In part one of this recommended reads post, Dr. Frank Felsenstein reviews books he considered for two holocaust-themed courses he taught, discussing which titles proved to be the most enriching and inspiring, and which titles might have missed the mark.
Remembering the Holocaust
During the spring semester of 2014, I taught two classes – ENG 402/2 and HONORS 390B – on the theme of “Remembering the Holocaust.” This was probably the fifth or sixth time that I have taught this class, and, because of the nature of the subject matter and the emotional impact, it is a class that I would only elect to teach at most every two years or, shall we say, eighteen month at the shortest.
Krystyna Chiger’s The Girl in the Green Sweater
Several texts appeared on my syllabus for the first time this spring, and the last one we read and discussed in class, Krystyna Chiger’s The Girl in the Green Sweater, a memoir published as recently as 2011, greatly appealed to the students in both groups. Chiger is the last living survivor of a small group of Jews, including her parents and younger brother, who hid from the Nazis for over a year in the sewers of Lvov (Lemberg), now part of Ukraine. Their survival was made possible by the courage of a gentile sewer worker, Pan [Mr.] Leopold Socha, who smuggled food and other necessities to them. Pan Socha had been a petty thief, and, on paper, would not have seemed the kind of person who would be willing to challenge the authorities by saving the lives of Jews. Had he been caught – and several times he nearly was – the punishment would have been instant death.
Agnieska Holland’s, In Darkness
The Polish film maker, Agnieska Holland, made a remarkable film, called In Darkness (2011), which tells the same remarkable story. Curiously, she did not know that Krystyna was still alive when she made the film, and the two met shortly after. A copy of the film, which has as additional material the wonderful moment of meeting between the two women, is in Bracken, and it’s well worth watching. It may also draw you to the book. Continue reading