Among the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust were 1.5 million young people. This cumulative experience of the lost generation speaks to us via The Diary of Anne Frank.
In 1955, the book was turned into a play. The new 7-part podcast, Playing Anne Frank, tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the play was made and its impact on everyone (both the audience and the creators) involved. Mixing historical media with interviews of surviving cast members, it brings the drama to life and reinforces the importance of the work.
I have enjoyed listening to the first 3 episodes. For obvious reasons, both the original text and its various stage/screen incarnations are still relevant, even after all of these years. What I am appreciating is the insights of the cast and that they understood the necessity of sharing Anne’s story.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
New episodes of Playing Anne Frank are released every Tuesday.
Before the war, Magda was a kindergarten teacher. After she was transported to Auschwitz, she made the bold (or stupid, depending on your pov) to speak up for her fellow prisoners. Instead of sending her to the gas chambers, she was put in charge of the camp’s female “inhabitants”. Magda was forced to walk the daily line of keeping as many alive as she could while making sure that their captors looked the other way. By honing her intelligence and survival skills, she was able to save her life and the lives of many others.
This book is amazing. It speaks to the inner strength that allows us to live with situations that would otherwise kill us. The images from the Holocaust often show my co-religionists meekly going to their deaths. It is stories like Magda’s that prove that there was still a fight to be fought, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
It also proves once more that women can do anything.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Nazis Knew My Name: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Courage in Auschwitz is available where books are sold.
When I think of what has been happening in the past few years, I see scary signs of what could happen again. I think it goes without saying that we don’t want to make the alarm bells ring all of the time. But, given recent events (Kanye, for one), I can’t help but make connections to the recent past.
One of the things that I wish was more well-known was the persecution of the LGBTQ community. Before the war, Berlin was known for its openness to those who were not heteronormative. The ended in 1933. Thousands were murdered and many more were persecuted.
The problem is that many continue to turn a blind eye to this hatred, even those of my faith. Ben Shapiro (whom I dislike with every bone in my body), has been open about his association with the right and their hatred of everyone who is not them. What he conveniently forgets is that at the day, he is still Jewish. The antisemites would still slap a yellow star on his chest and send him to his death.
It has been said that we die twice. The first time is when shuffle off this mortal coil. The second is when we are forgotten. Many of those who were killed have died twice.
May the memories of the millions who were murdered always be a blessing. Z”l.
David took out his camera and started filming. In total, the footage lasts about 3 minutes. Little did any of them know that this mini-film would be one of the last records of the Nasielsk’s Jewish population. Most of them were murdered in the Holocaust. Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, the film follows the endeavor to not just locate the shtetl, but to put a human face on those who lived there.
One of the best aspects of the movie is that it takes the bigness of the Shoah and makes it feel like the audience is being directly spoken to. With all of the details that we know about the period, it is hard to absorb that millions were murdered because of who they were.
By bringing it down to a micro level, we see the individual lives that were lost and it allows us to (hopefully) do everything we can to make sure that it does not happen again.
Do I recommend it?
Three Minutes: A Lengthining is available for streaming on Hulu.
Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
This is an amazing book. It is a heart-pounding thriller that kept my heart in my throat. For anyone who denies that the Holocaust happened, the details provided will (hopefully) wash away those doubts. The information provided is so granular that it’s as if the reader was there.
What I really liked about it was that it represented Vrba as a full human being, warts and all. For all of his heroism during the war, his life in the post-war years was complicated and far from easy.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World is available wherever books are sold.
For the most part, the bad rap that the mafia gets is for a good reason. If what the media says is true, their activities obviously cross moral and legal borders. But what happens when their “work” helps to make the world a better place?
The only ones who are not afraid to speak up (and knock a few heads) are members of the Jewish mob. In different cities across the country, they sent the message that the Nazis and their American allies would not be tolerated.
I loved this book. It was a fun read. It came off not as a standard history book, but as a fun ride through an era that was dark and difficult. It has an Inglorious Basterds vibe and an opportunity to live (and fight) vicariously through the narrative.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America is available wherever books are sold.
P.S. I am trying to not sound alarmist, but America in 2022 is scarily becoming Germany in 1939. A recent online survey among employers revealed that 25% of hiring managers will set aside certain applicants simply because that person is Jewish.
It is easy to assume that the world is saved by Generals and Presidents. While it is true that they have a hand in restoring normalcy, we should never forget that one ordinary person can make a difference.
As I listened to the episodes that have been released, I can’t help but think that history is one more repeating itself. Around the world, democracy is slowly being replaced by other forms of government that do not respect the rights of the average citizen. The lessons are there, if we are willing to stop and listen.
Looking back on history, there are moments in which we should have seen what was coming. Instead, we looked away and in doing so, opened the door to death and destruction.
Kristallnacht is one of those moments. The 84th anniversary was this past Wednesday and Thursday.
It takes something deep and powerful inside of us to go through something like the Holocaust and still thrive. I would love to say that we all have learned from the past. But being that antisemitism is once more rearing its ugly head.
It should have been the veritable canary in the coal mine. I can’t help but wonder how many millions of lives might have been saved had the world not turned its back.
But we will never know how a war might have been prevented and an entire generation lost to hate.