Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Books And Films To Clue You Up On The Holocaust

The Debrief: There is so much to learn about the Holocaust, but to learn just a bit about what happened and why it’s important, here are some starting points, courtesy of Team Debrief

Today marks 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most deadly concentration camps that killed millions of people – Jews, LGBT people, gypsies, political dissidents and disabled people – during the Holocaust. The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘keep the memory alive’, with the idea being that as long as we remember, we’ll remember that nothing like this should ever happen again. It's especially pertinent at a time when far-right parties are rising across Europe, and our own attitude to outsiders is becoming more conservative.

There is so much to learn about the Holocaust, but to learn just a bit about what happened and why it’s important, here are some starting points Team Debrief recommends:

Read Charlotte Gray

Inbetween the main story of love, Sebastian Faulks weaves a very detailed, simple yet ghastly description of the concentration camps.

Visit the Holocaust Memorial museum in Berlin

You know all those Facebook photos of people gleefully smiling outside those big square grey towers? We’ll almost forgive them for doing their selfies at a Holocaust Memorial, because it gets people into talking and knowing about it. Beneath the monuments is a harrowing and important exhibition about the Jews killed in the Holocaust. If you’re going to Berlin anyway, it really is worth a visit. Nearby, there are gardens and monuments to the LGBT people and Romany Gypsies who were killed.

Watch The Pianist

Did you know that Adrien Brody was only 29 when he won an Oscar for his role as real-life Jewish pianist Władysław Szpilman, who found himself caught in the horror of the Warsaw ghetto. Amazing performances and an incredible story make this totally worth the watch. 

Giggle along to Inglourious Basterds

It’s hardly factually correct, but Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s revenge story version of the Holocaust, has perhaps one of the most nerve-wrackingly fearful scenes about the Holocaust we’ve encountered, as well as comedy and retribution that we sort of wish had happened in real life.

Read The Devil’s Arithmetic

‘Hannah hates Passover and everything about her Jewishness, but one evening, by way of some sort of magic, she is transported back in time to a concentration camp. Once she’s there she realises how much suffering her fellow Jews went through, and, without giving anything away, things will never be the same again.’ says Jess, who also points out that ‘there's a film of it with Kirsten Dunst in it, too’.

Watch Schindler’s List

You might be used to seeing Ralph Fiennes as a jolly sort in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but he’s capable of so much meanness, when he plays an SS officer in the film based on a very true story of Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), the Nazi party member who went against type and saved 1,200 people destined for concentration camps by employing them in his munitions and enamelware factories.

Go see Suite Francais at the cinema

Michelle Williams stars in the adaptation of this WWII book this spring. Though it seems to be a love story about a beautiful French widow who falls in love with a German soldier, there’s much more beneath the surface. Written by Irène Némirovsky, a French Jew who was murdered at Auschwitz in 1942, it was the second of five intended books about the war, some of which weren’t meant to be as peaceful as this one.

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Tags: Film, books