A British Pathé newsreel from 1928 showing the city of Cardiff before World War 2.
Here’s some unused footage shot in 1928
In March 1190, the entire Jewish community of York – about 150 people – barricaded themselves inside the castle as antisemitic riots raged outside. The mob, encouraged by the crusader fervour of the new king, Richard I – and some of them motivated by an opportunity to wipe out their debts – bayed for blood. Faced with death at the hands of the marauders or forced baptism, most of the Jews inside the castle chose suicide. In an echo of the first-century siege of Masada, the mountain-top fortress beside the Dead Sea in Israel, the men killed their wives and children before setting fire to the wooden keep. There were no survivors. The massacre of the York Jews is among the most notorious of countless pogroms in the bloody history of the Jewish people and is commemorated in a kinah, or lamentation, recited on the fast day of Tisha B’Av. For eight centuries, the city of York has had dark connotations for Jews all over the world.
I was drawn to this story because I’m from York, and the story of the massacre of the Jews in Cliffords Tower is one we were told about at school. Today, anyone doing a ghost walk in the city is likely to hear the story and it’s a shame it’s become “entertainment”. There’s a story about how the stones of the tower turn red every so often, supposedly due to blood stains (though I heard that it’s to do with a type of lichen – if indeed it’s true at all).
Reading this made me think about the whole issue of apologies for past atrocities, which comes up every now and then when a politician visits a former colony – a massacre here, slave trade there etc. All very real horrors and important parts of our shared history, and I’m being deliberately flippant because pausing to consider it all is overwhelming.
But I’ve never quite understood the idea of apologising for something someone else did – what could it possibly mean? Clearly it means a great deal to those asking for it, but nothing whatsoever to those being asked to make it. In which case… it’s of little value. Symbolism is important, but a symbolic apology is not an apology, just a word. Sorry.
I’m sorry for what happened in York in 1190. But I can’t apologise for the actions of those who did it, or those who still harbour antisemitic views. I don’t speak for them in the same way they did not, and do not, speak for me.
Read the full story here