Never Again: Five Books to Remember the HolocaustDecember 30, 2014

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which is held on January 27, remembers those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. A few decades after the end of World War II, Holocaust literature was taught in universities. Those who assumed that this would be a recollection of those who survived the war were mistaken. It would be one aspect of the genre.

Must these works be empathized? This would surprised some, but time could changed a person's perspective. It also made some forget about what happened in the past. This would pose a dilemma, as the theme of the campaign would be "Never forget". But we must learned to forgive and forget.

The five books (presented here) are not the most popular choices. But they have different points of view. Here they are:

Aviya's Summer (1985) by Gila Almagor. Gila Almagor was an award-winning actress in her native Israel. But she had a story to tell. She grew up under the most difficult circumstances; her mother gradually lost her sanity due to the Holocaust. The young girl grew up too soon.

The Book Thief (2005) by Markus Zusak. The title would refer to a young Jewish girl, unable to read and write. The books she found in the rubble would provide her hope. But her story was narrated by the Grim Reaper, who was delighted to note that World War II was his busiest moment. It would be up to the readers to find out if her story ended on a sad note.

Jacob the Liar (1969) by Jurek Becker. Jacob Heym heard the news about the Allied forces about to liberate Łódź, Poland. It might have been untrue, but he told it to Mischa, his partner and closest friend (in the ghetto). The news spread like wild fire. Jacob must tell lies in able to make it more true. Given their circumstances, Jacob could have been forgiven. But not everyone could understand the amoral set-up. It would be up to readers.

Schindler's List (1982) by Thomas Keneally. If not for Steven Spielberg, Oskar Schindler's story might not be known. He was a Nazi Party member who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews from concentration camps. An unlikely hero, which Keneally, a native of Sydney, deconstructed.

Sophie's Choice (1979) by William Styron. Stingo, a young novelist, wouldn't forget his summer in New York. He met Nathan Landau and Sophie Zawistowska, who have a complicated relationship. Nathan was abusive to Sophie. She didn't mind, but only due to her past. Stingo wasn't perceptive enough, due to his compassion towards Sophie. The lines were blurred when Stingo realised he was falling for Sophie. She was unable to assess her situation, as memories of the Holocaust haunted her.

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