This is Reading List #9, a selection of recent Holocaust-related news stories and links from around the internet.
Something a little different first: Kino Klassika Foundation is presenting a short season of Russian films about World War 2, available for a limited time online in lieu of the intended London screenings. Alexei German’s 1971 film Trial on the Road screened online last week, and this week, UK readers can catch the 2012 film In the Fog, a drama highlighting experiences in wartime Belarus. It can be viewed until May 23rd. Also showing, from Tuesday 19th May, is Yuri Norstein’s Tale of Tales, an acclaimed animated film produced in 1979.
Thousands of people in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, have taken to the streets to protest against the holding of a Mass commemorating Nazi collaborators (AP via Times of Israel). The event had been due to take place in Austria, but restrictions intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19 saw its relocation. Although some have tried to rehabilitate the reputations of Croatian nationalists who sided with the Nazis, the event has sparked particular outrage in Sarajevo because of the region’s history and particular association with genocidal violence.
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An Alaskan politician has apologised after comparing a possible coronavirus testing policy to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust (CNN via The Mercury News). Republican state representative Ben Carpenter had compared the stickers which tested government officials would be asked to wear to arms bands emblazoned with the Star of David. He said that he had not meant to cause offence with his original comments.
The Sumter Item carries the sad news of the death of two Holocaust-survivor brothers, Alexander and Joseph Feingold, just weeks apart. Alex, 95, and Joe, 97, died in New York, of pneumonia and Covid-19 respectively. Alex was a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, while Joe, who had fled Poland as the Nazis advanced and found temporary safety fleetingly in the USSR, spent time in a Siberian labour camp. After the war, Joe returned to the Polish town of Kielce, searching for information about the fate of his family, only to be caught up in the massacre of the town’s Jewish inhabitants, which took place in the 1946. Joe was believed to be the last survivor of the Kielce massacre. Joe was also the subject of an Oscar-winning short film, Joe’s Violin.
Rolf Hochhuth, author of the controversial play The Deputy, has died at the age of 89 (DW.com). The German playwright worked on the play in his 20s, but it remained unperformed until 1963, when it gained huge notoriety. The Deputy examines the passivity of the Pope to the Holocaust, alleging that Pius XII turned a blind eye to events he might otherwise have been able to bring the world’s attention. Critics of the drama have, though, argued that the play distorts the Pope’s position on the issue in an attempt to spread responsibility to those outside Germany.
Documents uncovered at the Vatican suggest that Pope Pius XII did suppress information about the mass murder of Jews during the Second World War (Jerusalem Post). A memo written by a Vatican official at the time questioned the credibility of reports received from Nazi-occupied countries, falling back on antisemitic stereotypes labeling Jews as untrustworthy. Earlier in the year, Pope Francis approved access to long-withheld archives, though Covid-19 has prevented historians from continuing their work for the time being.
Auschwitz survivor and renowned cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch has been talking about who she previously struggled to speak about her experiences during the Second World War (AFP via Times of Israel). She survived the camp because her cello playing made her useful to the authorities; she was drafted into the Women’s Orchestra, and later recounted these experiences in her memoir Inherent the Truth. The article is also worth reading for contributions from Anita’s daughter Maya, who has studied second-generation trauma, though the article does make a few regrettable factual errors (Lasker-Wallfisch is 94, rather than the stated 95).
Inclusion of articles on this list does not necessarily indicate endorsement of opinions expressed within them.
Images in this post are used under the principle of fair use for the purposes of review, education and study, and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s). The header image is a screenshot from the film In the Fog (Russia, 2012)