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My three parents


Falling in love with a boy from the Hitler Youth
Brian Sewell Writer
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I’m not sure that the continuation of the species depends on it at all. I think it… whether it’s chemistry or not, I don’t know. But I mean, all you have to do to continue the species is fuck. It’s as simple as that. And the effectiveness of fucking in the most unpleasant of circumstances is demonstrated by what happened when the Russians invaded Germany in 1944, ’45. Because they raped every woman they could find and special arrangements had to be made by the Germans to allow abortions. Now that... if the abortions had not been allowed, the human race would have been multiplied by the consequences of mass rape, angry rape, military rape, rape… but that rape is a congress which begets children. So it has nothing to do with continuing the human race.

I don’t quite know what it does have to do with, because I remember falling in love at the age of 14 with a boy in the Hitler Youth. And this is not quite as ridiculous as it seems, but where Brent Cross now is, with its great shopping centre... used to be open fields, and every patch of open ground during the war was cultivated. It had to be. Things were grown on it, no matter how small. And this must have been a piece of land of perhaps an acre, not more. It was encased in very high, rather loose mesh wire. You couldn’t climb over it, and German prisoners were working inside it. And I… my school was in Hampstead and the playing fields were in Mill Hill, and twice a week one had to cycle from Hampstead to Mill Hill to play cricket. And I cycled past, and curious… the first time the German prisoners arrived... off my bike to have a look at them. Guarded by a couple of soldiers. And one of them was a very, very beautiful boy of about 16. Blond hair. Absolute Aryan perfection of this child. More beautiful than any other boy I’d ever seen, far more beautiful than any prefect. And we all had crushes on prefects. And I had a crush on this boy.

He could speak no English. I could speak very little German, just sort of 'Wie gehts?' and not much more. And we’d… every time I went to Mill Hill and came back again that they were there, we would just stand either side of the wire touching each other, because there was nothing else to be done. You could just touch through the wire. And I was besotted with him. I’ve never forgotten him. It was my first great emotional experience. Unlike with other boys at school, you couldn’t immediately have some kind of sexual activity, because the wire was there. So this was love. It had nothing to do with a quick wank. It had… it was a moving passion. So, you know, it’s a serious business, but it isn’t an illness.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Hitler Youth, Germany, Brent Cross, World War II, Mill Hill, Hampstead

Duration: 4 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012