Thursday, January 15, 2009

Friday 15th October 1943

Paced 24 furlongs.

A horrible Englishman (imitator of the Western Brothers who soon cease to amuse), was ranting against the Jews in the mess hall this afternoon. I read a book and became unconscious of his voice. Some time passed and suddenly Norbert Gutwillig could stand it no longer. He had been trying to write a letter to his Tel-Aviv fiancee Leah, who had just dramatically written him, “Unless you come home now, I end my life... I am terribly unhappy and can endure it no longer...”

So, I stopped reading abruptly when Norbert threw his pen down and hurried nervously up to the horrible Englishman (whom we call the Stinker) crying, “For two hours you talk about the Jews, the Jews! Now I can stand no more. Get out, you – you!” “Take it easy old chap,” said Stinker patronisingly, I'm an Englishman you know. You mustn't talk to an Englishman like that!” “Bugger!” hissed Gutwillig. “Now then,” said stinker, somewhat startled. “Don't try any of your Nazi tricks on me. I'm an Englishman, I say.” (Oh! To take the name of your country in vain!)

Poor Gutwillig was speechless. Stinker unwisely wound up by saying scornfully, “You get back to Germany, where you belong!” “You say this to me!” cried Norbert, nearly frantic, “And both my parents dead by the Germans? Get up on your feet! You Bastard! Get up!”

The Stinker did not get up. He clutched his seat and went deadly white. Poor Gutwillig's eager hands were trembling two inches from his face. The English usually keep together and I thought they might make common cause against Norbert; they were then gathering, so I hastily swayed the balance of power by giving the Stinker a gloomy look and saying, “I think you'd better go, don't you?” For once the Stinker didn't argue, so Norbert must have frightened him plenty. “Yes, I think so!” he said. “And apologise, too” I went on. “Y-Yes. I certainly will. After he's all-alright.”

With these words the Stinker – carefully keeping me between himself and the furious Gutwillig – got up from his seat and fairly slunk away. For a few minutes, Gutwillig was lurching about, almost demented. But he recovered very quickly when he had been brought back to the ward. I think the letting off of suppressed angers had done him good.

I must admit that Norbert Gutwillig has - quite unknowingly – done a good deal towards modifying my anti-Jewish opinions as regards the Palestine question.


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