Friday, May 1, 2009

The Holocaust: A Textbook Case

In my social studies class (a mixture of geography and history) we have just begun to wrap up our knowledge on World War II. I... felt quite strange reading about it; for me, it is one of the most interesting wars I've looked at, along with The Vietnam war.
We are about to start studying the Holocaust. Our teacher, Mr. Theisen, also teaches my english class, and he tries to make the two connect for a richer learning experience. So, for example, we read "Red Badge of Courage" whilst studying the Civil War, read "Fools Crow" whilst studying Native American culture... and now, we are studying "Night", by Elie Wiesel.
I have read some Holocaust fiction before- the graphic novel "Maus". And from the experience I had reading this graphic novel, I came away with something. It changed my life, so to speak. And now, just having started reading "Night", I wanted to share with you a small passage I found:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in the camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were condemned to live as long as God himself.

From this, and other Holocaust fiction I've read, I have derived a small fact: that you can never really learn about the Holocaust from a textbook. Sure, you can read about all the people that died, about the inhumane ways they were killed in.
But you will never learn the true horror from a textbook.
You need to read it from literature; preferably a first hand account, one such as "Maus" or "Night". And we need to learn this, because the enemy, even though physically defeated, will win this battle if we ever forget what happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment