Somewhere in a rat-infested cellar in Hamburg, will gather tonight a little group of Aryan thugs to celebrate the birth of Adolf Hitler. I can’t tell you the address or the names of the participants, but rest assured some will meet – because that menace has never gone away.
Similarly, because we live in a world with little memory and even less perception of evil than might have been the case a hundred years ago, we find ourselves in hock to the very people who created and spread this foul pestilence, we are dying from today.
Her Majesty’s father, HM KIng George VI RI, rather neatly summed up our national position in his Christmas broadcast of 1946, which I share without further comment, below.
“The year that is passing has not been an easy one. Statesmen and politicians have been burdened with the resettlement of a world that has been shattered and ruined by global war. In office, shop, and warehouse, and on the farm, men of all classes have been troubled and harassed by the shortages and economic dislocation that always follows in its wake.
All of us, instead of getting some well-earned relaxation after years of intensive work, have had to put our shoulders to the wheels of industry and agriculture with redoubled vigour. Men and women have returned from war-time service to conditions that are only slowly improving from war-time austerity, while the housewife – perhaps the most gallant figure of all – still bears many of the extra burdens which she bore so bravely throughout the war.
With all these trials to be faced, I am indeed proud that you can maintain that energy and cheerfulness, that courage which this difficult time demands of us all. We cannot expect a world so grievously wounded to recover quickly, but its convalescence can certainly be hastened by our continued endurance and good will. We showed the way when the bombs were falling by our discipline, our endurance, our patience. We can show the way again.
In his own good time, God will lead our feet into the ways of peace. Though the days may be difficult, let us never forget how much we must be thankful for. We have survived the greatest upheaval in human history. Our hard-won liberties and our democratic institutions are unimpaired; our Commonwealth and Empire, though subject to the changes that time must bring, have not been disrupted by the stress and peril of war. We are celebrating Christmas as free men and in peace.
Our task today is to mobilise the Christmas spirit and to apply its power and healing to our daily life. The devastation and suffering everywhere, and especially in stricken Europe, must move the hearts of all of us, but the reconstruction so urgently needed is quite as much spiritual as material – it is necessary not merely to feed hungry people and to rebuild ruined cities, but also to restore the very soul of civilisation.
We cannot all think alike amid the dilemmas of a changing world. Nor is it right that we should. Opinion striking against opinion ignites the spark that can kindle the lamp of truth. But if our feet are on the road of common charity that leads to ultimate truth, our differences will never destroy our underlying unity, and our disputes will not leave us either embittered or unkind.
If the coming year has its uncertainties, it has also its promises. By God’s help and by our own endeavours let us make these brighter promises come true. And now, my dear people, I wish you well. May the new year be full of blessing for each one of you.”
Welcome it when it comes with hope and courage and greet the unseen with a cheer.”
Nick old bean, as I recall you and I were in a rat infested bar in some rat infested town in Guatamala some 45 years ago watching our ship’s officers (German, naturlich) celebrating the very same birthday. As I remember, the second officer was poking you in the chest and saying, “I am my father’s son! I am my father’s son!” The dickheads are still alive.
Not so rat-infested, because the feral dogs ate 90% and the rest went into the Tamales. The Town, which the Magnificent Seven had ignored because it was too poor even for them, was called CHAMPERICO. Bizarrely it has become a holiday destination according to Lonely Planet – and I quote: “Built as a shipping point for coffee and cotton during the boom of the late 19th century, Champerico, 38km southwest of Retalhuleu, is a sweltering sort of spot, and the beach destination of choice for anyone based in Quetzaltenango.” No mention of the black sand, the dead dogs and the Turkish crew – the German officers were busy collecting crabs in the upstairs rooms.