On the last annual Holocaust memorial day, my friend jokingly suggested that I was actually keenly awaiting this day the whole year round, as on that particular day I finally blend into the crowd with my talking about Holocaust related issues, as opposed to any other day of the year, when people are sometimes caught off guard with my expressing my opinions.
I am not sure why a thirty year old, third generation Holocaust survivor would be so talkative or influenced by it, but for the last couple of years, I just am.
I have also noted my interest has shifted to a new phase of knowledge seeking: if phase one was watching black and white ‘evidence’ films until about the age of twenty, and phase two was acknowledging I know what happened and rejecting any more ‘evidence’, it seems that this phase three I am in is all about watching what I call ‘second generation’ films, that do not deal directly with what had happened, but with related issues.
One such film is ‘Forgiving Dr. Mengele‘ (2005) which I just finished watching. It is a documentary film that tells the story of Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor, who was a victim of Mengele’s infamous twin experiments, and in an act many survivors cannot understand, chose to offer her forgiveness to the SS doctor and all other Nazis. It is an insightful movie that tells a survivor story that is different from every other one I have heard, in that that it challenges the very nature of hating your haters, a tradition deeply routed, in my opinion, in the Israeli upbringing.
“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” — Unknown
Another ‘second generation’ film I have seen this year is ‘Paper Clips‘ (2004), a documentary about a Tennessee Middle School who ran an experiment to try and grasp the concept of six million Holocaust victims by trying to collect six million paper clips, one for each of the Jews who had perished. It is an inspiring film that depicts the teaching of diversity and acceptance in a small homogenous community.
A third ‘second generation’ film I have watched this year (seems my insinuating friend was right) is ‘Freedom Writers‘ (2007), a dramatization of a real story about a teacher of urban underprivileged students who tries to let her students write down the survival stories of their undeclared war on the streets, trying to open their eyes to the experiences of those suffering intolerance throughout the world, trying to educated the kids from the ghettos of California about the kids from the ghettos of Europe.