The First European war of 1914 to 1918, and the second European War of 1939 to 1945, have caused more loss of life than any previous wars conducted by any major empires in history. In the age of enlightenment and civilization, the large scale deaths of Jewish as a religious group by Germans as Europeans in concentration camps, killing about 6 million Jews, stands out as a brutal reminder of the need to move the world culture forward with the understanding needed for tolerance and acceptance of other religions and cultures. The biggest concentration camp was at Auschwitz which been very well publicized through documentaries and writings. The word Auschwitz has become synonymous with concentration camps and extreme brutality. Less attention has been given to many other minorities such as Jehowahs witnesses and other racial groups as blacks who have also suffered extremely. Very little has been said in praise of Jewish people who are about 1% of the world population but have significantly more Nobel Prizes winners than any single community. With the loss of Jewish lives, the world culture has lost the potential for human development from the people like Einstein who have contributed so much to human development. The novel refers to Humboldt University where there were many Jewish professors who were persecuted by the Nazis.
War tragedies of death do not reflect the glory of winners in the loss of life of those who supported the cause of Britain. The numbers here are approximate. Britain lost 383,800 military personnel and 67,000 civilian death; India which did not participate in the decisions to go to war and paid for the war effort lost 87,000 military casualties and about 2 million war related civilian casualties; Canada suffered 45,000 military deaths and no civilian deaths; Poland, an innocent third party in the Second War, suffered 240,000 military deaths and 5 million civilian deaths; Germany lost 5 million military deaths and about 1 million civilian deaths. Russia lost the most and their deaths are estimated to be between 8 to 20 million military deaths and 7 to 12 million civilian deaths, total being about 20 million. Auschwitz became synonymous with concentration camps of the Nazis and well publicized for its methods of torture of Jewish people. t the entrance of the Auschwitz Concentration camp there was a sign that read “Arbeit Macht Frei” ( Work makes you free). This freedom was lost in the death of 1 million Jews, 150,000 Poles, 2300 Romani and 400 Jehowah’s witnesses who died in gas chambers. Some died in medical experiments and some by diseases which came from filthy living conditions and starvation. Germany suffers guilt complex for these atrocities, but the new generation of Germans and innocent familes described in the novel, cannot be held accountable for the guilt of the past generation.
Noor Enayat Khan exemplifies the loyalty and support that Indians have given to Britain and the Empire. She was an Indian Muslim, born in Moscow, fluent in French and English, and brought up near Gordon Square in London which was near the Passfield Hall of the London School of Economics in London. She represents the spirit of many Indians and soldiers, including Gurkhas and Sikhs, who supported the British notwithstanding their status as colonial subjects accorded to them. Noor spied for the British during the second European war of 1939-1945 and was captured by the Germans and suffered extreme torture in the Dacau concentration camp of Germans where she died under torture in 1944. Her statute was unveiled at Gordon square many years after the end of the war and it was inaugurated on 8th November, 2012 by Princess Ann. It took 68 years for the British to recognize publicly her ultimate sacrifice for Britain. Her story of extreme suffering and support to the British represents lack of acknowledgement by the British for the Indian contribution to building the Empire. Churchill who led Britain in the war did not acknowledge the contribution of Indian soldiers. He refused to grant independence to India after the end of the war. He called the Indian leadership, including Gandhi, men of straw. He looked down at Mahatma Gandhi during the fasts he did to make his point for the non-violent struggle for independence from Britain.