Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman delves into her family album to explain why she’s so concerned by the rise of the far right in her constituency.

AT one of my recent constituency surgeries, two prominent members of the local British National Party – Adam and Mark Walker – came to blame me for the fact that they are both out of work.

They claimed they had both been sacked from teaching jobs because I had denounced their racist politics.

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Of course, this is completely untrue – MPs have no power to hire or fire public servants. Moreover, they are the authors of their own destruction – they both have faced disciplinary charges for improper behaviour in schools.

But this is typical of the crazy lies and false victimhood adopted by the far right: wrongly blaming others for their own situation.

We must learn the lessons of history, and stand up for what we believe in.

The first photographs on this page were taken by my Danish grandfather, Johannes Villumsen, in 1935.

He was the head of a further education college and a committed Anglophile with a large collection of English books.

He became so alarmed about what he had read in newspapers about the rise of the Nazis in Germany that he travelled a few kilometres south over the Danish border into Schleswig Holstein in north Germany – an area the Danes and the Prussians had disputed for centuries.

The first town of any note south of the border is Flensborg, and there my grandfather captured frightening photographs of the Nazi swastika flying from almost every building in the main street, and of the railway station decked out to proclaim Führer Adolf Hitler.

Unfortunately, the warnings of the dangers of the rise of fascism were not heeded and my grandfather’s fears were more fully realised than he could have imagined when, in April 1940, Germany invaded Denmark.

Initially, the Germans hoped that the occupation could be achieved without tying down significant resources so Denmark was allowed to keep its own king, parliament and government.

My mother recalls that in the early days there weren’t so many members of the resistance. However, gradually the constraints were tightened, provoking strikes, causing the resistance to grow and sabotage to begin until there was a crisis in 1943. When the Danes refused to implement the death penalty, the Nazis imposed military law. The Danes also refused to co-operate with orders to round up the Jewish community and helped most to escape to neutral Sweden.

The second set of photographs in my family album are of the damage caused by bombing in my grandfather’s hometown of Vejle. They were actually British bombs that did the damage – dropped by an RAF pilot who was being chased by a German plane and needed to lighten his payload over what he thought was the sea – but they show the impact of war, how it shatters ordinary lives.

There is a story that when the Nazis ordered that all Jews should wear the yellow Star of David, King Christian X decided to wear one too on his daily, unguarded horse ride around Copenhagen which itself became a symbol of the resistance and that soon, many Danes were wearing them as a symbol of solidarity.

Out in the countryside my mother and other children made knitted woollen pompom hats with the colours of the RAF to the rage of the Nazi soldiers who hosed them down as punishment.

My family was part of the resistance movement. My grandfather, Johannes, ran a resistance newspaper.

It was quite literally underground because he had a duplicator in the cellar and, as schoolchildren, my mother and her sisters delivered the newsletters to sympathisers.

My uncle, Anders, aged 17, belonged to a resistance cell which blew up railway lines and trains to disrupt Nazi communications. This was co-ordinated with the British.

He and others listened to the BBC for coded messages such as the “the baker’s oven is hot” or “the potatoes are boiling” and from this they would know where the RAF were going to drop explosives on the healthland in West Jutland.

He would then evade the curfew and go out at night to collect them.

There were some close shaves. On one occasion their car broke down when it was full of newly-collected armaments and some helpful German soldiers came along and, without searching the car, gave them a push start!

The dangers were very real – one of their cousins was betrayed and sent to a concentration camp.

Looking back now at the risks my grandmother let her children take to fight the Nazis, I see now how strongly she believed in what they were fighting for.

When I became the Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland I did not expect to find any connection to my family history, but I discovered that Winston Churchill had put the Special Operations Executive – the organisation which co-ordinated support for European resistance movements – under the charge of my predecessor, Hugh Dalton.

He represented Bishop Auckland from 1929 to 1959, with a four-year break in the early 1930s, and is most famous for being the Chancellor of the Exchequer who resigned in 1947 after accidentally leaking his Budget.

During the war, though, he was Minister of Economic Warfare, in charge of the SOE and instructed by Churchill to “set Europe blaze”.

So after the Liberation in 1945, the British really were seen as heroes: and it was not surprising that when my parents met they fell in love.