‘On Hitler's orders, other Jewish families had been moved out of the neighbourhood to make way for his servants and bodyguards. But no-one had come knocking on the Feuchtwangers' door.’
The writer in me half-imagines a short story in which the boy drops a ball on the pavement, and it bounces towards the infamous chancellor who is striding from the apartment door to his waiting, gleaming car. The man instinctively picks up the ball and hands it to the boy, only then taking notice of him. What might he have said? Does he bend slightly and offer it good-humouredly? Most humans in history would have raised a smile at least, at the momentary easygoing connection with a child from their neighbourhood. But I can’t see it, and shudder.
Then I recall a moment on the London underground yesterday, when I heard a platform announcer encouraging passengers, in a buoyant, frankly irresistible Jamaican accent, to take care and make sure we buy and wear a poppy, to remember those who fought in the war. Humanity has to be unrelentingly assertive: don't take your eye off the ball.