Yesterday, my daughter and her classmates were encouraged to wear something pink to school to mark the International Day of Pink. Each year, this is the day when we all celebrate diversity and say no to all forms of bullying. It’s especially important, since our world seems to have turned into a ticking time bomb. It is once again filled with much hysteria, intolerance, and plain hatred. We, humans, have been down that road before.
Today, the world commemorates Yom Hashoah (the Holocaust Remembrance Day). Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 was the beginning of the planned persecution that culminated in the policy of systematic extermination of over six million Jews, with 17 million victims overall. Yet before the “Final Solution”, persecution in Nazi Germany was implemented in stages. And bullying of Jewish children at schools was certainly part of it.
So, how do you explain to a child what the Holocaust was? When do you begin, and what do you begin with—Kristallnacht, pogroms, gas vans and later gas chambers, death squads? Frankly, I am not sure. Yet I know that the truth must be told and retold! Lest the future generations forget.
Last year, I came across a book by Philip Steele, The Holocaust: The Origins, Events, and Remarkable Tales of Survival, which deals with this difficult subject very well. I bought it, even though my kids are not old enough to get acquainted with this topic. This large-format book published by Scholastic in 2016 is recommended for Grades 6–8. It features numerous “full-color illustrations, historical photographs, and maps”, as well as a glossary. And, what is very important, it presents the subject “in a sensitive and accessible way for a young audience”.
In other words, there are no horrific photos of committed atrocities. But among the photos that you, as a parent, may want to screen first are the photos of Nazi propaganda posters, ghetto streets, cattle trucks, Dachau and Auschwitz gates, emaciated prisoners wearing striped uniforms… Still, the author succeeds in masterfully presenting the horrors of the Holocaust, without going overboard. And books like The Holocaust attempt to teach us about the past for the sake of preserving the future.