Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review and More Surrounding Yom HaShoah

Today is Yom HaShoah, which is the day we remember the victims and heroes of the Holocaust. It only seems fitting that I pay tribute to this day in some small way, even if it means something only to my heart.

A few years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of taking our oldest son on a vacation to Washington D.C. One of the most important stops on this trip was to the Holocaust Museum.

I have no other photographs from this tour, as no cameras were allowed inside. But I will say that nothing about this trip stands out to me as much as this particular moment, where the body of truth was cut open and laid out before my very eyes. While I can honestly say that I don't feel that I was shielded from this truth as I got older, it just wasn't something that my "world" discussed or educated about. Of course I knew it had happened, and had read the Diary of Anne Frank a jillion times.....but this was a defining moment for me. The tour had an actual virtual progression of time in Nazi Germany, a very realistic mosaic of how life became very bad rather quickly not only for the people of Europe, but more specifically for the Jews.
This link. tells more about the day of remembrance.
This link. tells more about the online exhibits at the US Holocaust Museum in DC.

I am by NO means an expert on the topic, but I will say that in the last few months my interest in the subject of Nazi Germany and WWII has really surfaced. It is a topic that I almost cannot get enough of, even if only to be more educated about the topics, as well as more outspoken about the horror and atrocities of that time period. It all began first, with the museum. Secondly, with THIS book.

My book club chose this as our book of the month about 3 months ago, and ever since then I have been starving for more information on the topic. This is required young adult fiction reading set in Nazi Germany. It is an historical fiction piece that very accurately tells of the ways of life in that setting. The oddest part for me was adjusting to the narrator of the story being death, personified. I HIGHLY recommend this book to ANYONE. Five stars and an A+++++++ from me, as well as from my book club.

No thanks to the previously mentioned book, I have read no less than 6 books since. And all have been about WWII, whether the Pacific front, or the European. Book reviews and info commence!

Because I was so confounded that anyone could be so evil, so "messed up".....I knew I HAD to read a biography of Adolf Hitler.
I am nowhere near finished with this book. But I have read the first portion that tells of Hitler's genealogy (very interesting), as well as his upbringing and earlier years. Here is what I can say I have learned: He had a blended family growing up, but relatively normal family life. He was a terrible student. He lost a brother when he was 9 and never fully recovered emotionally. He was overly attached to his mother, even to the point of borderline hate for his father. He preferred to live alone, and so reclusive as to be evasive as a young man. He was a lover of the opera, as well as a mediocre artist. He dodged the draft for years, which the irony is not lost on me. He was homeless for a couple of years, living on the streets, and lived in men's shelters for years on end. He would often get into rages and fits over "nothing" in particular. Today, I am SURE, he would have been diagnosed psychotic or schizophrenic, neither of which I know enough about to really say. And that is where I am in the book, with over 500 pages left to go.

I am in the middle of reading The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom.
This book tells the non-fiction, actual real story of a Christian family in Holland who had a huge hand in the Underground, which protected the Jews. Corrie has an amazing way of telling how she see's God's hand in their operation and life, and how to place your trust in Him even when there is evil all around. I cannot stop reading this book. It is truly fascinating, and sharing a faith with Corrie, helps me see that God's hand truly is in it all.

This next book, I read a few years ago, was NOT a good one for me.

As this is mostly a novel about a Russian Jewish family's immigration to New York City, the narration and profanity were not something I enjoyed. It was a celebrity favorite in a magazine I read, so I thought I would read it. I guess I need to keep in mind celebrities do NOT know best when it comes to books. (ahem....Oprah too.)

This will be my next book, and despite that Oprah does recommend this book, I have heard that several of my friends also recommend it. So when I put down The Hiding Place, I will pick up:

This next book is not set in Germany or Holland, but is from the same time period in France.

This is also a movie from 2010, which I really would love to rent and watch. The book was really good, even though so heart-wrenching. It is a fiction book set in Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Filled with tragedy surrounding this key event, the beauty of the story comes at the end with the power of reconciliation and forgiveness, as well as embracing the past with unity. A+++

The last two books I will rate were non-fiction pieces in regards to the Pacific WWII front. I highly recommend this book. The man whose story unfolds on these pages is truly an inspiration to me.
If you prefer non-fiction, make this your next read. It is amazing to me that any human can survive such cruelties and events and live to not only tell about them, but show the power of God's grace and healing.

This last book is more of a play-by-play from different American special forces men, who tell the stories of their experiences as either POW, or what specific battles were like. It is not elaborate, and doesn't whet my appetite for more like the other books did. But it is good for learning.

I am not eloquent with my thoughts or words, but my heart is in the right place. I hope that by sharing the truth about this time period with others and the future generations we can show love to all people, and learn to never stand in silence when evil and cruelty are present. May we all remember, today and always, the victims, survivors and heroes of the Holocaust.




  1. So glad you're reading Night. It's a really good book. Intense, like all books on the topic are. Thanks for the reviews.... Can I come borrow, like, half your books this summer when I'm broke?! :)

  2. You and Pops need to get together, he pretty much knows everything about the subject, almost every night he watches History Channel all about Nazi Germany, Hitler, etc... ughhh

  3. I also read Night years ago and loved it.

  4. The Hiding Place is also a movie....a pretty amazing one.

  5. One of the times that my Hubby was in Germany, he toured Dachau. He was able to take numerous photos. Very somber trip, but oh, so important to remember.