Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and people are sharing many remarkable stories, memories, and photographs, some terrible in their sadness, some of terrible inspiration. I am thinking of the Holocaust today—and all those other holocausts and genocides.
The unspeakable things (which must be spoken) that were done to people because of their difference—racial, cultural, genetic, sexual, disability, mental health. All these tragedies are somehow all part of a terrible family, somehow related while intrinsically different.
I hope that the ever-increasing collection and recollection of Holocaust stories are also somehow helpful to survivors, many who feel that, as they age, time is running out. There are so many resources, and new ones are being created and shared every day, that I hope these survivors feel that their story, or at least the weave of history made of others' stories has taken root in human culture such that we understand and can't in good conscience, forget. History has witnessed and will not forget. Though we need to keep remembering and reminding. And drawing connections to past and future events.
I'm working on a novel which engages with the Holocaust and I was uncertain as to why I was doing this, writing yet another Holocaust-related story. However, I think that it is exactly this. To keep remembering. To continually make new connections with both past and future, with our own culture's history and others'. History should always be rhizomatic and I think we need to keep those often subterranean connections spreading. That kind of forest you can't knock down.
Doing research recently, I came across this documentary about one of the only entire families to survive the camps. They were Jewish, performers, and seven of them had dwarfism. Being discovered by Mengele at Auschwitz was both a curse and blessing. It was his fascination with this family of little people that ultimately kept them alive.
It's a fascinating film, even if the style and narration is quite cheesy.