It is the written word that will have to substitute for the heart-rending tales of woe shared by those who endured hell on earth.That is, after all, all that will remain of six million victims. They must speak for those who cannot, but whose suffering demands to be remembered and whose deaths cry out for posthumous meaning. The Holocaust is inexorably moving from personal testimony to textual narrative.Survivors, those who clung to life no matter how unbearable so that they could confirm the unimaginable and attest to the unbelievable, are harder to find after more than half a century.One can readily understand why the book has had such a strong impact on countless readers, become required reading in high school Holocaust courses round the country, and is about to be released as a major motion picture. How should one react to a book that ostensibly seeks to inform while it so blatantly distorts?If it is meant as a way of understanding what actually happened -- and indeed for many students it will be the definitive and perhaps only Holocaust account to which they will be exposed -- how will its inaccuracies affect the way in which readers will remain oblivious to the most important moral message we are to discover in the holocaust's aftermath?Without giving away the plot, it is enough to tell you that Bruno, the nine-year-old son of the Nazi Commandant at Auschwitz (never identified by that name, but rather as "Out-With" -- a lame pun I think out of place in context) lives within yards of the concentration camp his father oversees and actually believes that its inhabitants who wear striped pajamas -- oh, how lucky, he thinks, to be able to be so comfortably dressed --spend their time on vacation drinking in cafes on the premises while their children are happily playing games all day long even as he envies them their carefree lives and friendships!
No, there will never be too many books about this dreadful period we would rather forget.No, we have no right to ignore the past because it is unpleasant or refuse to let reality intrude on our preference for fun and for laughter.