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Boy in the Striped Propaganda-jamas

Dachau suicideWhat’s wrong with imagining that a German youngster could traverse a maximum security perimeter to charm readers with his innocent observations, for example, mistaking dirty excrement- encrusted forced-laborer uniforms for striped pajamas? And more, sneak under the wire, to suffer and thereby confirm, the inmates’ inhuman fate?

This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 20, arrived with a new tale to beguile the kiddies: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

The photograph above depicts a concentration camp inmate killed between rows of barbed wire. At the Dachau Memorial its caption pronounces: “Suicide,” conjecturing that this inmate chose to rush the fence and be shot by guards sooner than endure any further brutalities. While the scene amplifies the savagery of the camps, it also puts to the lie the poetic liberties which imagine that camp inmates could linger in the no-man’s land between fences, or that likewise nearby locals could approach to within even hailing distance of the prisoners.

Angel at the Fence, Herman Rosenblat’s purported camp memoir, was debunked because the author asserted that he met his wife during the war, across the fence of a concentration camp, and that she saved his life pre-maritally, by throwing pieces of bread to him. Oprah called it the single greatest love story ever, but under scrutiny Rosenblat confessed his fabrication. Now he’s determined it should be redistributed as fiction, because it’s a magical tale that people still want to hear.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John BoyneStriped author John Boyne paints a similar scenario for younger readers, where two pre-adolescent boys meet on opposite sides of the fence of no less than Auschwitz. The German boy is fascinated by the other’s pajamas. Cute? Like a boy in another hemisphere being intrigued at a slave laborer’s dark black tan, or dirt under his fingernails? Eventually Boyne’s young protagonist crawls under the wire to join his new Jewish friend, and they die together in the darkness of a gas chamber.

Will this prove to be the ultimate aim of Holocaust Rememberers? To drag us all across an impassible divide, over a bridge that stretches credulity, by means of so false a memory that we suffer the Holocaust ourselves through a regression therapy assault on our psyche?

2 thoughts on “Boy in the Striped Propaganda-jamas

  1. Isn’t the point of the film to show the horrors of the Holocaust in a way that can be viewed by people who really have no comprehension of the daily lives of camp inmates? Having visited Dachau no film or museum can catch even 1/100th of the atrocities that happened in Nazi Germany, however I believe the story must be told and told again so we can never forget it.

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