Meaningful Literature: Don’t Forget the Past

Last week after my return from the wedding weekend, I made a long over-due visit to the Library. Now that school is out for the summer and I have more free time on my hands, I’m looking forward to doing a lot of reading! I am somewhat of a nerd, and I could spend hours browsing the shelves and deciding on what literary works should occupy my time. I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for mystery books, so a large part of my stack consisted of the genre. However, I do recognize the need to be well-rounded in my reading habits, 🙂 so I didn’t stop with fun fiction.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to and read a large amount of Holocaust literature. While some of it is not easy to absorb, I believe it is incredibly important for people to read this type of literature. Historical fiction, biography, and personal accounts are all wonderful ways to learn about the events that transpired during Hitler’s reign. This literature is both eye-opening and sobering—especially in the light of the current political and social events happening around us today. It is often said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, and this is proving to be true. I also think that many people are simply ignorant as to the extent of these atrocities and need to be made aware of the truth of what has occured in the past. Both children and adults should be educated on this subject and literature is a wonderful way to insure this happens.

There is a vast amount of literature geared toward and appropriate for school-aged children. The story of Anne Frank, a young girl from the Netherlands, is a story every child should be familiar with. And there are many other biographies and works of fiction that are both accurate and appropriate for educating children.

For adults, one author I highly recommend is Ellie Wiesel. He was a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner. While his books are heartbreaking and not easy to read, he wrestles with some of the deepest questions in life and speaks out of a wealth of experience and years of searching and asking questions. My most recent trip to the Library found me revisiting one of the books in his most popular Night trilogy.

The first book in the trilogy, Night, is his memoir and tells of his time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In my opinion, this is a book that everyone should read.

The second book in the trilogy is called Dawn, and this is a fictional work about a young survivor who emigrates to what was then British-controlled Palestine. The work is deeply psychological and the back cover describes it as

“…a haunting meditation on guilt, moral ambiguity, and the justifications man makes to man for the act of murder. Elisha, a young Jewish Holocaust survivor now living as a terrorist in British-controlled Palestine, awaits dawn, when he has been ordered to kill a captive English officer.”

The book chronicles Elisha’s inner turmoil over what he has been ordered to do by his superiors and his conscience and experiences. Is this action justified in light of the past? Can he take this man’s life? And where is God in all of this? What does He have to say about war and murder?

These books should serve to inform and educate, but they should also move us to action in our own personal lives. What can we do and how can we contribute to society to ensure that this type of thing will never happen again?

These are just a few books to get you started. More recommendations to come!

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