There are lots of first-hand accounts of the events of the Holocaust and fictionalised stories told around it to try and understand how and why it happened, and to make sure it is never forgotten. If you want to learn more about the Holocaust, try our recommended resources below to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Film – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is 2008 historical drama film set in the concentration camps of Germany during the Second World War. The story is told from the perspectives of two 8 year old boys, one of whom is a Jewish inmate of the camp and the other is the son of a Nazi commandant.
Bruno, the son of a Nazi commandant, is forced to move home with his family to another part of Germany due to his Fathers promotion. His Father forbids him to play in the back garden, so Bruno, desperate to make friends, is forced to stay inside and watch as his sister Gretal becomes increasingly obsessed with the Third Reich. Bruno, who is too young to fully understand the ins and outs of the politics fuelling the War, eventually has enough and ventures out into the back garden where he stumbles upon a Concentration Camp. He meets a young boy through the fence called Shmuel, who along with all the other inmates wears striped prisoners clothes, which Bruno thinks are pyjamas. Bruno eventually learns that Shmuel is a Jew and that he and his family have been imprisoned behind the fence so Bruno brings him food and games every day.
What follows is an emotional, heart wrenching story of the deep loving friendship of two boys who have no understanding of why they are supposed to be enemies. Their naivety and pureness of heart allows their friendship to grow despite the opposing forces pulling them apart. It’s not until Bruno takes a serious risk to help Shmuel find his missing Father that the Nazi family is put to the test and it becomes clear that nothing is going to come in the way of Shmuel and Bruno being friends.
A beautiful film which takes you to the heart of Jewish concentration camps and exposes the horrifying truths within.
Have some tissues at hand, it’s not an easy watch!
Find The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in the BOOK ZONE at 791.43.
Book – The Diary of Anne Frank
The Diary of Anne Frank (also known as The Diary of a Young Girl) is a first-hand true account of a Jewish family’s struggle to survive in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Anne Frank was given a diary for her thirteenth birthday and less than a month later, Anne and her family were forced to hide in a few small rooms of an office building, now known as the Secret Annexe. They lived there for two years with another family called the van Pels, fearing every day that they would be found by the Nazis and arrested.
Anne’s diary is especially touching because the way she writes is so recognisable as a teenager’s diary, but the shadow of the Nazi persecutions loom over her witty and heartfelt entries. In most entries, she tells funny stories about her family and the people they are in hiding with, talk about her crush on Peter van Pels and treats the Secret Annexe as a kind of adventure. Then, suddenly, she will recount how Jewish families she knows are being taken away to concentration camps, and the chilling stories she has heard about what happens there, stories we now know were true.
The Diary ends tragically as Anne and her family are betrayed and found by the Nazis. Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen camp of typhus, aged 15, but her Diary was published by her father Otto Frank, and the bravery and kindness in her words has inspired people to stand up to intolerance and prejudice ever since.
Find The Diary of Anne Frank in the BOOK ZONE at 940.5316.
Visit the exhibition at the Forum, ‘Anne Frank and Family’, with photos taken by Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank: http://www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/events/anne-frank-and-family
Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s step-sister, gave a talk at the launch of the Forum exhibition on why we must never forget the Holocaust: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/video_that_anybody_survived_auschwitz_is_a_miracle_anne_frank_s_step_sister_on_why_we_must_never_forget_the_holocaust_1_3231975
The official website for Holocaust Memorial Day has a theme of journeys this year: http://journeys.hmd.org.uk/
The BBC website has a collection of resources from programs over the years that have focused on the Holocaust: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/holocaust/
The Secret Annexe in Amsterdam where the Franks hid has been turned into a museum. Their website has lots of useful information about Anne and her family, including the opportunity to explore the Secret Annexe rooms online: http://www.annefrank.org/en/