Tag Archives: World War II

Man in an Orange Shirt TV Review

In 2018, we have much to be grateful for. That includes (for the most part), the open acceptance of those who are part of the LGBTQ community.

But it wasn’t so long ago that being gay not only considered to be immoral, it was also illegal.

The TV movie Man in an Orange Shirt is the story of two men fighting against their own inner nature to fit in with the rest of the world. In post World War II Britain, Michael (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Thomas (James McArdle) are very much in love. But because they are two men, their love can never be publicly accepted. Michael marries Flora (Joanna Vanderham) and lives like any heterosexual married man. But Flora finds out about Thomas and her marriage is never the same.

Years later, a much older Flora (Vanessa Redgrave) is now a widow and living with her grandson, Adam (Julian Morris). On the surface, Adam appears to be ok. But he to is fighting his own sexuality and trying to shame himself via meaningless sexual encounters with strange men. Then Steve (David Gyasi) enters his life and Adam must not only face his demons, but learn to accept who he is. While her grandson is facing down his own demons, Flora is still dealing with decades old open emotional wounds that have not healed.

I think this is one of the more interesting and thought-provoking TV movies that I have seen in a long time. It’s  addresses head on the pain that comes with hiding your true self, even if you live in a world that is tolerant of those who are different.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On The 25th Anniversary Of Schindler’s List

Oskar Schindler was a complicated man. He was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi party. He was not exactly loyal to his wife. But he was also responsible for saving the lives of 1200 Jewish prisoners during The Holocaust.

This year, the film based on his life during the war, Schindler’s List, turns 25.

If there ever was a Holocaust film, Schindler’s List is that film. Liam Neeson played the title role. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the supporting cast includes Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. Filmed in stark black and white for 99% of the film, the movie pulls no punches. It forces the audience to keep their eyes on the screen and screams out that this is what hate and prejudice leads to.

This film is hard to watch, but it is hard to watch for a reason. It is still relevant 25 years later not only because hatred, prejudice and genocide are still happening, but also because there are some who continue to deny that The Holocaust is anything but historical fact.

May this film live on for eternity, as a reminder of what human beings can do to each other and why we must find a way to accept one another, even if one is different.

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Thoughts On Last Night’s Syria Strike

Last night it was announced that US, UK and France successfully hit its targets in Syria. The airstrike was in response to the chemical attack on the citizens of Douma last weekend.

While the airstrike does it’s job in sending a message to the Syrian regime, there is a component missing that is ignored at least by the current administration: the Syrian refugees who are being prevented from entering the United States. So far this year, only 11 Syrian refugees have been allowed to enter the country.

Since you know who took office last year, the parallels to Nazi Germany have been spoken of frequently.

In May of 1930, the St. Louis sailed from Hamburg to Havana. Most of the passengers were Jews, looking for sanctuary from the destruction and prejudice they were experiencing in Europe.

To make a long story short, the ship was stuck in limbo. Only a handful of the passengers were allowed to disembark in Cuba. America refused to open her doors to those who were still on board. As a result, the ship has to return to Europe. While some of the allied countries took a few passengers, the rest were sent back to Germany. 254 of the passengers were killed in the Holocaust.

While I cannot disagree that we need to protect our borders, we need to open our country up to those who are suffering the most. Military strikes send a message, but so does opening the door and welcoming a people who have lost nearly everything.

But then again, this administration, like the one that turned away the St. Louis seems not to care.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Movie Trailer

The translation from the page to the silver screen is often a dicey one. Especially for a beloved book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer was originally published in 2009. In 1946, Juliet Ashton is a writer looking for next subject. She received a letter from a man living on the island of Guernsey, whose residents survived German occupation during World War II.

Recently, the trailer for the film adaptation was released.

While I could not get through the book, the movie looks very interesting. One of the appealing aspects of the movie (for me at least) is a mini-Downton Abbey reunion. Lily James, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode and Jessica Brown Findlay are all part of the cast. While the film will not hit US theaters until later in the year, I can only hope that the film delivers on the promises in the trailer.

 

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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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Thoughts On Poland’s New Holocaust Law

Of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 3 million of them were Polish.

Recently, Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda announced that he would sign the new law that makes it illegal to blame the country from the loss of life and destruction caused by Nazi Germany during World War II. It goes without saying that the law acquits the Polish nation of any guilt that they are part of the reasons that 3 million Polish Jews and 1.9 Poles who were not Jewish were murdered.

I am a Jewish woman of Eastern European descent. Poland is in my blood and my bones. My mother’s maternal grandparent’s emigrated from Poland during the early part of the 20th century. They left family behind who were murdered simply because they were Jewish.

It’s an irrefutable fact that Poland suffered under the Nazi invasion. It is also an irrefutable fact that many non-Jewish Poles tried to help their Jewish neighbors, knowing full well that they were putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line. However, there were also many Poles who either silently supported the Nazis by saying nothing or stepped up and did the Nazis dirty work for them.

As an American, I cannot dictate how another country’s leadership chooses to govern. However, this particular law does not feel right and feels like it spits on the graves of millions of innocents who were killed merely for being who they are.

 

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Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we remember the millions of victims were killed simply for who they were.

I count myself among the lucky ones. My family has been in this country for more than a century. My great grandparents left Europe in the early 20th century, looking for a better life for themselves and their families in America. My grandparents were born in this country, I am a third generation Jewish American. But that does not exempt me from The Holocaust. Most of the family that my great grandparents left behind were slaughtered.

In the late 1970’s, one of my mother’s uncles added his grandfather, my great-great grandfather to the list of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem.

While I will go about my business today, my heart will be breaking a little.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and a reminder of what happens when we forget that the person next to us is first and foremost just another human being.

Never again.

 

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We’ll Meet Again Review

There are two types of people we meet in our lives. One type is a blip on the radar, we don’t think twice when they are gone. The other type is the person who influence in our life is so so ingrained in our psyches that we never forget them.

On Tuesday, PBS aired their new show: We’ll Meet Again. Hosted by veteran journalist and anchor, Ann Curry, the focus of the show is to reunite the subjects with someone whom they have not seen in a very long time.  The subjects of the pilot were two adults whose childhoods were overshadowed by World War II. In California, a young girl of Japanese-American descent is forced into the internment camps with her family simply because her parents immigrated from Japan a generation before. She wants to reunite with the school friend who only saw her friend and did not see color.

A young Jewish boy is living in Shanghai, with his parents. They are refugees from Nazi Germany. He becomes close with his father’s business partner and his business partner’s wife. They have a daughter and emigrate to Australia after the war. He wants to reunite with their daughter, who was a baby at the end of the war.

If nothing else, this show speaks to the our shared humanity. It is also a reminder that friendships and emotional connections can last a lifetime, even when our lives shift and we begin to move away from the people we were once close to.

I recommend it.

We’ll Meet Again airs Tuesday Nights at 8PM on PBS. 

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The Librarian of Auschwitz Book Review

Books are more than words on a page bound together. They reflect our shared humanity.

Dita Kraus is one of the lucky Holocaust survivors to not only have survived in general, but also having survived the death camp Auschwitz. During the war, she was secretly known as the camp librarian, trying to keep learning alive when death was all the inmates knew.

Her story is chronicled in the book, The Librarian of Auschwitz,originally written in 2012 by Antonio Iturbe and translated last year into English by Lilit Thwaites.  In 1944, Dita was a fourteen year old girl. She is among the lucky ones. Not only is she still alive, but she and her parents are together.  One of the Jewish leaders of the camp asks Dita to take responsibility for a number of books that have been smuggled in. Despite the fact that if the books are discovered, she could be killed, Dita agrees to the task.

 

What I loved about this book is that the books represent a sliver of hope and humanity when there was none. Not only is the book well written, but it speaks to the idea that even in the darkest of times, hope never completely dies. We just need to hang onto it as best we can, in whatever shape we can.

I absolutely 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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