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Bookends – Another kind of Remembrance is also important February 17, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Klondike Sun, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends – Another kind of Remembrance is also important

By Dan Davidson

November 8, 2016

– 640 words –

 

the-holocaustThe Holocaust: The Origins, Events and Remarkable Tales of Survival
By Philip Steele

Scholastic Books

96 pages

$15.00 in paperback edition

 

The Holocaust, the deliberate murder of six million Jews and some five million Slavic people, as well as Roma (Gypsies), is the Nazi policy that justifies the role of the Allied Nations in the carnage that was World War II.

There isn’t really a passable excuse for the extended family feud that was World War I, but the Second World War does have a palpable evil that needed to be fought against, stopped, and defeated. Nothing demonstrates that better than a close look at the Holocaust.

Philip Steele’s book provides just that in a version that has something to say to all ages, though it is primarily aimed at younger readers.

The book is set up a bit like a museum between covers. There are hundreds of images, maps and documents, each of them identified with descriptions and explanations, set in a variety of typefaces, that look like museum cards and tags.

An introductory section provides a framework within which to understand what the message of the book will be.

The Coming Storm provides a history of the Jewish people in Europe, from the time of the initial diaspora from the original homeland. It shows how these people became embedded in countries all over Europe, and the long history of anti-Semitism, running through the Middle Ages and up to the 20th century.

It also chronicles the contributions the Jews made in the realms of philosophy, science and culture.

There is a brief section on the First World War, and then Steele develops the post-war background that leads to the growth of the Nazi party in Germany as a result of the Treaty of Versailles and failure of the Weimar Republic. There are large panorama shots of Nazi rallies and the images showing the beginnings of the propaganda that created the national will to accept the obvious persecution of an entire race of people.

Just how much the general public in Germany knew about the euphemistically termed Final Solution has never been entirely certain, but there were certainly thousands of soldiers and SS members who were involved in the process and who knew exactly what they were doing.

The book chronicles the ways in which many Jews were enabled to escape Germany before the worst came, though those who only managed to escape to countries that were overrun by the German armies after 1939 were often scooped up later.

To the immense shame of much of the rest of the world, relatively little was done to help these people flee Europe entirely, though one two-page spread is dedicated to those who, like Oskar Schindler, did what they could.

Part II: From War to Genocide, goes into detail about life in the camps and the procedures that were carried out there: the dehumanizing daily routines, the forced labour, death by starvation, overwork and gas chambers.

Part III: Freedom and Remembrance, covers the end of the war, the problem of displaced persons, the trials at Nuremberg and the founding of the state of Israel. It concludes with a section about the various memorials and special events by which the Holocaust is remembered. This is not because people want to wallow in miserable memories, but because it is too easy in this world for such things to happen again if the memory grows too dim.

There is so much evidence in just this one slim volume that it is incredible to thing that there is an underground industry of Holocaust deniers who would have us believe that none of this ever happened. It is because of such people that books like this are very important.

 

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