A Cautionary Tale

In which The Author recommends a radio play

A very good but extremely disturbing play called The Gestapo Minutes, based on a true story, has just finished on BBC Radio 4. I don’t know whether it’ll be on the iPlayer (it depends on repeat rights), but it gave a terrifying insight into the plight of ordinary Jewish families during the Second World War.
The particular family around whom the play revolved weren’t deported to the death camps. As a retired lawyer and a respected individual, the man was ‘asked’ to ask as a liaison between the Nazis and the Jewish community in Mainz. In between a dramatic scenario played out between the lawyer and his ‘handler’ (so to speak), the BBC newsreader Robin Lustig read extracts from the rules which governed the lives of Jews in the Third Reich.
What really made my blood run cold was the extent of the forensic detail to which these petty bureaucrats were expected to carry out their duties. Throughout the play, I kept having visions of the main office of the Department of Work and Pensions, with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ emblazoned above the doors.
If it’s available on the iPlayer, please take 45 minutes to listen to it – and reflect on the fact that the Third Reich only lasted as long as it did because ordinary working people just did what they were told.

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