Harold was born in Germany to a Jewish father and Christian mother. He arrived in England in 1939, just weeks before the outbreak of war made escape impossible. After escaping the call up to the German army by just two weeks, he joined the British Army and served in the Pioneer Corps, one of 10,000 refugees to serve. Whilst Harold was completely committed to the allied forces, he was aware that his cousins were reluctantly fighting on the other side.
This poem highlights the power of antisemitic propaganda.
Our eyes met simultaneously across a Berlin street.
Grey as stony tenements, pale workers facing day.
Not long ago we’d shared a classroom, equals, green;
left the college eager, keen. Finding work meant busy feet.
Already war-clouds could be seen;
The army in traditional grey.
For others, unemployment showed the way to ready pay;
Bread and butter on the table plus the ever-open door
to careers not known before.
Regrettably, with every bite, a chunk
of man’s own conscience died.
…Our eyes locked for brief seconds dead.
His matched the brown of the SA,
favourite colour of the day. He'd made his choice;
Fallen for the siren-voice of propaganda in full flight.
Arrogance and stiff-necked pride poisoned air we did once share.
He knew exactly what to do…deliberately
he crossed the street…not a blink nor friendly wink.
For him the Jew was not there.
This vacant stare made me aware how wide our world had moved apart.
Looking back, do I still care? Yes I do, yet I must say
that I feel sorry in a way. So many of his type and age…
Deceived…mislead…did not survive.
Acquiescence was the price which probably cost him his life.
Was it fate or purely luck which moves this pen,
in my own peculiar way, across a patient, silent page…
Somewhat late in the day?