June 23, 2009

Diane McKenzie on The Holocaust

One person commented on my blog post about Japanese Internment Camps, that she and her daughter were reading and learning about World War II and the holocaust. My granddaughter read many books on the holocaust when she was in her pre and early teen and my daughters and I continue to read books on the holocaust.

Books for children and teenagers about the Holocaust

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, by Judith Kerr. 1971

Partly autobiographical novel of escape from German by a wealthy Jewish family in about 1933. They lose all their possessions. The concerns of the children seem to be very realistic – having friends, school. Apparently this book is now used in German schools to introduce the Nazi period.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, 1990

A wonderful book for all ages. I have read it several times. It is used in many curricula as early as 3rdh grade. The story is set in Denmark and reflects how the Danish really did save many Jewish families during WW II.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, 2005

After reading The Book Thief we all went out and read everything else that Zusak had written. His other books are good, but The Book Thief is a masterpiece. It is set in Germany during the war. The heroine is not Jewish, but lives in a lower class working family. The horror of repression is all the more real because you see how it affects everyone in society and infiltrates individual decision making. With help, children around 12 could probably read it. It is a thick book but thanks to Harry Potter that no longer is a deterrent.

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Anne Frank remains the standard for books about the holocaust. Written during the time her family was hiding from Nazis her positive attitude is amazing. It also gives a good picture of how people had to live – the silence, the sharing of food and the difficulties of being unable to leave their hiding place.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. 1974.

Personal narrative of a young woman who worked in the anti-Nazi Dutch underground. She was eventually sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. This book has very strong religious overtones. I am not sure of your religious outlook, but it worth noting that many religious people played significant roles in the underground during World War II. Of course, there is another side to how various churches responded.

Movie about the Holocaust

The movie Schindler’s List is a masterpiece. I am typically so upset by seeing films about atrocities that I do not watch them. But my husband told me that I really needed to watch this one. We watched it at home so I could stop and look around and recognize where I was – watching movies in a darkened theatre heightens my reactions. I would not have younger children watch this unless they were prepared for what is happening and have a chance to discuss and ask questions. I still have nightmares but then the holocaust was a nightmare and we should have nightmares about it.

Other Books about the Holocaust that I have not read

There are many other books about the Holocaust. I have not read these but hope toand several of these were recommended by my family members. I have listed mostly memoirs and true stories since these have such immediacy. I also tended to select titles that reflect children’s experiences. All the books are supposed to be accessible to children in 6th – 7th or 8th grade. The Holocaust Museum (which everyone should visit) maintains a wonderful website with suggestions of books and other excellent information.

The Hidden Children: The Secret Survivors of the Holocaust, by Jane Marks. 1993. Personal narratives of Holocaust survivors who experienced World War II as children.

A Field of Buttercups, by Joe Hyams. 1968
The story of Dr. Janusz Korcza, who gave up a successful medical practice to open the Our Children's Home orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the orphanage was forced to move into the Warsaw Ghetto. In August 1942, the orphanage was evacuated from the ghetto to the death camps. Dr Korcza was given the option of abandoning the 200 Jewish children in his care, but chose to die together with the children.

Worlds Torn Asunder, by Dov Beril Edelstein.. 1985
A rabbi describes his experiences as a deeply religious 17-year-old confronting the hell of Auschwitz.

Liliana's Journal. By Liliana Zuker-Bujanowska, 1980.

Lilian’s memoir about her experiences from 1939-1945 in Warsaw

The Cigarette Sellers of Three Crosses Square by Joseph Ziemian,1975
The true story of a group of Jewish children who escape from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and survive in the Nazi-occupied city, while supplying food and arms to the Jewish.

A Partisan's Memoir, Woman of the Holocaust, by Faye Schulman.1995.
Personal narrative of a Jewish teenager from Lenin, a small town on the, Polish - Russian border. Includes photographs taken by the author.

There is Always Time to Die, by Adam Starkopf. 1981

Personal narrative of an extraordinary escape from the Warsaw Ghetto and years of hiding under Catholic identities. (Also published as Will to Live: One Family's Story of Surviving the Holocaust, 1995)

Mischling, Second Degree: My Childhood in Nazi Germany, by Ilse Koehn 1977
The memoirs of a German girl who became a leader among the Hitler Youth while her Social Democratic family kept from her the secret of her partial Jewish heritage.


Katherine said...

*Things We Couldn't Say* is another excellent resource. Though, I would preread it before I handed it to a kid. I read it so long ago, I can't remember the level of direct brutality. Its an excellent first person account of German resistance.

Anonymous said...

We found and pulled out Number the Stars today, Diane! Along with Diary of Anne Frank. Thanks again! (Hope you got my email...gmail has been acting really strange for me lately!)

MOM #1 said...

I got a copy of Schindler's List from the library yesterday and we watched it last night. Goodness! I had nightmares about it.

I guess I was too young and self-indulgent when it came out, because I managed to get through life without ever seeing it.

It really is a powerful movie. It's one thing to THINK you know about something, but the visual imagery is so strong. Unbelievable.

The Hiding Place was required reading when I was in high school, I think I'm going to pick a copy up for Baby Boy and me to read through over the summer.

Thanks for all of the book recommendations. What an invaluable resource.

anonymous said...

You may wish to read the comment on "Schindler"s List" posted on www.miamifauxlawyers.blogspot.com/ It is one of the most incisive articles about the film. It can be read in a few minutes but the points are well-made.

anonymous said...

Just read the above entry at the miamifauxlawyers blog. It is concise and beautifully written.Good work.