BBUK Lodge Holocaust Programme Featured on Radio 4

BBUK Lodge Holocaust Programme 'A Nazi in the Family' Featured on Radio 4

Report by a Lodge Member

There was an expectant hum amongst the large number of people, who had gathered in the hall to hear a talk entitled “A Nazi in the Family.” This expectancy was heightened by the presence of Andrew Bomford, a BBC Radio 4 journalist and the news that the talk might be aired on Radio 4 on the next Sunday. Andrew was interested in talking to any of the audience, who wanted to comment on the subject.

The talk did not disappoint. The speaker, Derek Niemann, writes for the Guardian and is a Tutor in Creative Writing for Cambridge University. He detailed how, only recently, he learnt about his grandfather’s role as a SS officer for the Nazis. He unfurled the story, commencing with how the family had lived in the town of Hamlin and then disclosed his grandfather’s, Karl Neimann’s role as an inspector of concentration camps. Karl had been a loyal supporter of the Nazi Party, even before it gained power, and he continued with his fervent support throughout the war. After Germany lost the war, Karl was sentenced to internment and survived to work for the British on his release.

Derek’s father and aunt moved to Glasgow, but Derek felt that they had had a pact not to discuss their father’s role in the war, and it was only when his aunt had died and his father was close to death, that the whole story emerged. The emotional impact for Derek and his family was palpable and Derek now visits schools and museums to educate young people in the horrors of the Holocaust.

Also fascinating, was the history of the photographs which illustrated the talk. They had been unearthed in the house in Berlin, where the family had lived for a time. After the current owner had died, her son made them available to the Neimann family. Derek’s wife, Sarah, demonstrated how she had “photoshopped” them to bring them vividly back to life, giving a vital portrayal of the period.

This brought the evening, which had been so engrossing, to an end, leaving the audience to discuss their experiences, and for some, their own family’s involvement in the events of the war years.