, the clubs they joined, the clothes they wore, all of which I thought was probably more important than what battles were fought. Each week the shelf grew. Another week, another book with a hakencruz on the spine on the bookshelf.
It wasn’t something I was very happy about but I couldn’t see any other way to find out the things I needed to know. I don’t have any other Nazi stuff, apart from a cap I found for pennies that I needed for a photo-shoot.
Admittedly, I do have a stabby German knife my uncle gave me when I was fourteen. He thought it was a “Commando” dagger but it was far more interesting as well as older. Rather than being the Birmingham-made stilletto my uncle presumed, it turned out to be a recognised model of First War German trench knife instead. Nothing whatsoever to do with Nazism.