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December 24, 2011

what students can learn from Michael Berenbaum’s book “A Promise to Remember: The Holocaust in the Words and Voices of its Survivors”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:26 am

I have not read Michael Berenbaum’s book A Promise to Remember, published by Boston Bulfinch Press in 2003, but a review of the book by Robert Hutcheson, a teacher in Missouri, gives some insights into what this books offers to students in Holocaust education classes.  You can read the full review here.

This quote is from Robert Hutcheson’s book review:

In “The Sonderkommando” chapter, Sam Itzkowitz (see CD) tells of his experiences and describes the death of Bess Platka, the details of which should be shared in pre-college classrooms only with care and discretion. She strangles her baby rather than letting the SS man do it, throws the corpse in his face, hits him over the head with a large beer bottle, and grabs his gun and empties the chamber into him before she meets her own death. This chapter also uses the rather famous and somewhat lurid sketches of David Olére (who painted under the name “Prisoner No. 106144”) which one should also use with great care in the classroom (I would not use most of these myself, though his later painting, “The End of Law and the Rights of Man,” 1950, at the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters House could be used with older students if a print can be obtained). The photo of clothing falling out of a warehouse door (22), however, pointedly and silently witnesses to some of the prisoners who were gassed at Auschwitz.

I have highlighted two different sentences in this single paragraph.  The story of Bess Platka is reminiscent of the story of Franceska Mann, who shot an SS man at Auschwitz.  I previously blogged about her here.  Note that Bess Platka didn’t wait for an SS man to grab her baby and kill it in some monstrous fashion.  No, she took the initiative and got revenge for all the babies whose heads had been bashed against a tree by a German soldier! I previously blogged about head bashing stories here.

The last sentence in the quote above is about the clothes found in a warehouse at Auschwitz.  The clothing “pointedly and silently witnesses to some of the prisoners who were gassed at Auschwitz.”

Clothing spilling out of a door at Auschwitz-Birkenau

How does this clothing prove that prisoners were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau?  (more…)