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Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Discussion: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sorry to be a downer on this gray, rainy day, but this week the Monday Discussion falls on Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. From Wikipedia:
Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has an entire week dedicated to Remembrance.  Click here for details.

For RA purposes, I am sure you are all aware that books about WWII and the Holocaust are especially popular.  So, to honor the day and to help give each other ideas on good leisure reading choices for patrons who want to read about the Holocaust, I though we could all suggest some options here today.

I'll go first. I have read many books about the Holocaust, but I thought I would suggest two titles that took a slightly different path to telling a story for which I thought I "knew everything," ultimately teaching me something new while still being a compelling read.  Both were read in my book club, so the links go to a full report on the book.

First, is nonfiction: The Zoo Keeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  From my book discussion report:
This is a book about people, animals, nature, and war.
Jan and Antoninia Zabinski were the zookeeper and his wife in Warsaw when the Germans invaded. Over the years that Warsaw was occupied, working with the Polish resistance, they were able to shelter and save over 300 Jews from certain death by hiding them in the zoo. Naturalist Ackerman, has scoured Antoninia journals, interviewed her son, and scoured the surviving records of the Polish resistance in order to recreate the fascinating, forgotten, true-life story of the zookeeper's wife and the true nature of the obsessive evil that was Nazism.
The second is fiction: Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.  From my book discussion report:
Suite Francaise is the title Nemirovsky gave for her planned collection of 5 novels about France during WWII. Nemirovskywrote the first 2 books and outlined the third while she and her family were trying to allude the Germans, who had occupied Paris and its suburbs. As stateless Jews (of Russian descent)Nemirovsky and her husband were subject to deportation. Ultimately, Nemirovsky and her husband were sent to concentration camps (separately) where they died. Their children were hidden and managed to save the manuscripts and notes, which published with her translated notes and correspondences with her husband and publisher once Nemirovsky was arrested by the Germans, make up the book Suite Francaise.

Now it's your turn.  Share a book appropriate for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.


bplTEENS Tara said...

As a kid, one of my favorite books to read and re-read was "Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself" by Judy Blume. Sally was a little girl, growing up in the 1940s. The story revolves mostly around Sally's family and her new home and school in Florida. But, for a young Jewish girl in the 40s, thoughts of WWII cannot help but color her perspective.
As a teenager, I loved Corrie ten Boom's memoir, "The Hiding Place." Ms. ten Boom was a Dutch woman whose family hid Jews from the Nazis in a small hidden chamber in their home.
As an adult, I read Jerzy Kosinski's "The Painted Bird." I can't really say that I loved it, but it captured me and held me captive even though I wanted to turn away. It's a dark and disturbing look into the human soul and the atrocities that humans are capable of committing - as small groups and individuals - set against the large-scale atrocity of the Holocaust.

Christi said...

I second The Hiding Place by Corie ten Boom. I found it incredibly powerful to read when I was younger.

On the movie side, Life is Beautiful is one of the most touching and gut wrenching movies I've ever seen. It's so much more than a movie set during the Holocaust. It's the story of a father's love for his son.

John BPL RA said...

I always enjoyed Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman. I appreciated the eye-witness testimony. The use of the cat and mouse metaphor is genius.

Betty said...

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. An egotistical, self centered architect is asked by a wealthy (non-Jewish) industrialist to build a hiding place for a Jewish man in an apartment in Paris. The architect resists but finally gives in because of the promise of a large commission from the industrialist. And the story goes on.

On the movie side, I've been watching documentaries on Roku. Just finished the Goebbels Experiment and Hitler's Children. Hitler's Children is especially affecting because the children and grandchildren of the Nazi elite are feeling terrible guilt for what their family members had done.