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Holocaust Remembrance Day approaching


UN member states observe Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a time to call to mind not only that dark chapter from our world’s history but also to be mindful of how that history does (or doesn’t) inform our lives and actions today. The UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day always thematically approaches the topic, and this year’s theme is “ordinary people,” and it asks us to consider what it means that acts of heroism and barbarity were carried out by people like you and me. The first step in this reflection is knowledge and the Crawfordsville District Public Library offers a vast trove of resources to that end.

On the DVD front, consider PBS Frontline documentary Memory of the Camps, (DVD 940.53 Mem) which remains a chilling, visually rich place to start for a substantive overview. More locally, consider viewing Eva: A-7063 (DVD 940.53 Eva), a recent documentary about Hoosier Holocaust survivor, Eva Kor, and her harrowing story not only of survival in Auschwitz but her fight to have that 20th century horror more widely known.

Documentaries may not be your cup of tea, but there is no shortage of dramas including Schindler’s List (DVD Fic Sch), which won an Academy Award for Best Picture along with many other accolades, as well as The Zookeeper’s Wife (DVD Fic Zoo), The Pianist (DVD Fic Pia), and the touching Italian film Life is Beautiful (DVD Fic Lif).

It’s hard to even attempt to scratch the surface of books, but I’ll offer just a few titles to consider that span focus and genre. Night by Elie Wiesel (921 Wiesel, E.) is a short, literary memoir utterly evocative of the emotional turmoil of one young man’s experience, his loss of faith, and his guilt at having survived. National Book Award winner Sophie’s Choice by William Styron (FIC Sty), not without controversy, chooses to focus on a Christian survivor of the Holocaust and frames the event as a universal assault against humanity. Lastly, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (150.1957 Fra) is a poignant memoir not only about the facts of his experience, but it’s also an amazing window into the psychology of survival in the midst of a world designed for despair.

For YA readers (but not exclusively for them), perhaps pick up the graphic novel Maus (GN 940.5318; the library has it in Spanish, too!), which is currently the only graphic novel to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Broken Strings (j Fic Wal) by Eric Walters weaves music and family history with trauma, old and new, and racial prejudice, old and new, in an arresting tale that is sensitive and moving. For similar themes geared toward a bit younger crowd, parents might consider the illustrated title The Harmonica (j Fic Joh).

These suggestions are but a fraction of the offerings here at the library on the topic of the Holocaust. In light of the theme, “ordinary people” mentioned at the start, it behooves us to strive to keep alive the memory of what happened not only to honor the Jewish people and others who lost their lives but also to be mindful of what made individuals who, despite all the cultural forces around them propelling them toward hate, stood athwart those iniquitous currents. May we do likewise.


Paul Utterback is a library assistant in the Reference & Local History Department at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.


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