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Soon there will be no more eyewitnesses. The Holocaust is inexorably moving from personal testimony to textual narrative. Survivors, those who clung to life no matter how unbearable so that they could confirm the unimaginable and attest to the unbelievable, are harder to find after more than half a century.
It is the written word that will have to substitute for the heart-rending tales of woe shared by those who endured hell on earth.
That is, after all, all that will remain of six million victims. Holocaust authors have a daunting responsibility.
They must speak for those who cannot, but whose suffering demands to be remembered and whose deaths cry out for posthumous meaning. Their task transcends the mere recording of history.
It is nothing less than a sacred mission. Holocaust literature, like the biblical admonition to remember the crimes of Amalek, deservedly rises to the level of the holy. For that reason I admire anyone who is courageous enough to attempt to deal with the subject. No, there will never be too many books about this dreadful period we would rather forget.
No, we have no right to ignore the past because it is unpleasant or refuse to let reality intrude on our preference for fun and for laughter. And John Boyne is to be commended for tackling a frightening story August drama essay fence gate have may wilson needs to be told to teenagers today in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas -- a fictional account of the Nazi era that uses the powerful device of a tale told from the perspective of its nine year old hero.
I came to this book fully prepared to love it. Although the publisher insists that all reviewers not reveal its story, the back cover promises "As memorable an introduction to the subject as The Diary of Anne Frank.
The style, sharing with Anne Frank the distinctive voice of youth, is extremely effective. One can readily understand why the book has had such a strong impact on countless readers, become required reading in high school Holocaust courses round the country, and is about to be released as a major motion picture.
And yet… How should one react to a book that ostensibly seeks to inform while it so blatantly distorts? Without giving away the plot, it is enough to tell you that Bruno, the nine-year-old son of the Nazi Commandant at Auschwitz never identified by that name, but rather as "Out-With" -- a lame pun I think out of place in context lives within yards of the concentration camp his father oversees and actually believes that its inhabitants who wear striped pajamas -- oh, how lucky, he thinks, to be able to be so comfortably dressed --spend their time on vacation drinking in cafes on the premises while their children are happily playing games all day long even as he envies them their carefree lives and friendships!
And after a year of surreptitious meetings with a same-aged nine-year-old Jewish boy who somehow manages every day to find time to meet him at an unobserved fence!
Note to the reader: Do you see the most egregious part of this picture? There were millions who knew and did nothing. There were "good people" who watched -- as if passivity in the face of evil was sinless.
If there is to be a moral we must exact from the Holocaust it is the "never again" that must henceforth be applied to our cowardice to intervene, our failure to react when evildoers rush in to fill the ethical vacuum. Yet if we were to believe the premise of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, it was possible to live in the immediate proximity of Auschwitz and simply not know -- the very defense of all those Germans after the war who chose to deny their complicity.
True, Bruno in the story was but a boy. But I have spoken to Auschwitz survivors. They tell me how the stench of burning human flesh and the ashes of corpses from the crematoria filled the air for miles around. The trains traveling with human cargo stacked like cordwood screaming for water as they died standing in their natural wastes without even room to fall to the ground were witnessed throughout every countryside.
Nobody, not even little German children who were weaned on hatred of the Jews as subhuman vermin could have been unaware of "The Final Solution. However that misses the point. This is a story that is supposed to convey truths about one of the most horrendous eras of history.
It is meant to lead us to judgments about these events that will determine what lessons we ultimately learn from them.
So what will the students studying this as required reading take away from it? My Auschwitz friend read the book at my urging.
He wept, and begged me tell everyone that this book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation. No one may dare alter the truths of the Holocaust, no matter how noble his motives. The Holocaust is simply too grim a subject for Grimm fairytales.August drama essay fence gate have may wilson paul graham essays growth rate anti single gender schools argumentative essay essay faith good other tessaye johnson doing your best essay help karhu unessay terrorism and the law essay writer most outstanding student essay writing essay on what can be done to alleviate suffering in the world.
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