Tag Archives: Jewish Holocaust survivors

Flashback Friday: The Grey Zone (2001)

When we think of Holocaust movies, they are rarely light and sunny, for a good reason,

The Grey Zone hit theaters in 2001. It told the story of the Sonderkommandos (along with other prisoners) who led a revolt against their captors in Auschwitz. In an effort to stay alive a little longer, they have led their fellow Jews to their deaths. The moral quandary comes when the men discover that a young girl has survived the gas chambers. They do everything in their power to keep her alive and out of view of the Nazis. Starring Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, and Natasha Lyonne, it is a story of fighting for your life and your people in a world in which death is just a hairsbreadth behind you.

This movie is powerful, heartbreaking, and a ride that is a reminder of how inhumane we can be to our fellow human beings. The filmmakers do not shy away from how violent and brutal “life” in the concentration camp was. In doing so, they speak for both the victims and survivors, whose numbers are dwindling fast.

The only thing that throws me off is that many of the actors speak in their own accents instead of the voices that would have been natural for the characters they are playing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Judaism, Movie Review, Movies

This Week in American Women: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Karen Berg, and Madeleine Albright

Despite what history (and some men) may say, women are resourceful, intelligent, and more than capable. We just need the opportunity to prove ourselves.

Last week, America lost one of her giants in both history and politics. Madeleine Albright passed away at the age of 84. Appointed to the role of Secretary of State by former President Bill Clinton in 1997, she was the first woman to hold that position. Born to Holocaust survivors who fled Soviet-era Czechoslovakia in 1949, she did not learn that her family was Jewish until she was in her golden years. She will be remembered not just for the crack she left in the glass ceiling, but for her fight for peace and understanding between the nations.

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L

For the last week or so, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been grilled by members of Congress in regards to her potentially taking over the seat of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires at the end of this term. Judge Jackson is more than qualified for the position. To say that some members of the Republican Party have been outrageous in their conduct towards her is an understatement. Instead of asking genuine questions about her work experience, they are once more appealing to their base by picking at literal straws.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the subject of abortion has come up again in the cruelest of manners. Standing up for women and other possibly pregnant persons is State Senator Karen Berg. As the only female and the only doctor on the committee, she pointed out how ridiculous and dangerous (starts at 40:51) the limits on abortion are.

It’s time that we listen not just to these women, but to all women. We have voices, we have opinions, and it’s about dam time we are given our due.

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Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History Book Review

It is easy to denounce comic books or graphic novels as a form of childish entertainment or stories that are needlessly sexual or violent. But they can be a way to reach an audience who does not read traditional literature.

Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, was published back in 1986. Written by Art Spiegelman, it is his parent’s story of survival during the Holocaust told in graphic novel form. Both the victims and perpetrators are represented by animals. The Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats. The narrative is as follows: The protagonist goes to visit his father. Their relationship, up to this point, has not been easy. The conversation turns to his parent’s experience during the war. Over the course of the book, his father tells his story. It starts off as an ordinary life, goes through tribulations that would break many, and ends with hope.

After reading this book, I now understand why some people want to ban it. Unlike other books on this subject, it is brutal in a way that words alone cannot convey. The images force the reader to confront the truth of this time in history and the savagery that was forced upon both the living and the dead.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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The Escape Artist Book Review

It would be easy to wish, that as adults, the experience of our childhood have no effect on us. But the truth is that as much as we have grown up, who were and what we went through when we were young is always with us.

Growing up, writer Helen Fremont knew two certainties. The first was that she knew that her parents lived through and survived World War II, but refused to share the details with their children. The second was that what happened in their house stayed in their house.

Her new memoir, The Escape Artist, was published last year. Her story is that of long held secrets (her parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland), mental illness, and the heart breaking discovery that her father wrote her out of his will. Add in the questioning of sexual identity and you have a messy youth that has the power, if allowed, to destroy the chance of having a productive and happy adulthood.

I loved this book. Her story has all of the complications that life throws at us. It was at times, painful to read. I kept wishing that I could have given her the innocence and happiness that I knew when I was a girl. I’ve read more than a few memoirs over the past few years. This book is one of the best.

Do I recommend it? Yes

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My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor Book Review

The ability to survive a war is due to a combination of both luck and timing.

In 2020, Jewish Holocaust survivor and resistance fighter Selma van de Perre published her memoir. It is entitled My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor. The third of four children, van de Perre’s live was relatively normal until World War II started. In her late teens at the time, fate determined that it was not her time to be rounded up by the Nazis. After her father was summoned to a work camp and her mother and little sister were in hiding before found and sent to Auschwitz, Selma died her hair blonde, lived under an assumed name, and joined the resistance. It seemed that luck was on her side. That is, until 1944 when she was captured and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her Jewish identity remained a secret until after the war, when she finally able to reveal her true self safely.

I wanted to like this book. If I am to be completely honest, it was an infodump. In writing terms, an infodump is where the writer(s) provide the reader with a lot of information without emotion or insight into what the characters are thinking or feeling. Now granted, this is a memoir and not a fiction book. What I was missing was the quickening of my pulse and the uncertainty of the dangerous situations she put herself into.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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18 Voices: A Liberation Day Reading of Young Writers’ Diaries from the Holocaust

Yesterday was International Holocaust Memorial Day. Looking back on this time in history from a 2021 perspective, what hurts the most is the loss of 1.5 million young people who were killed simply because of their faith. They had their who lives in front of them. But because they were Jewish, they were seen as worthless.

Last night, 18 Voices: A Liberation Day Reading of Young Writers’ Diaries from the Holocaust was released on YouTube. The readings are done by a group of actors and media personalities. It is utterly heartbreaking to hear these voices, some who survived and some who didn’t.

May their memory be a blessing. Z”l.

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A Fifty Year Silence Book Review

Miranda Richmond Mouillot is the granddaughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors. But her grandparents story of survival is not the usual story.

In her new book, A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France, the author tells her grandparent’s story in a narrative that is part fiction and part biography. Her maternal grandparents, Armand and Anna fell in love and married during World War II. While the families and the friends they left behind were slaughtered, Armand and Anna were living in a refugee camp in Switzerland. But the marriage would not last. After the war, Anna would leave Armand and take their children to America. The only connection they would have fifty years later was their granddaughter.

There are thousands of Holocaust stories. Each is more heart breaking than the last. But what makes this particular story unique is not the traditional story of the Holocaust, but of this couple and the journey that their granddaughter takes two generations later to find out what really happened in her family.

I recommend it.

 

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