Sunday, October 28, 2007

Downfall, Rescue & Admiration

Last weekend, Cam and I watched a German film about the end of Hitler's reign.

Downfall was interesting, educational and mind-boggling.

Seeing it prompted me to pick up a book I'd purchased awhile ago.

I'd wanted to share In My Hands, Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer with Sam, as a way to talk with him about the Holocaust and heroic people who risked their lives to care for others.

Since I was sort of between books, I decided to read it on my own. Irene Gut Opdyke, who, as a very young Polish woman, began fighting against the oppression and wickedness she witnessed, came along with me on most of my commutes this week.

I'd read the Diary of Anne Frank and seen Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful which gave me a tiny bit of insight into the experiences of Jewish people during the war.

But I didn't know much about how life was for others at that time.

Downfall gave an account of the situation faced by the German people at the end of the war. They were sacrificed without regard and sabotaged without remorse by their leader. Many felt powerless to disagree or challenge his madness, for fear of losing their lives.

In My Hands, told of the impact of the war on the people of Poland. I knew Jewish citizens were treated inhumanely but I didn't know that Polish people who weren't Jews were forced to work against their will and follow orders or die.

That some people, from every culture, took action for what was right, despite intense oppression, is inspirational. I admire their courage.

1 comment:

Carma said...

Interesting book. I agree that we need to teach the kids about the horrors of war and especially the dangers of believing too much in your leaders. Too many people are saying that the Holocast never happened and many who survived are old and dying off.
Many forget that it was not just the Jews that Hitler was going after but anyone that didn't fit his view of the perfect "super people". Funny enough, he didn't fit his vision of the Ayran Nation. He also went after homosexuals, gypsy (Roms), and anyone else who was outside the fringe.
Another interesting book that you may be able to find in your library is called We Are On Our Own by Miriam Katin. It is a graphic novel. I would recommend reading it before you let Sam, but it is quite good. A scene that bothered me the most was early in the book. The Germans took pet dogs from Jewish families. It was just jarring to me.
A book that is pretty close to age appropriate for Sam is called The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. There is even a movie based off the book that was made in 1999 with Kirsten Dunst. And while fiction, I think it was pretty good as well.