Tag Archives: Paddy Ashdown

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Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”. 

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral

Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

 

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral

September 12 2019 – Times Letter Submission – Coburg, Bonhoeffer, Bell and Ashdown – Unpublished [Amended and re-submitted elsewhere]

 

 

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Dear Editor

There is much for which we can be thankful in the life and work of Paddy Ashdown (“Service of thanksgiving for Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon”, Times, Sept 11) – not least his well-researched last book “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944”.

Lord Ashdown concludes in his Epilogue:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Some of those “questions” will be addressed next month at the Coburg Conference in Chichester*, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us, in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

 

UNPUBLISHED LETTER AMENDED AND RE-SUBMITTED ELSEWHERE – SEPT 13 2019 (Morning)

 

Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the ecumenical Coburg Conference, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

SEPT 13 2019 UPDATE (Evening)

The Coburg Conference (10-14 October) will take place in Chichester Cathedral and  ‘other venues’, such as Vicars’ Hall, but NOT including 4 Canon Lane (George Bell House before 2015 name-change – Ed) ~ Secretary of Chichester Cathedral Precentor

 

May 27 2019 – The Brexit Party: “There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here” – Paddy Ashdown [1941-2018]

May 27 2019 – “There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here” – Paddy Ashdown [1941-2018]

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“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here…Dietrich Bonhoeffer…said…’Responsible action must decide not just between right and wrong, but between right and right and wrong and wrong’.

“So it is, exactly, here. There are no blacks and whites, just choices between blacker blacks and whiter whites. There are no triumphal personal qualities, and no triumphant outcomes. Just flawed individuals, who, at a time of what Bonhoeffer referred to as ‘moral twilight’, felt compelled to do the right thing as they saw it…

“In reading this book you may be struck, as I was in writing it, by the similarities between what happened in the build-up to World War II and the age in which we now live. Then as now, nationalism and protectionism were on the rise, and democracies were seen to have failed; people hungered for the government of strong men; those who suffered most from the pain of economic collapse felt alienated and turned towards simplistic solutions and strident voices; public institutions, conventional politics and the old establishments were everywhere mistrusted and disbelieved; compromise was out of fashion; the centre collapsed in favour of the extremes; the normal order of things didn’t function; change – even revolution – was more appealing than the status quo; and ‘fake news’ built around the convincing untruth carried more weight in the public discourse than rational arguments and provable facts.

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Painting a lie on the side of a bus and driving it around the country would have seemed perfectly normal in those days”.

~ Paddy Ashdown [“Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1939-1944” – Collins 2018 – Introduction and Page 301]

 

LAST TWITTER ENTRIES – 2018

This Brexit shambles exposes how far the Conservatives Party has degenerated. For all her faults, Mrs May remains the only adult in the room. At the top, the rest are just a bunch of self obsessed pygmies, charlatans and incompetents who should not be allowed to run a whelk stall
A good PM she is most emphatically not. But listening – and more specifically – watching Theresa May’s speech today, there are three qualities not even her worst enemies would deny her. Duty, Determination and Desperation.

May statement at 2.30. Undermined by her Party at home, humiliated by her friends in Europe, the PM has no credibility left. She should resign. And as a woman of duty, I think she will.

 9 Jul 2018 

More
And so our beloved country is once again held to ransom by squabbles in a Tory Party who give rats in a sack a bad name

May 25 2019 – “Today’s disturbing echoes of the build up to the second world war” – Guardian – Letters 

Bernie Evans and Michael Meadowcroft respond to Martin Kettle’s article on the alarming similarities of Weimar Germany and Brexit Britain
Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Berlin on 24 March 1933

Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Berlin on 24 March 1933. ‘Hitler’s rise initially was through democratic votes in general elections, with the Nazis becoming the biggest party in the Reichstag after the July 1932 election,’ writes Bernie Evans. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Letters

As Martin Kettle says (Brexit Britain and Weimar Germany are perilously alike, 16 May), there exist in the UK at the moment far too many similarities with Weimar Germany for comfort. It is easy to see parallels in the falling out of love with parliament, the lack of cooperation between parties and the far right’s repeated message of national betrayal, and to link them with a possible surge in support for a rightwing autocracy.

It is worth mentioning, however, that Adolf Hitler’s rise initially was through democratic votes in general elections, with the Nazis becoming the biggest party in the Reichstag after the July 1932 election. It was after the November election of that year when they actually lost ground, when it was decided to offer Hitler the chancellorship, leading to the Enabling Act and the destruction of opposition parties.

Divisions on the left, with the inevitable lack of viable policies to challenge the promise of a strong Germany coming from Hitler, were an important factor in the rise of fascism, and must not be repeated here. The Labour leadership has a duty to provide a united opposition to the threat from the right; if Labour loses the support of its remain voters and their votes are shared around smaller parties, a significant and dangerous similarity could be created, with terrible consequences.
Bernie Evans
Liverpool

 Martin Kettle points to today’s echoes of 1920s and 1930s Germany. He is far from the only observer to make the point: in his final book, containing riveting biographical essays on individuals who stood up to Hitler, the late Paddy Ashdown wrote: “In reading this book you may be struck, as I was in writing it, by the similarities between what happened in the build-up to World War II and the age in which we now live. Then as now, nationalism and protectionism were on the rise and democracies were seen to have failed, people hungered for the government of strong men; those who suffered most from the pain of economic collapse felt alienated and turned towards simplistic solutions and strident voices … ‘fake news’ built around the convincing untruth carried more weight in the public discourse than rational arguments and provable facts.”Paddy comments wryly: “Painting a lie on the side of a bus and driving it around the country would have seemed perfectly normal in those days.”

Teaching the uncomfortable facts of history is crucially important and we neglect it at our peril.
Michael Meadowcroft
Leeds

Michael Meadowcroft concludes, after quoting from Paddy Ashdown’s last book before his death “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” (‘Today’s disturbing echoes of the buildup to the second world war’, Letters, May 19):
 
“Teaching the uncomfortable facts of history is crucially important and we neglect it at our peril”
 
Also tucked away on page 301 of “Nein!” – not referenced in the extensive Index –  is this prescient ‘gem of thought’ by the former Intelligence Officer and Liberal Democrat leader:
 
“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell, moral questions to be addressed here”
~ Richard W. Symonds
Ralph Lloyd-Jones of Nottingham is seriously mistaken in thinking George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four “was intended as a warning of what would become of Britain under socialists” (‘Orwell’s Dystopia is with us today’, Observer Letters, May 26).
As Orwell himself said in June 1949 – ‘Statement on Nineteen Eighty-Four’ – seven months before his untimely death aged 46 :
“But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you” [underlining in original Statement].
~ Richard W. Symonds
“Orwell perhaps lacked poetry, but, looking at our modern world of ideologies and wars, he echoes the message of Wilfred Owen, the greatest poet of the First World War: ‘All a poet can do today is to warn’. 1984 remains, by and large, a necessary warning”
~ Stephen Spender
“Brexit? We are being swept up, and swept away, in a wave of nationalistic fervour and hysteria. We have been there before. Let history speak: There is no happy ending. As Orwell said: ‘Don’t let it happen. It depends on you'”
~ Richard W. Symonds

 

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it”

May 15 2019 – “There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here” ~ Paddy Ashdown [“Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1939-1944” – Collins 2018 – Page 301 – Epilogue]

9780008257040

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

~ Paddy Ashdown

[Source: “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1939-1944” – Collins 2018 – Page 301 – Epilogue]

 

July 1945 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Service of Remembrance – Holy Trinity Church – Brompton Road – London

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“In July 1945, just three months after Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s execution, a service of remembrance in celebration of his life was held at the Holy Trinity church, just off the Brompton Road in London.

“To many who had suffered the trials and sacrifices of the war, holding a service in the British capital to remember a dead German was incomprehensible, distasteful and disturbing. The public prints were especially critical of the event. Nevertheless, the memorial service for Bonhoeffer’s life was full to overflowing.

“Speaking of his murdered friend, Bishop George Bell, who had tried so hard to make the voice of the German resistance heard by those who led the Western Allies, said: 

‘Dietrich has gone…our debt to [him] and to all others similarly murdered is immense. His death is a death for Germany – indeed for Europe too…He was inspired by his faith in the living God and his devotion to truth and honour. As one of a noble company of martyrs of different traditions, he represents the resistance to the living God to the assaults of evil, but also the moral and political revolt of the human conscience against injustice and cruelty’.

“In 1998, empty niches above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey were filled with the statues of ten ‘modern martyrs’. One of them is Dietrich Bonhoeffer”.

~ Source: “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Paddy Ashdown [in collaboration with Sylvie Young] – Collins 2018 – Page 310.