This week’s Find Out Friday is going to be a bit more dramatic than a list of trivial facts about the questions swirling around in my brain. As you can see it has a more familiar title similar to my regular blogs. It appears World War II has been all I can think about lately. The more I learn the more questions I have. It seems like a bottomless pit. Television is where it all begins.
“Hunting Hitler” is a History Channel show in its second season and I am obsessed with it. It provides recently unsealed documents as a team traces the footsteps of an alive Adolf Hitler, post 1945, who we find is still living after he is allegedly found dead in his bunker. It may seem farfetched and that’s what I thought too but the proof is unbelievable. You truly have to see it to believe it.
Along the same lines is the hit Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle”. It is based off the book of the same name and imagines a world where the Allies did not win WWII. Japan has control over California; the Nazi’s rule most of the country including the East Coast with an exception of a small so-called Neutral Zone. Lets just say that seeing this country that way is a little too real for me. It makes me think of our future president because to me he feels like a Fuhrer but with less of a game plan. This world can so easily become a scarier place. The second season debuted today. Strangely enough I can’t wait to watch it.
Last weekend I watched many documentaries about Pearl Harbor and the attacks furthered my desire to know more. Now that I do about the U.S.S. Arizona and Oklahoma as well as the Japanese midget submarine attack that occurred about an hour prior to the assault from the air. By the end of an entire day of watching some of the best documentaries I have seen, by the History and Smithsonian Channels, I was emotionally exhausted. I didn’t think I could take anymore but then my Netflix movie arrived.
“Sarah’s Key” was finally at the top of my list. I didn’t remember if it was a true story or not but I knew it was Holocaust adjacent. That’s what I was prepared for. What I was certainly not prepared for was a movie that made me hold my breath, questioning what I knew to be true in life as well as well as in history. That’s how we arrived here.
Augusten Burroughs, of “Running with Scissors” fame, said of “Sarah’s Key”:
“This is the shocking, profoundly moving and morally challenging story... It will haunt you, it will help to complete you… nothing short of miraculous.”
“Sarah’s Key” is also a book by Tariana de Rosnay. I will not be spoiling the plot for anyone, as I can not suggest strongly enough that you see or read this story, but to say it is a work of fiction that tells the story of an American woman living in Paris exploring a very true, historical event know as The Vel d'Hiv Roundup of 1942.
When I started this research I was horrified for two reasons. The first being I was not properly taught this happened in school and second that it happened at all.
To get a brief overview this video says it all.
France essentially took its own people who were Jews and forced them into encampments without bathrooms, food, or water. The Vélodrome d’Hiver had previously been an indoor bicycle arena located in the 15th Arrondissement. The French government has only recently acknowledged their responsibility but hardly any documents remain from that time. The paper trail was purposefully left bare. There were over thirteen thousand people held, approximately four thousand were children. Single persons were held at the Drancy, which was a work camp. Those who survived this hell were lucky enough to move on to concentration camps once the Germany invaded and had influence. The Vélodrome has been razed for some time.
There are monuments now honoring those who suffered and died as a result of this policy. In the Marais area in the 4th Arrondissement has a wall of names with seventy-six thousand of those who were deported to be exterminated.
The Shoah Memorial and Holocaust Center is nearby serving their mission to “understand the past to illuminate the future”. The Holocaust Center opened in 2005 as the Memorial already stood. It serves as France’s largest reading room on the Holocaust as well as a museum and documentation center.
The associated Memorial Crypt has a Jewish star in honor of those who were lost but remain unknown. This is the quote that hangs above the star:
“Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. Young and old, our sons and daughters were cut by the sword”.
Thankfully I plan on returning to Paris next year. I will be visiting this neighborhood because I want to be sure to pay my respects.
The whole internment camp saga of course didn’t only occur in Europe. We had mistreated our citizens as well. At the beginning of this year I saw George Takei in Allegiance on Broadway (http://bit.ly/2hFOQi8). To say this was a story that moved me underestimates how hard the beginning was to watch. I finally felt like for once I could remotely understand the horrors those who were stripped of their homes, lives, and rights. The first half hour of this show was so emotional for me I almost thought I would have to leave. Judging from what I watch in my spare time you can see I don’t scare easily. I am glad I powered through because it was beautifully done.
After reading and learning about all this suffering it really all comes down to one thing.
What would you have done to stop it?
Whatever that is, the time to act is now.
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