Ex-BBC presenter criticised for comparing history of British Empire to Nazis

Former BBC Woman’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray has come under fire after comparing the need for Britain to reflect on its colonialist history to Germany’s atonement for Nazism and the Holocaust.

In her weekly column for Saga magazine, Murray claimed Britain has “a lot to learn from the Germans.

“They have an impossibly long word, ‘vergangenheitsaufarbeitung’, which means ‘coming to terms with the past’.

“In recent decades, they have addressed Nazism and the Holocaust in art, theatre, television and cinema. 

“Nazi monuments have been put in context, and commemorative ‘stumbling stones’ – small brass plates inscribed with the names of victims of the regime have been installed in pavements 1,200 locations. Police cadets are taught the history of Nazi policing and are made to visit a concentration camp. 

“It’s time now for us to dampen down the nostalgia and look to our future as a multicultural society with shame understood and acknowledged by everyone, never to be repeated.”

Her comments have drawn strong criticism from historian Dr Zareer Masani, a Macaulay child born in Bombay, who labelled her “outrageous comparison” of the British Empire with Nazi Germany “completely historically illiterate.

“I don’t think anyone who makes that comparison has any knowledge of history,” said Masani.

“It is a fashion in some parts of the liberal left to equate the two things as part of a post-colonial guilt syndrome that they suffer from. 

“But I think it is quite insulting to people like me who grew up under the Empire and have a very positive experience of it.”

Founder of the Save Our Statues campaign, Robert Poll called the comparison with the Third Reich “disgusting”, “an insult both to the victims of the Nazi regime, and to the men of Britain and the Empire who fought and gave their lives to help those victims.”