Lifestyle Editor | Kyrie Roxby
There is nothing in the world that can explain or help us understand the Holocaust and the millions of senseless murders that happened during it. There is, however, the need to remember the events of it and the many lives lost because of the violence and racism brought against millions of innocent people.
The best way of remembering all the horrors that happened is in ensuring that nothing similar can ever be done again. An end to the hate and anti-Semitism that allowed so much torture. It’s important to note that none of what Hitler did at the time was illegal. It only took others to silently accept his regime for it to be implemented in such an extreme and fatal way.
5 movies to watch revolving around the events of the Holocaust:
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
I’m sure we’ve all seen this heart-breaking depiction of the true story of businessman Oskar Schindler’s (eventual) efforts to save the lives of innocent Jews from being taken away and executed in concentration camps. Based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, this film portrays the horror of the holocaust and concentration camps in a way that will leave you sobbing and haunted.
2. Sophie’s Choice
Sophie’s choice is another devastating film about the survivor of Nazi concentration camps who had to make horrible choices to make it through alive. This film shows the effects of the Holocaust on the people that went through it and survived.
3. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
If you haven’t seen this already, you will have at least heard of it. Seen through the innocent and unknowing eyes of eight-year-old Bruno (the son of a commandant of a concentration camp). Bruno forges a forbidden friendship with a young Jewish boy on the other side of the chained fence of the camp, with horrible and unforeseen consequences.
4. The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945
As the title suggests, the pianist follows a Jewish musician as he struggles to survive the ruin of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War, forced to hide and watch the Holocaust until concentration camp prisoners are released.
As the most recently released film on this list, this is the only one that doesn’t focus primarily on the Holocaust around the time it was happening. This film is more about the true story of a legal battle between writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt and renowned denier David Irving to prove the Holocaust really happened.
Set in 1996, I’d recommend this movie for its message of the importance of remembering the Holocaust and its horrors due to those who would continue to instigate hate and lies, further dehumanising certain races.
5 Books you should read about the Holocaust:
1. Night by Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel survived several concentration camps and, in Night, puts his experience of terrible events and the toll it took into haunting detail. This can be seen as an incredibly archetypal Holocaust novel, containing an account of all the horrific physical, mental and emotional torment he went through. This novel was partly responsible to Wiesel winning a Nobel peace prize in 1986 and is definitely worth a read.
2. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
We all know this one. No matter how much you hear or think you know about Anne Frank, it will not be the same as reading through her experience first-hand in Diary of a Young Girl. Forced to live with her own and another Jewish family in a small hidden apartment to escape from Nazi control, Frank’s telling of their quality of life during the years before her death will bring you to tears.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death, this book (recently adapted into an award-winning film) gives the perspective of Liesel, a young German girl that is taken in by a foster family that later agrees to hide a Jewish boy. Following Liesel’s journey of stealing books from Nazi book-burnings and elsewhere, this novel explores an incredibly dangerous time with beautiful thought-provoking influence.
4. Boy 30529: A Memoir by Felix Weinberg
Weinberg survived five concentration camps, from being imprisoned in 1939 until he was liberated in 1945, with this memoir telling of all he went through as a young boy to survive all on his own. With devastating detail of horrible events that won’t ever leave you, Weinberg gives one of the last tales of survival from the holocaust.
5. The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
This explores the experience of many Russian women who fought during the Second World War, chronicling the cruel brutality of war in excruciating description, one testimony after another. Alexievich interviewed hundreds of women and tells their stories and point of views as an alternative to the usual male-dominated narrative in these non-fiction first-person accounts freshly translated into English.
5 Places to visit:
1. Auschwitz (Poland)
Nowhere else that you could visit will be as harrowing an experience as visiting Auschwitz, the place where more than one million prisoners were put to death.
As the most well-known of all the concentration camps, Auschwitz is the best place to visit if you want to fully realise everything that happened to the people sent there, including the terrifying medical experiments carried out there. It’s definitely an experience you can’t describe.
2. Anne Frank’s House (Amsterdam)
As the location of Anne Frank, her family’s, Pfeffer and the van Pel’s hideaway for more than two years, it is now a preserved tourist location used to memorialise and remember the lives of the people that hid there and those who helped them.
3. Yad Vashem (Jerusalem)
The Yad Vashem acts as the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, the ‘heart and soul of Jewish memory’ as named by Elie Wiesel. Israel is a Jewish country, and so in Jerusalem the Yad Vasham is dedicated to remembering the scars of the Holocaust that still run deep. Also housing the Holocaust History Museum, this is probably the finest and most comprehensive memorial containing Holocaust art, the Hall of Names and a synagogue.
4. Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe (Berlin)
Standing amongst the two thousand, seven hundred and eleven dull grey concrete slabs at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, this architectural maze is more to be experienced than seen. Walking through the coffin-reminiscent like slabs has a sombre effect, commiserating the more than six million Jews that died horrifically throughout the holocaust.
5. Oskar Schindler Factory (Krakow, Poland)
While Oskar Schindler gradually committed to saving Jewish people, he first used them as cheap labour in his factories. If you’re a big fan of the film, a visit to his factory in Krakow that now serves as a museum would definitely be worth a visit.