When the world turned blind


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?

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32 thoughts on “When the world turned blind

  1. anya says:

    The fact is holocaust did happen, how many people died? I don’t know. One person dying is one too many. Fact is thousands of Romani people (or as the Europeans call them “gypsies”) also died, because well they were nomads, dark people from the Indian sub continent and It was easy to kill people that have no Voice. Fact is as I type people are being killed for the color of the skin, their religious beliefs or lack there of, their orientation, or nationality.

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    • A regular Indian girl! says:

      I agree. I have read people arguing against holocaust saying that jews want sympathy and hence, they are all singing about holocaust as if the gypsies and others didn’t suffer. I only have one thing to say. Lets be thankful that at least a part of the people suffering were educated enough to write books. There are many people suffering today in third world countries. But lets accept it that not many of them would be able to write a single comprehensible sentence, let alone a book on their sufferings. This doesn’t make the holocaust any less horrifying than these other people. The only difference is we get to know what happened in holocaust because of survivors’ accounts.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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  2. Priya says:

    All the books mentioned above are good. Also watch the Schindler’s List if you haven’t already.
    I’ve been to the Dachau, a concentration camp in Germany. Now it is maintained as a historical site. I walked across the large square courtyard and imagined how the prisoners were made to stand to attention in the biting cold in tattered clothing. I saw the bunk beds they slept in that looked like cages for animals. There were photographs of prisoners being used for experiments taken by German doctors, to record in their journals. I read the notes some of the prisoners wrote and hid in the walls- to be smuggled to the outside world, so others may see through the Nazi war propaganda and respond to what’s happening inside the prison camp. One of the notes said, (translated) “If I get caught hiding this note, they will destroy it, torture me and make me die a horrible death. But if I don’t get caught, someone somewhere will know the truth and someone somewhere will be helped to leave this hell.” It was bone chilling.

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    • A regular Indian girl! says:

      Shit! That seriously made me shudder. I saw the photographs of Auschwitz and the gas chamber. I had nightmares for a few days of being taken away to such a place.

      In the past, no topic has held so much attraction for me as Holocaust. I get tired with it in a few days. But this has gripped me like a fever. I can’t put it out of my mind. How can people do this to other people? 😦

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  3. perspectivesandprejudices says:

    Do read ‘all my love detrick’ and its sequel, ‘you are my sunshine’. There’s a third book in the series that I haven’t read yet but I’m guessing that’ll be good too. The Horrifying stories but both are beautiful books. ‘Those who save us’ is another book from the perspective of the German public who were left to pick up the pieces after hitler’s fall. That’s a good read too. I’m like you – obsessed with reading about the holocaust. I can’t believe human beings actually did that to each other. There were times when i had to put away these books and get up because it was making me physically nauseous. Imagine living in such horrible times!

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    • A regular Indian girl! says:

      Seriously! I can’t imagine having to go through all that and still retaining a selfless part of yourself. When I read some books and they say how people helped one another in those horrifying times, personally, I feel ashamed because sometimes I find myself being unnecessarily selfish even in easy life like mine.

      I’ll surely mark these for to-read. Right now, I am reading “Alicia: My story”. It is also a very moving book.

      Glad to find another enthusiast. 🙂

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  4. hoarderofallthings says:

    I first read an excerpt from “The diary of Anne Frank” when I was 13,as a part of academics. Then,a lot of my classmates and teachers had emphasised more than enough on it and somehow I never had the urge to read it. Maybe I wasn’t( or am not) mature enough to fully understand it. Although after having watched Schindler’s List and The book thief,I do want to go back and give the book another try.
    Thank you for the list of books 🙈😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • A regular Indian girl! says:

      You’re welcome! I want to read The Book Thief and Schindler’s List. They are on my to-read list!

      If you have seen Schindler’s List and The Book Thief, you might not like Anne Frank’s Diary so much. It does not have any details of the political situation or anything about the war. It is more of a rambling of a teenager who was forced to remain cooped up in hiding with people she did not like. Teenagers connect more with it, I guess.

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  5. nerdlovewords says:

    I read a lot of holocaust literature. And see movies. You can get a list of such books on Goodreads. “Well-written holocaust books”. By the way, holocaust denial is a crime in several countries. It did happen. The numbers are tricky. It could have been 6 million or 5 million or 7 million. But it did happen. I recommend documentaries as well. They depict so much of the horror.

    I recently saw and read – The Book Thief and The Boy in Striped Pajamas movies and books. Life is Beautiful and the Pianist are two more books based on the holocaust, which have been made into movies. You can also read Schindler’s list and see the movie.

    The very famous director – Roman Polanski, who directed Rosemary’s Baby, is a survivor.

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