Tag Archives: The Nazis

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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My Best Friend Anne Frank Review

Outside of your family, no one knows you like your best friend. It is a connection that can hopefully withstand whatever life throws at it.

The new Netflix movie, My Best Friend Anne Frank, premiered last year. It tells the story of Hannah “Hanneli” Goslar (Josephine Arendsen), who was best friends with Anne Frank (Aiko Beemsterboer) before the Nazis tore their world apart. The film flashes back between two different time periods. The first is the semi-carefree normal teenage girl experience that we all can relate to.

The second is a few years later, in Bergen-Belsen. Up to this point, Hannah, her father, and her baby sister have received “special treatment” due to having passports to pre-Independence Day Israel (known then as Palestine). When she hears that Anne is alive and in the camp, Hannah has to make a choice. She can either do nothing or try to help Anne, knowing that she could possibly be killed in the process.

We all know Anne’s story. This is an angle that adds to her humanity and universality. It also points out (which is unfortunately still necessary), that the Jews were top on the list for extermination and reminds the viewer that Anne was killed because of the faith she was born into.

The problem is that the drama is a little slow. I understand the reason for the pace, but it could have been picked up a little. By the time we get to the scene in which Anne and Hannah are reunited, I did not feel what I expected to feel.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

My Best Friend Anne Frank is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Whoopi Goldberg: Close, But No Cigar

The good thing about the Holocaust being common knowledge is that we know the facts. The problem is that even with what is known, some people still prefer to fudge history to fit their own needs.

Yesterday, The View host Whoopi Goldberg made some rather uneducated comments about Maus being pulled from library shelves.

Goldberg responded: “If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it because the Holocaust isn’t about race.” She added that the Holocaust, which saw an estimated 6 million Jews and 5 million others killed as a result of the Nazis’ racist ideology, was about “man’s inhumanity to man” and said it involved “two White groups of people.”

This morning, she apologized.

In a general sense, Goldberg (who is not Jewish and was given the name of Caryn Elaine Johnson at birth) is right. The Nazis were hyperfocused on race. But they also have one very specific goal: make Europe (and the world by extension), Judenrein. The Jews were a monolith that had to be exterminated. While we cannot ignore that other groups (Roma, LGBTQ, disabled, etc) were on the list, they were not the priority.

As much as I admire Goldberg for her work and her outspokenness on certain subjects, this is a topic in which she knows less than she thinks she does. Had she done some basic research before opening her mouth, this little gaffe may never have happened.

P.S. If anyone wants to do some digging on this subject, I highly recommend Ben M. Freeman‘s book, Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People. It is nothing short of eye-opening. If you only read one section, I recommend the interviews with six Jews of various backgrounds. Not all of them are Ashkenazi (from Eastern Europe).

P.P.S Since publishing the initial post, Goldberg was suspended for two weeks. There have been calls in the press for her to be fired. I personally think that firing is not necessary in this case. If she was an out-and-out racist, then firing would be appropriate. But she is ignorant. Ignorance can hopefully be fixed. Believing the lies when you know better is another thing entirely.

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Best Books of 2021

  1. The Four Winds: Kristen Hannah has done it again. Her Cinderella-esque tale of a woman who resecues herself from a live of drugery, poverty, and low self esteem is one to be read again and again.
  2. Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People: Ben M. Freeman‘s treatise on Jews, and Jewish history is a must read for anyone who for once and for all wants to defeat antisemitism and all forms of hate.
  3. Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol: Mallory O’Meara‘s non fiction book explores how inspite of a certain image, women have been creating and drinking all forms of alcohol for centuries.
  4. I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trumps Catastrophic Final Year: The subject of you know who will be on the lips of writers and political historians for years to come. Authors Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker examine how the former President believed that he did not need help in running the country.
  5. Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood: Writer and podcaster Mark Oppenheimer tells the story of how a single neighborhood was affected by the murders of eleven Jewish residents in 2018.
  6. Peril: Bob Woodward and Robert Costa take a deep dive into how close the American democracy got close to destruction.
  7. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh: This JAFF by Molly Greeley gives the spotlight to Anne de Bourgh, a minor Pride and Prejudice character who has yet to be fully seen or appreciated.
  8. Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Become Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assasins-and WWII Heroes: This fascinating and powerful tale of three young ladies who led an underground war against the Nazis during World War II.
  9. Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers: Written by the Bonnet at Dawn podcast hosts, this book examines the life and works of the women writers we have loved and respected for generations.
  10. The Matzah Ball: A Novel: Jean Meltzer’s Chanukah themed rom-com about two people who are secretly in love, but cannot speak the words due to the current and past trauma.

Here’s to the books we loved in 2021 and the books we will love in 2022.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mental Health, National News, Podcast, Politics, Pride and Prejudice

A Nazi Is Running For Congress In America

America is supposed to be a country where people of every faith, creed and color live in harmony with one another. The key word in this sentence is supposed.

Arthur Jones is running for Senate in Illinois. While he refers to himself as a “white racialist”, anyone else would refer to him as a Nazi.

He is an open anti-Semite, denies the existence of the Holocaust, and has stated in the past that he is of the opinion that African-Americans do not have the same intellectual capacity as Caucasian-Americans.

I’m appalled and offended by the words that are coming out of the mouth of this man. As an American and a human being, I am offended. While only time will tell, I can only hope and pray that the voters in Illinois do what is right and do not vote for Mr. Jones to become their Senator.

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Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America Book Review

In the 1930’s, Leon Lewis appeared to be just another unassuming lawyer from Los Angeles. But in reality, he was the head of a spy ring whose goal was to stop the secret Nazi invasion of America and protect the lives of the city’s Jewish population.

His story unfolds in the non fiction book, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, written by Steven J. Ross. Los Angeles was a target not only because it was home base of the entertainment industry, but also for the military sites that were close by. While the law enforcement chose to focus their attention elsewhere, Mr. Lewis and his ring of spies understood how important it was to uncover the truth before it was too late.

 

While the book is a little slow, it is worth reading until the end. Though the book is non fiction, Mr. Ross found a way to imbue the narrative with tension and danger. It reads like a fictional spy thriller, even with the documented historical facts.

I recommend it.

 

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My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner – A German against the Third Reich Book Review

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein

It is often easier to go along with the crowd rather than make a stand against what you believe is wrong. The question is, when the time comes to make that stand, do you silently go along with the crowd or are you brave enough to make that stand?

In 1930’s Germany, Friedrich Kellner was an ordinary man. Married with one child, he was a mid level government official in a small town. He also vehemently disagreed with everything The Nazis were doing in Germany. While the war raged on and a majority of the German people were easily hypnotized by the Nazis, Mr. Kellner kept a secret diary full of personal insights and news clipping, revealing his disgust and anger for everything that was going 0n around him. His diary and his experience during the war will soon be told in a new memoir, My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner – A German against the Third Reich.

Based on the diary found by Robert Scott Kellner, Mr. Kellner’s American grandson, the book is a true testament about how humanity and compassion can still exist, even when dictators rule and citizens are easily swayed to mindlessly follow what government officials are saying and doing. The publishing of the book is also quite timely, especially considering who occupies the Oval Office.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Uprising (2001)

In the darkness of The Holocaust, there are few lights that still stand out against that darkness. One of the brightest is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The 2001 television movie, Uprising, is the story of the fight by the ghetto’s inhabitants against their oppressors. Starring David Schwimmer, Hank Azaria and Leelee Sobieski, the narrative tells the story of how Jews, crammed into the old slum of Warsaw, fought back against the Nazis for a month in 1943. 

 

I think that this movie is important to watch. It’s important because not only does it dispel the myth that Europe’s Jews were mere lambs to the Nazi slaughter, it also is the story of how a small band of people can fight against tyranny, prejudice and murder.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Darkest Hour Movie Review

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest politicians and orators of the 20th century. He will go down in history as one of the men who saved Europe, democracy and Western civilization from the Nazis.

The new movie, Darkest Hour, starts off as World War II is beginning to engulf Europe. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is being forced to resign as Prime Minister due to his inability to lead the country during wartime become obvious. His chosen successor is Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), whose reputation up to this point is not flawless. Churchill’s wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) convinces her husband to take the position. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is hired as Churchill’s personal secretary. He is not the easiest man to work for.

Churchill has a choice to make. There is the possibility of making a deal with Germany and stopping the war in its tracks. Or, they could fight, knowing full well that lives will be lost in the process.

This movie is pure Oscar bait. Oldman’s performance is  truly exceptional. He is so good that I thought that at times, I was watching a documentary about Winston Churchill rather than watching a film with a fictional narrative and actor Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. I also appreciated that instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal, he is shown as a flawed human being who is suddenly thrust into a job that requires a decision that will forever change not just the fate of Europe, but the whole world.

I absolutely recommend it.

Darkest Hour is in theaters. 

 

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Kristallnacht

Yesterday, November 9th and today, November 10th is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Translated into “Night Of The Broken Glass” Jewish owned businesses, buildings,homes and synagogues were destroyed.  Innocent Jewish civilians were murdered or arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps.

 

Kristallnacht was the beginning of the Holocaust. By the time World War II ended 7 years later, six million Jews were murdered, along with five million others who were deemed as “subhuman” by the Nazis and their supporters.

Unfortunately, this sentiment is not a new one, especially in America today. We have a President who is silently condoning the views and actions of the far right and the hate groups who in the past, have been forced into the shadows of our culture. If he had his way, immigrants, especially immigrants of color would be deported. Transgender troops who put the lives on the line for this country would be forced out of the military. The Press, as we know it to be, would be destroyed except for a few television channels and publications who mindlessly agree with him.  It is a figurative Reichstag fire that has the potential to destroy our democracy and everything that we as Americans hold dear.

If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. While Donald Trump is not a mirror of Hitler, there are signs and red flags that cannot be ignored. If we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.

 

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