Scrapbookpages Blog

December 15, 2010

It’s so fun to say Bergen-Belsen — another Holocaust game

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:18 am

The title of my blog post today comes from what a young man named Jon said while playing a new board game, which was designed by Brenda Braithwaite.  You can read the full story on The Daily Beast here.

The new game, which is based on the  Holocaust, is called “Train” and it involves putting pawns (representing people) into trains; the player does not know what the destination of the train will be until he draws a “Terminus” card with the name of the concentration camp at which the people have arrived. According to the Daily Beast article, when a player named Helen drew her first Terminus card, she showed it to Jon, who said, “Bergen-Belsen, nice! It’s so fun to say.”   

Actually, the term “Bergen-Belsen” does have a nice musical sound to it, if you say it correctly. In my German class, the teacher tries to get the students to speak German with the proper rhythm.  This is something you can’t learn from a book; you have to hear German as it is spoken by a native German speaker.

A few years ago, when I went to visit the former camp, now called Bergen-Belsen, I told the bus driver that I wanted to get off at “Bergen-Belsen.”   To which, he very politely replied: “Which one, Bergen or Belsen?” There are two separate towns, Bergen and Belsen; the former  concentration camp, which is now a Memorial Site, was located near the village named Belsen. I’m not positive about this, but I think that the camp was just called “Belsen” when it was in operation.

The name of the “Terminus” in the new Holocaust game should be changed to “Belsen.”  Players should not be having “fun” as they say the name of a camp, where 13,000 people died — and that was AFTER Heinrich Himmler turned the camp over to the British army because there was a typhus epidemic that was out of control there.  The whole camp had to be burned down to stop the epidemic. All together, there were over 35,000 people who died of typhus, in only two months, at “Bergen-Belsen.”

But I digress.  The most interesting thing that I gleaned from the Daily Beast article is this quote:

Brathwaite explains. “It’s important that players are making the decisions and talking about the decisions, because I want them to feel complicity. I want them to feel some responsibility.”

Young people today may not realize that the accusation of “complicity” in the “war crimes” of World War II was an important new concept invented by the Allies.  All the Germans were guilty because they did nothing to stop the Holocaust.  Now this new game will extend that guilt to everyone in America.  Everyone who plays this game will be able to feel as guilty as Adolf Eichmann, the man who was in charge of the trains that transported the Jews to the camps.

The American people actually were “complicit” in the Holocaust! After all, what did Americans do to prevent the Holocaust?  We didn’t bomb the tracks leading to Auschwitz.  We didn’t allow the passengers on the ship “Saint Louis” to get off here.  We didn’t allow all the Jews in Europe to come to America before the war started.  We didn’t send any DDT and vaccine to the camps to stop the typhus epidemics.  So everyone in America shares the guilt for the Holocaust.

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