The Spandau Ballet a dance of loneliness and death. Rudolph Hess, the bizarre deputy head of early Nazism, the stranger who was somehow Hitler’s No2, flew to earth in 1941, claiming he carried an offer of peace. At Nuremburg he barely listened, read Grimm’s fairy tales throughout, and when asked what verdict he’d been handed, said, “I don’t know. Death, probably.”

In fact he got life at Spandau. By 1987, his weird status unresolved, his confessions unlearned, his motivations no less cloudy than those of Albert Speer (much closer to the heart of evil, yet who only got 20 years), alone in the prison of Spandau, Berlin, he apparently hung himself aged 94.

Could he have been an agent provocateur? A spy? A man with a guilty conscience?

His 42 years imprisonment give us no answers. All they tell us is that the Spandau ballet is no dance of life. It is a dance of isolation.

Which makes it doubly odd that there should be a successful mainstream pop act with the name. In fact, in 1983, Spandau Ballet, Joy Division, New Order and A Certain Ratio (3 of these 4 being Factory bands) had all had chart hits and had all been named after Fascist people or ideas.

I think it is because people erroneously thought the time had gone, so it was harmless to make reference to a defeated enemy. What we call post-modernism, in other words.

But – without approval of the left, the project dissipated among accusations of actual fascism. Which was odd. But the left was very keen to label people who weren’t obviously socialist, the people weren’t interested in apologising, or accounting for their behaviour, so the labels stuck. This is before Harriet Harman, so it’s before the age when cringing apologies were expected for any breach of what the left deemed acceptable.

Unfortunately, those times are not yet dead.

There is no way that a band named Spandau Ballet or Joy Division could exist today, without their members being asked to apologise to people who weren’t involved and who didn’t suffer, but who like getting apologies.

Our ability to face what our culture did is less than it was in 1980. What we now demand is silence. Not satire, not humour, not irony, but silence. Just silence.

How can we come to terms with what our parents did and lived through, if we can’t deface it through humour and satire? How can we forget if we can’t look it in the eye and say “I am not afraid of you”? But that’s it. We are. We are afraid. We thought that we defeated the monster, but did we? I mean, really and truly – if we had defeated it, would we worry so much about showing its head?

About Kevin Donnelly

I'm also known as Lawrence George, which is the name I write for Helium under. I think I ought to ditch my pseudonyms before I forget which one is me.
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