1. Holocaust is the story of Nazi atrocities going way beyond mere extermination of Jews. Doris L. Bergen, historian and an author gives new insights and nerve-chilling details using several survivor and eyewitness testimonies. Bergen has uncovered hitherto unknown photographs. The systematic extermination of Afro-Germans, non-Jewish Poles, the Soviets, and homo-sexual men, among others is far gruesome than what was thought earlier. Hitler’s men, police, and even his doctors were trained to be killers. Hitler’s regime created a sense of legitimacy to these vicious acts of genocide. Timothy Snyder describes in gross detail of how Jews on their death journey exchanged valuable objects for something as simple as potable water. And most of the times, they were mere promises never to be kept up. Jews were made to undress while being led to gas chambers, and the corpses had no dignity even in death. Gold teeth were ruthlessly pulled out to be handed to their German masters. The German soldiers would go to the nearby Polish villages exchanging this gold for food, sex, or alcohol.
After the war ended, the greedy locals dug graves for corpses, in an effort to find gold. When Jean Francois Steiner published ‘Treblinka’ that narrated a 1943 Revolt at a death camp, death camps were unknown before this. Samuel Moyn goes into why Francois Steiner’s book was published and furore it created with it. He has, in the process, highlighted the French cultural history, and studied how perceptions about the Holocaust in the minds of French public changed after that. He explored it further into the borders of Israel and United States, which created very powerful resonance. The similarity between Snyder, Bergen, and Moyn is that they start their approach from different aspects, but ultimately discuss the same, to be precise the gruesome killings involved. However, only Moyn refers to Treblinka, while others do not. Snyder’s approach is from the point of the horror of the macabre incidents. Snyder’s opinions seem to be more persuasive because of the way he has narrated it.
2. Primo Michelle Levi was a Jewish of Italian origin and majorly a Holocaust survivor. He has written extensively on how he spent his life as a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. There are a number of movies that were made on the writings of Primo Levi. One such movie is Roman Polanski’s ‘The Pianist.’ This movie is a testament to the power of melody, the willpower and determination to live, and the audacity to stand against evil. This movie is about a young musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who was a survivor. It is his talent that saves him at a very critical juncture in life. Levi defined the paralyzed retort – the shocked nonexistence of response about the people bred to politeness and courteousness being hit in the face for the first time ever in their lives. In The Pianist, Szpilman’s father is hit on his face for an action as simple as walking on the same footpath on which the Schutzstaffel (SS) was walking. He was ultimately made to walk in the gutter. There is a kind of emotional detachment that Szpilman demonstrates, and this prompts us of Primo Levi’s work. This disinterest allows the reader to understand the actions of Szpilman in situations where the survival instinct takes over one’s mind because the survivor would not have the possibility of grieving as in normal situations.
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