Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Stories of the Holocaust

Art Spiegelman's Maus is one of many accounts of the Holocaust. Back in public school, I dug into a few books related to the Holocaust. Part of it was an interest in European history related to World War II. The other part of my interest was a burning question: why would one group of people deem another group of people as "vermin" and send them to the gas chambers? It relates to my interest in prejudice's cause and elimination.

But moving on, I want to give an overview on a few more memoirs of the Holocaust that I have read and might be worthwhile reading...

Night by Elie Wiesel

This first hand account of the Holocaust was written by Eliezel (the author of the book) who was a boy at fifteen living in Hungarian Transylvania until the Nazis took over Hungary. Elizel and others were transported to Auschwitz, one of the most infamous concentration camps during the Holocaust. Elizel and his father are separated from the rest of his family, whom he never sees again.

This memoir is harrowing and heart breaking. The prisoners become selfish after initial cruelty by the Nazis, concerned about their own survival between facing forced labor and the possibility of being hanged to death. Elizel's faith is tested as he witnesses death and depression around him.

A hard thing to believe is that some people don't know about the Holocaust. A harder thing to swallow is that some people deny the Holocaust! Night should be read to better understand how horrible genocide is from a survivor's perspective.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen's historical novel is about a Jewish girl named Hannah who is transported back to Poland in 1942. She is sent to a concentration camp. Hannah learns to appreciate her Jewish heritage and customs through witnessing the cruelties of the Nazis and realizing she took her modern life and heritage for granted.

Yolen does an excellent job describing horrendous parts of Hannah's imprisonment in the concentration camp while balancing it with the protagonists' struggle for survival and sanity. There's humanity remaining with Hannah interacting with other survivors contrasting with inhumanity. One of the more horrible scenes is when Hannah is led into a cramped boxcar where several people die in the process. Overall, The Devil's Arithmetic is another book that should be checked out.

Others books worth mentioning would be...

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank - This account is one of the best known resources regarding to the Holocaust but one that I haven't read yet. It is the diary of a thirteen year old girl who witnesses Hitler's influence in Amsterdam and the control of the Jewish population in the area.

Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary, 1939-1944 by Aranka Siegal - This young adult novel depicts the life of Piri Davidowitz who witnesses the Nazi takeover in Hungary. Aside from The Devil's Arithmetic, this is a book both kids and adults will dig into.

There are, of course, many memoirs, novels and reference guides to the Holocaust. There is not a concrete list on all media related to the Holocaust to be found but a list can be found here.

- Kristopher

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