Why do the survivors of such a tragic event such as the Holocaust want to remember those horrifying times by writing about memories that most people would only want to forget? I will show, Weisel has talked about, and as others have written, that the victims of the holocaust wrote about their experiences not only to preserve the history of the event, but so that those who were not involved and those who did survive can understand what really happened. They wanted the people of the world to realize how viciously they were treated.
On top of wanting us to understand, they also want to understand why this happened. Why did the Lord let this happen? Why did the people of the world stand by and let such a thing happen to so many people? Today in the 90’s we cannot think of letting so many people suffer, as those seven million people did in the mid-40s. Perhaps the most recognized writer of the holocaust is Elie Wiesel. He was taken from his home and put into the concentration camps when he was still a young boy.
Wiesel once said, “I write in order to understand as much as to be understood. He was liberated in 1945 and, once he was liberated “he imposed a ten-year vow of silence upon himself before trying to describe what had happened to him and over six million other Jews. ” In a lecture on the dimensions of the holocaust Wiesel said, “”The Holocaust as Literary Inspiration” is a contradiction in terms. As in everything else, Auschwitz negates all systems, destroys all doctrines. They cannot but impoverish the experience which lies beyond our reach. ” “How can one write about a situation which goes beyond its very description? How can one write a novel about the Holocaust?
How can one write about a situation and not identify with all its characters? And how can one identify with so many victims? Worse, how can one identify with the executioner? How could a victim say “I” in the place of his killer? Furthermore, how can one convince himself without feeling guilty that he may use such events for literary purposes? ” Weisel says that any survivor who has told the story of their experiences in the Holocaust cannot tell the whole story, or people will think that they are crazy. “Most novelists of this category, or most writers, seem to have followed the same pattern.
Viewing literature as a way to correct their friends, to their families, to their own childhood and to their people (Weisel 8). ” Some of the victims of the Holocaust realized how important it was to keep a record of the events of the time. “Chaim Kaplan wrote in his diary on January 16, 1942, “The whole nation is sinking in a sea of horror and cruelty. I do not know whether anyone else is recording these daily events. The conditions of life which surround us are not conducive to such literary labors. Anyone who keeps such a record endangers his life.
But it doesn’t alarm me. I sense within me the magnitude of this hour and my responsibility to it (Weisel 9). ” Another entry in Kaplan’s journal on the date of July 31, 1942, he said, “My powers are insufficient to record all that is worthy of being recorded. Most of all I am worried that I may be consuming my strength for naught. Should I too be taken, all my effort will be wasted. My utmost concern is for hiding my diary so that it will be preserved for future generations. As long as my pulse beats I shall continue y sacred task (Weisel 10).
Weisel later goes on to recall the words of Professor Simon Dubnow, “as he was led to the execution place in Riga with his community, turned to his companions and urged them, “Open your eyes and your ears. Remember every word, every gesture, every outcry, every tear. ” He was killed but his words remained. Somebody remembered these words. Eugene Heimler, a psychiatrist, a young Hungarian Jewish boy, wrote in he memoir, “There were messages I had to deliver to the living from the dead. There were things I had to do. Words I had to speak.
Moments which I had to dissect in order to show the world what I had seen and lived through. On behalf of the millions who had seen it also but could no longer speak of their dead, burned bodies, I would be the voice (11). ” A New York attorney by the name of Menachem Rosensaft once said, “the Holocaust was a watershed event – a cataclysm that forever changed our perspective of jewish and human history,” many survivors have come to believe that those murdered must be remembered not only as victims but as humans whose lives, culture and dynamic creativity were stolen by the Nazi war machine and its henchmen. When Lucille E. was asked “what she hoped to achieve by writing her memoirs,” she said “Just to tell.
The stories are all pretty much alike yet they’re all different. Just to tell them one more story, I think. I don’t write it for my kids, certainly not for my husband (Lucille 27). ” I found a poem written by a survivor of the Holocaust called “A Survivor’s Prayer” in this poem the author wrote, “I could not throw away what had been ripped away from so many. In the end I had to choose life.
I had to struggle to cross the bridge between the dead and the living. I had to rebuild what had been destroyed. I had to deny death another victory (Malka B. ). ” I think that the author is saying that they are not going to take for granted the gift of life. They were spared for a reason and would not rest or be quiet while there were people out there who did not know the truth about the greatest tragedy of our time. The author was not going to die before they had told their story to all of those who wanted to hear.
The people of this world so often just block themselves out of the bad news of today. They feel that if they do not think about it then there is no reason to worry about it. In Wiesel’s book One Generation After he said “there is logic in history. The future is but connected, everything has its place. Man makes the transition from the era of holocaust silence to the era of communications with remarkable ease. Once walled in by ghettos, man now takes flight to the moon. If today we live too quickly.
If today we endow machines with increasingly wide powers, it is because the generation before us so foolishly left its fate and decisions in the hands of man (9). ” And if we leave our lives in the hands of man we will only be hurt. Man has proven over and over again that mistakes will be made, and people will be hurt in some way. In today’s world it seems that we put or fate in the hands of machines, computers now run our lives, and in less than three months we will find out if those computers will malfunction and again our lives will be harmed or changed in some way.
Maybe when the clock strikes twelve on New Years Eve the only thing that will happen is the celebration of the new millennium, and the computers will be all right and everything will work. Who knows? We will soon find out. The people of the Holocaust put their lives into the hands of God, and hoped that they would be spared. Those who survived wrote to understand, to inform, and to keep the memories of the seven million people who were so violently murdered alive. They want to be remembered for all that they have been through.
The people of today owe the survivors a debt of gratitude and respect. They have lived through something that most of us cannot even imagine, and that most of us do not even want to imagine. Why did God let this happen? Why did the world stand by and let this happen? The world as a whole should have come together and worked as one to stop this awful tragedy. I myself am sorry and I apologize for the lack of effort on my people’s behalf. No one should have to go through what those people did. May the world remember them always, all of them victims, and all of them hero’s.