Friday, June 11, 2010

Somber Thoughts -- This Post is About Movies Addressing the Holocost

I have been watching Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust. It is a documentary about how Hollywood handled the atrocities of the Nazis during WWII. I have been watching bits at a time. This is strong stuff. There are many bits of information I had never known. Like Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, was the first movie to use the word 'Jew'. How Hitler tried to control how the world perceived his atrocities and how he was allowed to do his own form of spin control. There is also archival footage of the camps being liberated.
There is a portion of the documentary that focuses on Anne Frank. It brought back a lot of memories for me. In junior high, a friend asked me to recommend a book. I had seen The Diary of Anne Frank mentioned in an article in the Parade Magazine. So, I recommended it. I hadn't read it yet. I guess the book really upset her. Her mother came down on me like a ton of bricks!

I explained it was on a list of recommended books for kids our age; as we were the age Anne was when she went into hiding. Later, my mom explained that not everyone had my ability to look at the world, feel empathy, and then come to terms with it all. Some people just couldn't handle the 'real world'. Like I knew, from listening to my parents and other family members, just what my uncles had encountered during WWII. I knew and I felt the anguish for those victims. Yet, I knew that somehow, somewhere I would do my best to help others in their situation.

In 9th grade, our class was gathered in the gym to view, Mien Kamph, a documentary that pulled no punches about Hitler and his 'Final Solution'. We viewed it in two parts. You have never heard 200 junior high students leave a school so quietly. We all walked home alone those two afternoons. The usual horseplay and laughter was stifled by what we had just experienced. I will never forget the ‘showers’ with the scratches from fingernails up the walls. There was one set of very small scratches where a mother held her child up as high as she could in a vain effort to save a life.

Of course, the movie, The Diary of Anne Frank, was shown in television reruns quite frequently. I know I watched it several times. I was mesmerized by the characters ability to hope and dream. And my sisters and I all cried at the inevitability of the ending.

In high school, I played Mrs. Van Damme in the play, The Diary of Anne Frank. That final scene, I wasn't acting. I was that scared knowing what happened to all those people.

Anyway, I recommend watching and reading all the above. Not all at once. Over time, allow yourself to take in the information and process it. Then, apply all that to today and what our world has become and is becoming. What can you do to change all that? How can we all work to erase inhumanity in an inhumane world?

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