A Lesson from History

HOLOCAUST Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year.

It’s a time to pause and remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Nazi Holocaust, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Today (27 January) marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp of World War 2.

It is a time for us all to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented.

Racial and religious discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion – just look at the Islamophobia of recent years, crystallised by the rhetoric this week of new US President Donald Trump.

So maybe, now is a time to take a sharper look at the evil of Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust – a genocide in which Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews. The victims included 1.5 million children and represented about two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe.

Today, most definitions of the Holocaust include an additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to about 11 million. These included over three million Soviet POWs, two million Poles, 450,000 Serbs, 270,000 disabled people, 170,000 Romani gypsies, 160,000 Freemasons, 15,000 Gay people, 4,000 Jehovah Witnesses, and thousands of women and children who underwent horrific experiments.

Under the coordination of the SS, following directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics and the carrying out of the genocide.

A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories was used to concentrate victims for slave labour, mass murder, and other human rights abuses.

Over 200,000 people are estimated to have been Holocaust perpetrators.

The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages, culminating in what Nazis termed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”, an agenda to exterminate Jews in Europe.

Every arm of the country’s sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders.

The universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag (IBM Germany) company’s punch card machines, producing meticulous records of the killings.

As prisoners entered the death camps, they were made to surrender all personal property, which was catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled.

The killings were systematically conducted in virtually all areas of German-occupied territory, in what are now 35 separate European countries.

It was at its most severe in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Greece.

Hitler’s Wannsee Protocol makes it clear the Nazis intended to carry their “final solution of the Jewish question” to Britain and all neutral states in Europe, such as Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain.

Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated without exception. The Nazis envisioned the extermination of the Jews worldwide, not only in Germany proper, unless their grandparents had converted before 18 January 1871.

The use of extermination camps (also called “death camps”) equipped with gas chambers for the systematic mass extermination of peoples was an unprecedented feature of the Holocaust.

These were established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibór, and Treblinka. They were built for the systematic killing of millions, primarily by gassing, but also by execution and extreme work under starvation conditions.

A distinctive feature of Nazi genocide was also the extensive use of human subjects in “medical” experiments.

The most notorious of the Nazi physicians was Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye colour by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and amputations and other surgeries.

Mengele worked extensively with Romani children. He would bring them sweets and toys and personally take them to the gas chamber. They would call him “Onkel (Uncle) Mengele”.

Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins: “I remember one set of twins in particular: Guido and Ina, aged about four. One day, Mengele took them away. When they returned, they were in a terrible state: they had been sewn together, back to back, like Siamese twins. Their wounds were infected and oozing pus. They screamed day and night. Then their parents—I remember the mother’s name was Stella—managed to get some morphine and they killed the children in order to end their suffering.”

Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 increased the urgency of Hitler’s “Jewish Question”. Poland was home to about three million Jews (nearly nine percent of the Polish population) in centuries-old communities, two-thirds of whom fell under Nazi control with Poland’s capitulation.

The Jews were herded into ghettos, mostly in the General Government area of central Poland, where they were put to work under the Reich Labour Office.

The ghettos were intended to be temporary until the Jews were deported. But deportation never occurred. Instead, the ghettos’ inhabitants were sent to extermination camps.

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest, with 380,000 people, and in effect was an immensely crowded prison serving as an instrument of “slow, passive murder.”

Though the Warsaw Ghetto contained 30% of Warsaw’s population, it occupied only 2.4% of the city’s area, averaging 9.2 people per room.

Between 1940 and 1942, starvation and disease, especially typhoid, killed hundreds of thousands. Over 43,000 Warsaw ghetto residents, or one in ten of the total population, died in 1941; in Theresienstadt, more than half the residents died in 1942.

When Germany occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France in 1940, and Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, antisemitic measures were also introduced into these countries, although the pace and severity varied greatly from country to country according to local political circumstances.

Jews were removed from economic and cultural life and were subject to various restrictive laws, but physical deportation did not occur in most places before 1942.

The Vichy regime in occupied France actively collaborated in persecuting French Jews. Germany’s allies Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland were pressured to introduce antisemitic measures, but for the most part they did not comply until compelled to do so.

During the course of the war some 900 Jews and 300 Roma passed through the Banjica concentration camp in Belgrade, intended primarily for Serbian communists, royalists and others who resisted occupation.

The German puppet regime in Croatia, on the other hand, began actively persecuting Jews on its own initiative, so the Legal Decree on the Nationalization of the Property of Jews and Jewish Companies was declared on 10 October 1941 in the Independent State of Croatia.

During 1940 and 1941, the murder of large numbers of Jews in German-occupied Poland continued. The deportation of Jews from Germany, particularly Berlin, was not officially completed until 1943. By December 1939, 3.5 million Jews were crowded into the General Government area.

The Third Reich first used concentration camps as places of incarceration. And though death rates were high – with a mortality rate of 50% – they were not designed to be killing centres.

Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 opened a new phase in the Holocaust. Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as “Jewish Bolshevik subhumans”, the “Mongol hordes”, the “Asiatic flood” and the “red beast”.

Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans and the Bolsheviks, Jews, Romani and Slavic Untermenschen (“sub-humans”).

Hitler described the war with the Soviet Union as a “war of annihilation”. The pace of extermination intensified after the Nazis occupied Lithuania, where close to 80% of the country’s 220,000 Jews were exterminated before year’s end.

The Soviet territories occupied by early 1942, including all of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Moldova and most Russian territory west of the line Leningrad–Moscow–Rostov, were inhabited at the start of the war by about three million Jews.

The mass killings of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories was assigned to SS formations called Einsatzgruppen (“task groups”).

The most notorious massacre of Jews in the Soviet Union was at a ravine called Babi Yar outside Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on 29–30 September 1941.

The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was made by the military governor Major-General Friedrich Eberhardt, the Police Commander for Army Group South SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch.

A mixture of SS, SD, and Security Police, assisted by Ukrainian police, carried out the killings. Although they did not participate in the killings, men of the 6th Army played a key role in rounding up the Jews of Kiev and transporting them to be shot at Babi Yar.

On 29 September Kiev’s Jews gathered by the cemetery as ordered, expecting to be loaded onto trains. The crowd was large enough that most of the men, women, and children could not have known what was happening until it was too late; by the time they heard the machine gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and shot.

In August 1941 Himmler travelled to Minsk, where he personally witnessed 100 Jews being shot in a ditch outside the town.

Karl Wolff described the event in his diary: “Himmler’s face was green. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his cheek where a piece of brain had squirted up onto it. Then he vomited. After recovering his composure, Himmler lectured the SS men on the need to follow the “highest moral law of the Party” in carrying out their tasks.

Starting in December 1939, the Nazis introduced new methods of mass murder by using gas.

First, experimental gas vans equipped with gas cylinders and a sealed trunk compartment, were used to kill mental-care clients of sanatoria in Pomerania, East Prussia, and occupied Poland, as part of an operation termed Action T4.

In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, larger vans holding up to 100 people were used from November 1941, using the engine’s exhaust rather than a cylinder.

These gas vans were used to kill about 500,000 people, primarily Jews but also Romani and others.

During 1942, in addition to Auschwitz, five other camps were designated as extermination camps for the carrying out of the Reinhard plan.

Two of these were already functioning as, respectively, a labour camp and a POW camp: these now had extermination facilities added to them.

Three new camps were built for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of Jews as quickly as possible, at Belzec, Sobibór and Treblinka, but Auschwitz was the most radically transformed in terms of systematic killing. A seventh camp, at Maly Trostinets in Belarus, was also used for this purpose. Jasenovac was an extermination camp where mostly ethnic Serbs were killed.

Extermination camps are frequently confused with concentration camps such as Dachau and Belsen, which were mostly located in Germany and intended as places of incarceration and forced labour for a variety of enemies of the Nazi regime (such as Communists and homosexuals).

They should also be distinguished from slave labour camps, which were set up in all German-occupied countries to exploit the labour of prisoners of various kinds, including prisoners of war. In all Nazi camps there were very high death rates as a result of starvation, disease and exhaustion, but only the extermination camps were designed specifically for mass killing.

At the extermination camps with gas chambers all the prisoners arrived by train. Sometimes entire trainloads were sent straight to the gas chambers, but usually the camp doctor on duty subjected individuals to selections, where a small percentage were deemed fit to work in the slave labour camps; the majority were taken directly from the platforms to a reception area where all their clothes and other possessions were seized by the Nazis to help fund the war. They were then herded naked into the gas chambers.

Usually they were told these were showers or delousing chambers, and there were signs outside saying “baths” and “sauna.” They were sometimes given a small piece of soap and a towel so as to avoid panic, and were told to remember where they had put their belongings for the same reason. When they asked for water because they were thirsty after the long journey in the cattle trains, they were told to hurry up, because coffee was waiting for them in the camp, and it was getting cold.

Once the chamber was full, the doors were screwed shut and solid pellets of Zyklon-B were dropped into the chambers through vents in the side walls, releasing toxic HCN, or hydrogen cyanide. Those inside died within 20 minutes.

When they were removed, if the chamber had been very congested, as they often were, the victims were found half-squatting, their skin coloured pink with red and green spots, some foaming at the mouth or bleeding from the ears.

The gas was then pumped out, the bodies were removed (which would take up to four hours), gold fillings in their teeth were extracted with pliers by dentist prisoners, and women’s hair was cut.

The floor of the gas chamber was cleaned, and the walls whitewashed.

At first, the bodies were buried in deep pits and covered with lime, but between September and November 1942, on the orders of Himmler, they were dug up and burned. In early 1943, new gas chambers and crematoria were built to accommodate the numbers.

During 1943 and 1944, the extermination camps worked at a furious rate to kill the hundreds of thousands of people shipped to them by rail from almost every country within the German sphere of influence.

By the spring of 1944, up to 6,000 people were being gassed every day at Auschwitz.

The scale of extermination slackened at the beginning of 1944 once the ghettos in occupied Poland were emptied, but on 19 March 1944, Hitler ordered the military occupation of Hungary, and Eichmann was dispatched to Budapest to supervise the deportation of Hungary’s 800,000 Jews.

By mid-1944, the Final Solution had largely run its course as it became clear that Germany was losing the war.

In June, the western Allies landed in France. Allied air attacks and the operations of partisans made rail transport increasingly difficult, and the objections of the military to the diversion of rail transport for carrying Jews to Poland more urgent and harder to ignore.

At this time, as the Soviet armed forces approached, the camps in eastern Poland were closed down, any surviving inmates being shipped west to camps closer to Germany, first to Auschwitz and later to Gross Rosen in Silesia. Auschwitz itself was closed as the Soviets advanced through Poland. The last 13 prisoners, all women, were killed in Auschwitz II on 25 November 1944.

Despite the desperate military situation, great efforts were made to conceal evidence of what had happened in the camps.

The gas chambers were dismantled, the crematoria dynamited, mass graves dug up and the corpses cremated, and Polish farmers were induced to plant crops on the sites to give the impression that they had never existed. Local commanders continued to kill Jews, and to shuttle them from camp to camp by forced “death marches” until the last weeks of the war.

Already sick after months or years of violence and starvation, prisoners were forced to march for tens of miles in the snow to train stations; then transported for days at a time without food or shelter in freight trains with open carriages; and forced to march again at the other end to the new camp. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot. Around 250,000 Jews died during these marches.

The largest and best-known of the death marches took place in January 1945, when the Soviet army advanced on Poland. Nine days before the Soviets arrived at Auschwitz, the SS marched 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Loslau some 35 miles away, where they were put on freight trains to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way

The first major camp to be directly encountered by Allied troops, Majdanek, was discovered by the advancing Soviets on 23 July 1944. Chelmno was liberated by the Soviets on 20 January 1945. Auschwitz was liberated, also by the Soviets, on 27 January 1945; Buchenwald by the Americans on 11 April; Bergen-Belsen by the British on 15 April; Dachau by the Americans on 29 April; Ravensbrück by the Soviets on the same day; Mauthausen by the Americans on 5 May; and Theresienstadt by the Soviets on 8 May. Treblinka and Sobibór were never liberated, but were destroyed by the Nazis in 1943.

Colonel William W. Quinn of the US Seventh Army said of Dachau: “There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind.”

In most of the camps discovered by the Soviets, almost all the prisoners had already been removed, leaving only a few thousand alive — 7,600 inmates were found in Auschwitz, including 180 children who had been experimented on by doctors.

Some 60,000 prisoners were discovered at Bergen-Belsen by the British 11th Armoured Division, 13,000 corpses lay unburied, and another 10,000 died from typhus or malnutrition over the following weeks.

The British forced the remaining SS guards to gather up the corpses and place them in mass graves.

The BBC’s Richard Dimbleby described the scenes that greeted him and the British Army at Belsen: “Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them… Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live… A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms… He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”

Now in 2017, we must never forget this terrible lesson from the past.

 

Advertisements

Who is the Monster?

WHEN I was 19 and my late dad was 45 years old, he had an extra marital affair and left the family home to live with his mistress.

It was a devastating time for all of us, and none more so than my mum, who seemed to spend the next four months crying and starving herself, while somehow parenting my youngest sister, who was then only eight years old.

A week after my father left, my mother told me that this was the third or fourth affair that my dad had “enjoyed”, and she could not forgive him again.

She was hurting badly; and looking back, I am sure that in her pain, she told me this to drive me away from my father and maybe make me hate him.

But it had the reverse effect.

Instead, I saw my dad as a weak human being and I worried for him, and loved him even more – after all he was “my dad”.

As things turned out, six months later my father suffered a nervous breakdown and my mum took him back, nursed him back to health and once again, forgave him.

He never strayed again, and when he died in my mother’s arms in 2008, they loved each other more than ever before.

So why do I tell you this?

Well, fast forward to 2003.

This was the year I was denied all contact with my middle two daughters (Rhia and Shannon). You can read the full account and my battle for access here: Denial

The loss of my daughters was a major contributing factor in my own nervous breakdown in 2013.

This is fully explained here: When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Then some nine months after my breakdown, I discovered that my eldest son, Ben, had married in March 2014, without telling me. To add insult, he had invited my daughters’ stepfather to his wedding rather than me. Perhaps not surprisingly, I suffered another breakdown.

Some 18 months later, when his new wife gave birth to their daughter (my grand-daughter) he instructed members of the family NOT to show me any photographs of her.

Again, I was left reeling – where had all this hatred come from?

It seems that since 2010, he too had been dragged into this denial of access mess.

My last contact with Ben was a text message he sent me in May 2010, in which he said:

“I know your secret”.

When I asked what that “secret” was, he stopped all contact, blocked calls and emails and returned all my letters.

Read this for background about what was going on: The Gaslight Tapes

So I was left with my youngest son Nathan, who I had cared for single-handedly since just after his fourth birthday (he is now 15) and my eldest adult daughter Tan, who had stayed away from all the family problems, and whom I have not seen for a few years.

So time to bring things up to date: at October half-term 2016, Nathan asked if he could pop and see Tan at her office in Telford. I agreed and went with him.

We telephoned the office to find out if she was at work. She was, and she spoke briefly with Nathan, but made excuses why she could not see him personally.

Three days later, she emailed my ex-wife (Nathan’s mother and someone she had not seen in more than 10 years) to claim she was scared by the phone call. But the two page email was full of vitriol about me and how she did not want to see me again and had “nothing positive to say” about me.

Clearly upset, Nathan showed me this email last week.

I was choked by it… I have NEVER fallen out with Tan, never harmed her in any way and had no idea that she didn’t want contact with me.

I had given her space, believing she was being aloof, due to family problems with her uncle and the recent death of her grandfather.

So this email was completely out-of-the-blue and hit me very hard.

But, what became immediately clear was that a 14 year campaign of lies, innuendo, gaslighting and character assassination against me, was continuing.

This campaign was being driven by Alvilde, the mother of my middle daughters, and her wealthy husband John.

As explained in The Gaslight Tapes: “A common element among all the tactics manipulators use is that they cause the person being targeted to doubt their gut instincts about what’s going on.

“Their gut tells them they’re under attack or that someone is trying to get the better of them, and they intuitively go on the defensive. But because they often can’t find any clear, direct, objective evidence that the other person is merely trying to disadvantage them, they start doubting and questioning themselves.

“This is the real secret of effective manipulation. If the “target” were solidly convinced they were in the process of being done in, they’d more likely put up more resistance instead of capitulating.

“Manipulators know this. They win by getting the other person to back down or give in.”

So what is my “secret”?

And what have I done to make me such a heinous father or such a monster, that my children hate me?

  • Am I a murderer?
  • Am I a rapist?
  • Am I a wife beater?
  • Am I a child abuser?
  • Am I a paedophile?

I am NONE of these things…. I have NEVER physically abused, sexually abused, mentally abused or harmed any of my children or past partners. I have rarely even raised my voice to my kids.

Plus, I am a pacifist.

The ONLY time I have ever hit anyone, is a drunken fight I had at a ceilidh in Scotland in 1992, when Alvilde and I drunkenly and publicly punched each other over my refusal to take part in a country dance. It was something we both regretted the next day and something I openly apologised for – this was long before our daughters were even born.

So has this one incident become the bedrock of the gaslighting?

I genuinely don’t know.

But, as my good friend Sara Salyers observes:

“From bitter personal experience I can attest to the fact that whispered accusations behind the back of the accused, rather than a clear and evidenced case are a sure sign that a speculative and inauthentic profile is being constructed in the shadows from which it cannot be challenged because it is protected from the light of day.

“Anyone accused of crimes serious enough to cost him the right to a relationship with his children has the right to hear the case against him. And his children have both the right and the duty to pull the whispers out of the shadows and subject them to the light of test and evidence.”

So I ask again, what have I done, to warrant such ongoing poison?

Now, after reading Tan’s email, I am not going to back down again and submit to life-ruining lies and innuendoes.

I believe I am a caring and gentle man, who loves his children deeply and should not be forced through this hell any longer.

If the perpetrators intended to break me, they did that a long time ago. The child sexual abuse, cancer, bankruptcy and bereavements ground me down over many years, but the cruel assassination of my character to my children finished me off.

In June 2015, I tried to take my own life, but was rescued by two passing strangers. The road to emotional and psychological recovery since that day has been strong, but draining.

I am now too tired and too old to fight any longer.

So this is my final battle, my final attempt to break this campaign of vilification, and beg that my older children (who are now all adults) see me as I really am.

Whatever the outcome, I will always love all of them.

My youngest son Nathan knows and loves me as a caring and loving dad, who would do anything for his children.

And my many friends know me too.

This is what a few of them so kindly volunteered to write.

I leave you, the reader, to judge, but this is the REAL ME:

I first met Nic when we worked together for the YTS scheme in the mid-1980s; training teenagers to get employment. Nic had a teaching role. He was married and the loving father of a young family.

Over the years some may have assumed that Nic’s easy-going personality was a weakness, but this was not the case. Perhaps some were jealous of Nic’s character and may have felt inadequate. Perhaps because of this, they tried to make Nic look bad to make themselves look better.

Nic has admitted to faults but has always been a family man and wanted to be there as a father for his children. Everyone makes mistakes but many do not admit to them publicly in social media. Nic is a good, kind man and father to his children. He loves them all very much even the ones he is not able to communicate with which I know rips him apart.

JA (known Nic for 30 years)

 

I met Nic last summer through Momentum and his blogs. We went on to meet and become friends. Nic is a very decent, honest and genuine human being, which is very rare nowadays.

AA (known Nic for 7 months)

 

Nic and I worked together for three years and he became a great pal and was always passionate about what he did.

The love of his family is obvious and I truly hope that his dream of having a relationship with his other children comes true.

SB (known Nic for 6 years)

 

Nic is a great editor and it was one of my life pleasures to work with him. When I was having deep work-related problems, he was the first person I turned to. At work he was inspirational, and out-of-work he is a great family man who adores his children.

Nic and his wife Gill became close personal friends of my husband Alex and me and we have stayed at each other’s houses many times.

AB (known Nic for 6 years)

 

I’ve known Nic for four years, meeting him as the father of one of my son’s best friends, and now we are friends in our own right. Nic has many qualities that I admire, which include being thoughtful, caring, loving, and a very talented writer. Nic is a kind and loving father to Nathan, who in return is growing into a very polite and thoughtful young man.  I’d like to say not a day goes by without him thinking of all of his kids, but it’s probably more likely to be not an hour. Nic deserves as much as any of us to see his family.

CB (known Nic for 4 years)

 

I have known Nic first as a work colleague and then as a friend.

Nic is a compassionate and very fair man who has endured much in his life. What Nic has come through would have crippled most other people. The fact that he has come through it with such little resentment and such a sunny disposition says it all.

I am so proud that I am a friend of his and in my eyes he is a hero.

KB (known Nic for 8 years)

 

I have known Nic personally for many years through our common love of Brighton and Hove Albion FC. In short Nic is a fantastic guy, gentle and compassionate and extremely funny. I hope it all works out for him.

AB (known Nic for 13 years)

 

Nic and I met at college when we were both still teenagers and have kept in touch ever since. We both have great pride in swapping news about how our respective children have grown and developed.

Nic has always had a funny and quirky personality. I can still remember him reading his election speech at Poly with his pants on the outside of his trousers and a knotted hanky on his head. The memory of it still makes me laugh.

Nic does not suffer fools but neither does he exhibit any rash or violent temper.

Nic is now, as he was at 19, a caring, honest, considerate and sensitive man, passionately opposed to social injustice and whose deep and abiding love for his children is absolutely apparent.

I am proud to be his friend.

JB (known Nic for 41 years)

 

Nic gave me my first job in journalism in 2007. I can without hesitation say he is the best editor I could have wished for.

Over the years Nic and I became friends and I have found him to be someone I could rely on if I had a problem as he always made time for his friends and staff even when he was busy or in difficulty himself. 

I was humbled when he and Gill asked me to be their wedding photographer. As for Nathan, I just don’t know how Nic has managed to bring up a child on his own while working full-time as a newspaper editor.

CB (known Nic for 9 years)

 

I worked alongside Nic for six months and he is one of the most earnest, helpful and trustworthy colleagues I have ever known. Gregarious, kind and immensely talented, he commands results using a fair and approachable management style. His sunny nature and sharp wit lit up the newsroom and it was both a pleasure and delight to work alongside him.

SC (known Nic for 5 years)

 

I have known Nic since 1999 and visited him and Ruth often at their home in Oldmeldrum. I met Rhia and Shannon on a number of occasions. I was also present at Nic and Ruth’s wedding in 2003. It was so lovely to see how beautiful Rhia and Shannon looked at the wedding, and how excited they were. It was obvious how much they loved their little brother, Nathan, constantly fussing over him, and how much they loved their dad.

Nic is, and always has been, loving and caring towards all of his children and a thoroughly decent man. It is time he had an even break.

LD (known Nic for 18 years)

 

Nic and I enjoyed a loving relationship for little over a year. We would spend alternate weekends at each other’s homes and spent Christmas and Easter together too. His son, Nathan became good friends with my teenage children. I also met and spent time with Nic’s lovely mum, Jackie.

Nic is a loving person and a wonderful father. He also put himself out of limb to get to know and befriend my children. I never saw Nic lose his temper or harm anyone. It is now sadly ironic that the reason we split up was due to his high personal morality and honesty – something to which I still aspire. He was a lovely part of my life.

NG (known Nic for 7 years)

 

Nic is an outstanding editor, teacher and friend. I worked for him for two years between 2008 and 2010. I feel very privileged to have been part of his editorial team. His enthusiasm is infectious and it encouraged me to unearth some great stories and push myself to new limits. Nic will always be someone I continue to turn to for help and advice.

AF (known Nic for 9 years)

 

I met and worked for Nic between 1998 and 1999. I got to know him and his then partner Alvilde on a personal and friendly basis. I never witnessed Nic lose his temper once and he always adored his two little daughters.

Nic is a unique editor who gave confidence and inspiration to many aspiring journalists. More than that, he is a lovely guy.

PF (known Nic for 19 years)

 

I have known Nic for around 13 years, via our mutual love of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. In all this time, I have seen his devotion to Nathan, often in the face of great difficulty, to be unswerving, with the soul of a man who loves his son dearly. I know Nic would welcome the chance to (re)build relationships with his other children. He is a genuinely lovely man, full of wit, passion and care.

IH (known Nic for 13 years)

 

Nic is a wonderful mentor and teacher and an editor I would willingly move hundreds of miles to work for him again. He is also a warm and compassionate human being and an amazing father to his lovely son Nathan. In a nutshell: he is just amazing.

LH (known Nic for 6 years)

 

I have known Nic for 10 years. We met when he did pro bono PR work for my former band Tiny Tin Lady. I have stayed at Nic’s house many times over the ensuing years and he has become my soul-mate.

Nic is an awesome father to Nathan and a lovely human being. He is one of my best friends in the world and I was honoured to be his witness at his marriage to Gill.

I would love to meet his estranged daughters and tell them to their faces what a beautiful man their father is.

HH (known Nic for 10 years)

 

I consider myself to be a very good judge of character. This opinion of myself has come about through many years of observing the consequences of my decisions based on the judgements I make. Mostly I have been right, and my awareness of other people has enabled me to almost instantly know if someone is going to be trouble, or enjoys harming other people, or is lying to me or trying to manipulate me in any way.

Nic is a sensitive, kind and intelligent man, who wants to live in a world that values peacefulness, equality and compassion.

AI (known Nic for 6 months)

 

I first met Nic while working for NWN Media. I think it was probably our passion for football that got us talking (he is B&HAFC and me it’s Chester).

It was always a pleasure to chat with him as a happy bloke who never seemed to have a problem with anyone or anything. He hid the agony of his family problems well.

Subsequently we have become good friends with a shared love of music and footy. He has always been kind even in his darkest hours and even appreciated my bad jokes.

Even though Nic lives some miles away I consider him a close friend and would happily welcome him to my home or holiday home in mid Wales, where I spend a lot of time with my wife and extended family of foster children and pets. I hope he finds the inner strength and peace that he deserves.

JL (known Nic for 11 years)

 

Nic and I met after our sons became close friends at school, when they were still just Infants.

Over the years our sons have played together, had many sleepovers and grown to be best buddy teenagers.

Nathan has excelled at school and is one of the brightest boys I have ever known. This is in no small measure due to Nic’s parenting of Nathan.

I make these observations as a fellow parent, a good friend and as a school teacher.

CL (known Nic for 11 years)

 

I first worked with Nic in 1993. I also met Dilla – this was before they had their two daughters. Our paths crossed again at The Scotsman in 1996. We became good friends and I socialised with both Nic and Dilla over the following year. I visited their home in Haddington and saw at first hand his wonderful parenting of Rhia and Shannon.

I can say in all honesty that Nic is a kind, funny and a very gentle man. It is a horrendous travesty that he has been denied the rights of any father to be a parent to his daughters.

VM (known Nic for 24 years)

 

I need to thank Nic for his support over the last three years – he is a star! I’ve come to value his kindness, honesty, and integrity greatly.

SM (known Nic for 7 years)

 

Nic and I met through our sons, who went to the same primary school.

Nic is friendly and approachable and very easy to talk to. I have never witnessed him being angry and always thought of him as very laid back and relaxed.

Nic is a loving parent who always wants the best for his son. Nathan is a lovely boy and that is credit to the upbringing that Nic has given him. Both my children have spent lots of time at Nic’s house and I have never had any reason to be concerned. Even with a house full of noisy children I have never seen or heard Nic raise his voice in anger. He genuinely enjoys seeing the children happy and having fun.

KM (known Nic for 8 years)

 

Dad is loving and caring, he spoils me rotten. He is kind and generous. He can be firm and sometimes raise his voice, but he never loses his temper with me. He is the best dad in the world ever!

NO (known Nic all my life)

 

I have only known Nic a short time through our mutual socialist beliefs and membership of the local Momentum branch.

I have to say, I believe Nic to be a thoughtful, caring and gentle soul who wants a just, equal, and caring society. I truly hope his fight to put the record straight is successful.

ER (known Nic for 6 months)

 

Nic is insightful and generous. His passion for social issues and concern for his fellow man permeates every aspect of his work and personality. Nic is a breath of fresh air.

It is for these reasons that I consider him to be one of the best bosses I have ever had and also a very dear friend.

RR (known Nic for 5 years)

 

I first met Nic in 1996 when he was working for The Scotsman. We had a lot in common and quickly became friends.

I got to know him, Dilla and the girls, visiting them in Haddington and going to stay with them in Galloway a couple of times in 1999.

Nic was a proud and loving father and his girls obviously adored him. Everything about his politics and his core values and his behaviour as a dad was of a peace, committed, brave and loving.

No one is without faults and all of us hurt those we love as a result – all of us without exception. But the kinds of fault that would justify alienating and excluding a father, the kinds of faults that would make the violent emotional damage inflicted by parental alienation preferable to maintaining a working relationship with a parent, are not part of his profile. I can state that with 100% certainty.

And from bitter personal experience I can attest to the fact that whispered accusations behind the back of the accused, rather than a clear and evidenced case are a sure sign that a speculative and inauthentic profile is being constructed in the shadows from which it cannot be challenged because it is protected from the light of day.

Anyone accused of crimes serious enough to cost him the right to a relationship with his children has the right to hear the case against him.

And his children have both the right and the duty to pull the whispers out of the shadows and subject them to the light of test and evidence.

Even if that means acknowledging the vengeful or venal or deceitful character of the other parent.

Much love to a brave, brilliant and loving friend.

SS (known Nic for 21 years)

 

Meeting and working for Nic between 2008 and 2010 gave me a strength and inner-belief that few could ever manage. I will never forget his presence in the newsroom, his advice or guidance, all of which are worth more than gold.

He is a lovely man and I am a better person for having known him.

MT (known Nic for 9 years)

 

I worked for Nic for over five years, first as a trainee and then on to chief reporter. He taught me everything I know.

Not only a great journalist and editor Nic is the most compassionate manager I have ever worked for. After being diagnosed with cancer he was a massive support to me, treating me like a friend rather than an employee or a ‘number’.

I am very proud and grateful to have been a member of his team and to class him as a true friend.

And to watch Nathan grow under his parenting has been amazing.

NT (known Nic for 9 years)

 

I have known Nic for a little over five years.

I think he, Gill and Nathan are fantastic loving people, educated and incredibly funny.

VT (known Nic for 7 years)

 

I have come to know Nic through his writings and ultimately as a valued friend.    

It is impossible to read Nic’s accounts of his life and of his struggles to gain access to his children, without being deeply moved.   

Nic has a tremendous insight into self, probably more than anyone I know.  Unlike so many of us humans, he can reflect and admit to his weaknesses and imperfections.  

Nic is a valued friend and is a kind, caring and above all honest man. 

SW (known Nic for 2 years)

 

I have known Nic for over 30 years and met him at a particular difficult time for him, health wise. I was a nurse, working at an oncology hospital in Cardiff, and Nic was a patient receiving radiotherapy due to him having a malignant tumour removed from his shoulder area. I would redress his wound each day, and spend a long time talking and listening to a brave, intelligent man.

I gained great insight into a man who was determined to get well and restart his life and career. I saw how he worried about other patients and how one young girl became a great friend to him and he looked out for her throughout his time at the hospital. They remained friends up until her untimely death through cancer. Again this hit Nic hard as he loved her like a younger sister he has never forgotten her and has even made time to meet her family many years later.

I for one class Nic as a caring passionate friend and know our friendship will never be lost. When you meet Nic and talk to him you know him only as a gentleman who wants the best for other people before himself. A selfless man who deserves better than what has happened to him these past years.

AY (known Nic for 30 years)

 

December: Winter Darkness

You said the darkened winter

Might bring you down forever

Left gagging for the summer

Where pure air lets you breathe

Sea breeze cascades

The salt wash

Of brave Louise

The battlefield of conquest

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched

 

You fight against injustice

And the violence of your kin

Carving deep blue ripples

In the tissues of your mind

Now within your coral sea

You swim so very deeply

And Sirens laugh

Through vague fingertips

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched

 

You cannot yet surrender

For you touched the distant sands

And treasured friends are calling you

To leave the pain behind

Among the shingle

And the mock weed

Beyond the next beach barrier

You dance upon white horses

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched

November: Return to Desolation Row

They’re telling tall tales of my lifetime

They’re obscuring the truth with lies

The carpet-bagging whisperer

Has sent out all his spies

Here comes the blind note-taker

He’s writing in a trance

One hand is tied to the Imperial typewriter

The other is in his pants

And me, I’m getting restless

As the heat pipes they just cough

The bank account it empties

And I think I’ve had enough

 

The long dead scout master

Walks the dark sunrise

Still poisoning lost children

While doing up his flies

 

Outside the sky is grey and laden

The trees are turning brown

Hilary, the old bag lady

Is wearing her winter frown

All except for Jo and Lizbeth

And the neighbour without a name

Everybody is making love

Or else expecting rain

And my dreams they are undressing

As the heat pipes they just cough

The bank account it empties

And I think I’ve had enough

 

The long dead scout master

Walks the dark sunrise

Still poisoning lost children

While doing up his flies

 

Across the street they’ve nailed the shutters

You can hear the women scream

Diwali is now over

And the bright lights are all a dream

The Muslim taxi driver

Has booked his last fare home

He’s riding with false confidence

Since the hoodies stole his phone

And I’m left peeking from my window

As the heat pipes they just cough

The bank account it empties

And I think I’ve had enough

 

The long dead scout master

Walks the dark sunrise

Still poisoning lost children

While doing up his flies

 

 

October: Autumn Memories

It’s funny you know when I sit down

And think about what we once had

About the friends I used to know

What happened, where did they all go?

I can still remember those happy hours

Drinking and talking onto your shoulder

We thought we could change the world

And never thought we would get any older

 

Now the autumn rust

And orange dust

Sweeps away the memories

Of teenage dreams

Beyond life’s seams

And October rain

Drowns all of the treacheries

 

There were the evenings when we would kiss

We’d bring it on home with an old LP

Played low in moments of bliss

What happened to the girl that I loved?

Tell me, did I break her heart in the rain

Did she live, and did her love grow colder

Did she ever think of my face again

And I never thought we would get any older

 

The autumn rust

And orange dust

Sweeps away the memories

Of teenage dreams

Beyond life’s seams

And October rain

Drowns all of the treacheries

 

You know my mind gets tired

When I think back on all of the things we did

I wonder if I’ll remember these precious things

As more years pass me by?

These memories will become dimmer

And old photos are stuffed in a dusty folder

I’ll point the finger back in time

And I never thought we would get any older

 

The autumn rust

And orange dust

Sweeps away the memories

Of teenage dreams

Beyond life’s seams

And October rain

Drowns all of the treacheries

 

September: September Song

Boots and bottles and a telescope reel

No-one knows just how I feel

Sitting blindly by a Catherine Wheel

I open my arms to you

 

Write me a song to sing all day long

Catch me a tune to howl at the moon

Watch me waltz on a silver spoon

I open my arms to you

 

My golden daughter does what she oughta

Reading medical books with whisky and water

The words get longer but never shorter

I open my arms to you

 

The breakdown came the breakdown went

Forty-four years they were paid and spent

I’ll pack up my shoes and buy a new tent

I open my arms to you

 

The sun still warms the September air

The grass is green and the day is fair

I look at my life with barely a care

I open my arms to you

 

The fox it will run and the bat does fly

The poacher stares at the empty sky

Time it passes with no reason to cry

I open my arms to you

 

May: Colours of life

By these sandstone walls

My life unfolds

In three colours of love

The white May blossom

The lilac hops

The pink cherry flowers

Under a blue sky above

 

By the fields of rape

My life unfolds

In three colours of pain

The black crow flies

The grey clouds

The poppies red

Upon opened sacks of grain

 

By the wind whispered Wold

My life unfolds

In three colours of life

The azure horizon

The creamy cotton

The emerald field

Its beauty cuts like a knife