Friday, 28 January 2022

Not forgetting!

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. On the television news they featured a 98 year old holocaust survivor. She’s one of number of people whose portraits have been commissioned by Prince Charles, another way of preventing us from forgetting that this happened. Because, of course, the survivors are all growing older and disappearing; those who spent years visiting schools to talk about the holocaust are almost all gone now. And we mustn’t forget that perfectly ordinary people, the sort of people who might live next door, found themselves involved in something so awful. We mustn’t let it happen again, to anybody anywhere. 

Yesterday also I came across this article about the novel “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, the story of an eight year old, the son of a nazi officer, who befriends another eight year old, a prisoner in the camp run by his father. 

Someone lent me the book several years ago. A sad and moving book, well written, it seemed to me it would serve as a good way to begin discussion of the holocaust with children. Now it’s getting some criticism as giving perhaps too simplistic a view of events, and possibly giving young people a false impression, causing them to sympathise with the nazi soldiers and believe that nobody in Germany had any idea of what was going on. Surely if teachers use this as a resource it should be as a starting point, not as a total representation of reality. As the article tells us, “Drama and English teachers were more likely to use it than history teachers.” We must trust our teachers to use it sensibly. And surely nowadays there are lots more resources to add to the study of the topic. The important thing is that it should not be forgotten and that our children should learn tolerance and compassion.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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