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On the banalisation of the Shoah thanks to books like 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE
'Spectator In Hell', a recent biography of British Auschwitz survivor Arthur Dodd, explains how back in 1946 he once gave a humiliating public talk about his camp experiences. His increasingly embarrassed, disapproving English audience refused to ask him any questions when invited to do so, and he left the venue early and unapplauded. Throughout Europe, indeed, for the following decade most people were in a state of stubborn denial regarding the mid-century murder – in the heart of what they still deemed a civilised continent – of millions of people just for having the wrong surnames. In the early 'Sixties – when readers belatedly discovered the work of Anne Frank and Primo Levi - the Holocaust began to emerge from its secret prison in the collective memory and inch into the spotlight it finds itself in today. How sad, then, that this has now led to more and more writers breezily trading in on the Shoah as a dramatic backdrop guaranteed to spice up their banal, even cutesy, storylines. The latest example of this tacky fad is John Boyne's best-selling novel (now filmed) 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas', in which a death-camp commandant's son and a young Jewish boy prisoner become bosom buddies. This chicken leap of the imagination fails to clear its first historical hurdle, the well-known Nuremberg trial statement by Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess to the effect that 'children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work.' No time for them to strike up heartwarming friendships with his offspring, then. The camp once known as the Arsehole of the World was clearly not, repeat not, designed for such fairy tales to thrive in. Better far to return them to their proper home back in once upon a time.