A member of the Scottish Parliament has related how quickly conversation with his ward mates in hospital turned to the Holocaust – and Holocaust denial.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the MSP for Edinburgh Western, has written about his stay in a hospital in West Lothian for hand surgery over the summer, recounting that the man next to him in the ward “muttered something about Germany and gas chambers”.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said that he did not hear the man properly and was about to take issue with the comment when the patient in the bed opposite chimed in: “No mate, there never were any gas ovens, it was all a hoax, I can give you a link to a YouTube video which explains it all.”
“Despite being pretty high on painkillers,” Mr Cole-Hamilton writes, “I challenged him, explaining his statement wasn’t just wrong but it was offensive. He responded by saying that he was as much entitled to his opinion as I was, to which I replied that my ‘opinion’ was empirically verifiable as historical fact.
“The whole exchange left me pretty shaken and the atmosphere on the ward was strained for the duration of my stay.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton writes that he had of course heard of Holocaust denial, “but I have never encountered it in the dismal flesh before. It prompted me to think more about it and last week’s horrific Yom Kippur shootings in a synagogue in Halle, Germany hammered home to me the brutal and murderous end that unchecked antisemitism can lead to.”