I recollect that my school syllabus included a chapter on history of World War II and the dictators, Hitler and Mussolini, and I also remember wishing that they were never born – so that I didn’t have to cram all these stupid dates. I vaguely remember my sister urging me to read The Diary of Anne Frank, but I know I was so stuck up with Nancy Drew & Famous Five and Secret Seven that I didn’t want to read something that made her cry for several days.
Finally, I caught up.
Yes, I’ve been drowning myself in Holocaust books and the debate going on these days about Holocaust being one big fat lie, scripted by the Jews to get sympathy. There are articles out there which say that 6 million Jews were massacred. Then, there are articles which say there weren’t so many of them to begin with. And then, there are articles which say that along with 6 million Jews, 6 million other people also died and it was all attributable to war and not some crazy idea of Hitler to have a Jew-free Germany.
There are articles which say that the gas chambers never existed and there was no “systematic” killing of Jews. And there are pictures and countless survivors repeating eye-witness accounts of smoke from concentration camps and stench of burning flesh and sonder-kommando (Jewish prisoners in concentration camps forced to be a part of eliminating group) who passed it on to others in the camps that they were a part of the group that were forced to stuff people in gas chambers and take them out for burning later on.
Frankly, I am confused. I know that the winners always tell the story and that it is often exaggerated but are the Jews really winners here? Because there is no contesting the fact that millions of them, if not 6 million, were indeed killed. There are pictures of people thinner than zero-figure models and their eyes – God! Their eyes appear haunted by the devil himself! There are also videos on youtube taken by the Russian army while liberating some of the camps. Equally horrifying.
But I am glad I read both sides before deciding that it doesn’t matter even if the Holocaust deniers don’t agree with everything the survivors say and if their creed continues to grow. Because the books written by these survivors are so capturing, you know they are not lying because the words come straight from their nightmares. There is something about reading a real experience that is different. You know its not made up.
This is not exactly a book review but if someone is interested in reading about Holocaust, I suggest you start with The Diary of Anne Frank, which is about a girl in hiding with her family. Then you can go ahead with A Nazi Officer’s wife, which is of a Jew girl marrying a Nazi officer and her survival outside of the camps. Test what kinds of horrors you can digest and what sends you into depression. The concentration camps memories are certainly the most horrifying. Although, The Pianist (it was also made into a movie) which is about a Jew pianist hiding and evading camps, is also a very good read. The other two books which I loved because of their language and clarity of memories were All But my Life and Rena’s Promise.
I’m still hooked to Holocaust books. Have read a few others too. I want to read some book written by Germans. Maybe Mein Kamph will give some insight. I’m not sure.
Have you all ever been intrigued by the Holocaust debates or Holocaust books? Which ones do you recommend?