Dame Jenni Murray calls for Britain to confront its colonial history

Dame Jenni Murray calls for Britain to confront its colonial history in same way Germany has with the Nazis – saying we have ‘a lot to learn from the Germans’

  • Former BBC Radio 4  presenter said Brits should teach its citizens about empire
  • She praised Germany’s approach of including Nazism in art and theatre  
  • Mrs Murray added: ‘Nazi monuments have been put in context’ 

Dame Jenni Murray has called for Britain to confront its colonial history in the same way Germany has done with the Nazis. 

The former BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter added that Brits have ‘a lot to learn from the Germans’. 

Mrs Murray said that Brits have been taught to have pride in the achievements of the British Empire without understanding the negative connotations.   

‘The debate around [British] colonialism must be had in full – the good and the bad,’ she wrote in her weekly column in Saga Magazine.

The former BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter added that Brits have ‘a lot to learn from the Germans’

‘We sang ”Rule, Britannia” with gusto and never thought to question how some of the revered local heroes whose statues stood in our towns and cities had made their money.’

Mrs Murray suggested that Britain adopt a similar approach to Germany which has been proactive in teaching its citizens about the Nazis in World War II. 

The country has addressed Nazism and the holocaust in a variety of ways including art and theatre. 

Mrs Murray added: ‘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.’

However, historian Dr Zareer Masani has blasted her comparison of the British Empire with Nazism as ‘completely historically illiterate’. 

Mrs Murray, who in 2011 questioned her acceptance of her damehood due to its links with Britain’s colonial past, went on to question the activists who toppled the statue of salve trader Edward Colston in Bristol last summer

He told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It is an outrageous comparison… 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.’

Mrs Murray, who in 2011 questioned her acceptance of her damehood due to its links with Britain’s colonial past, went on to question the activists who toppled the statue of salve trader Edward Colston in Bristol last summer. 

She concluded that a better approach may be to put offending statues or ‘symbols of the darker side of colonialism’ into context rather than tearing them down.  

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