In memory of the Holocaust Shuddered legacy | Sunday Observer

In memory of the Holocaust Shuddered legacy

27 November, 2022

These buildings often lead to thoughts of history, and as you walk along these deserted streets, you will notice how it is that humans prompted such a colossal war. The core message behind this story is not far-fetched in terms of human nature. As you walk along these buildings, their emptiness will make you exhausted. Your inner voice may urge you to be silent. And you will maintain silence with a natural obligation. These premises made their way into history because of one man who went by the name of Adolf Hitler.

Hitler captured Germany through democratic means and slowly released his Fascist acid water into an innocent ethnic group called Jews. He made his intention clear: he wanted to cleanse the world.

What stands today as a tourist attraction, as well as a grim reality of a bygone torturous historical chapter, is the Auschwitz concentration camp, a complex of 48 concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. The premise accommodates three buildings: the original concentration camp, the concentration extermination combine camp (Auschwitz II–Birkenau), the labour camp to staff an IG Farben factory (Auschwitz III–Monowitz), and a few more subcamps.

The most dreadful chapter

The world had been a different place before the beginning of World War II and it had an impact on literature after the war. Anyone who reads the literature of that era is more than familiar with two phrases: Auschwitz and Holocaust. Could there be a more terrible time than what the world experienced in the run to World War II? Perhaps the world never wishes to hear it. Though we have come half a century past that most dreadful chapter of the world chronicle, it continues to haunt modern-day literature perhaps like no other period. When he wrote ‘Day’ Elie Wiesel, Romanian-born American Jewish writer and professor, said this: A novel about Auschwitz is not a novel – or else it is not about Auschwitz.

The tragedy

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on January 27 commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated six million Jewish people, five million Slavs, three million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on November 1, 2005, during the 42nd plenary session. The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust.


In her ‘The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945’ Lucy Schildkret Dawidowicz elaborates on how the Holocaust came to be. The term holocaust comes from the Greek term holókaustos: hólos, ‘whole’ and kaustós, ‘burnt offering’.

If you are determined to complete all the films made and books authored on the Holocaust, it is close to impractical. Perhaps you will be able to complete the films. But the books would take more than one lifetime. That episode was a trendsetter and continues to make trends even better today.

The books are mostly written by the survivors. Verisimilitude, the quality of seeming to be true or real, has been the implied question that emerged in the literature.

In Image and Remembrance: Representation and the Holocaust, Ochayon, Sheryl Silver notes his dilemma:

“Can this horrible experience be converted into an aesthetic experience? Will the readers who turn to books to escape the physical reality be ready to grapple with the horrible traits embedded?”

Elie Wiesel is one of the leading critics who question the verisimilitude of Holocaust literature.

“Then, [Auschwitz] defeated culture; later, it defeated art,” he wrote. “The truth of Auschwitz remains hidden in its ashes.”

Theodore Adorno refers to poetry written in the aftermath of Auschwitz. He considers it barbaric. He has often criticised the creative work linked with the event that shuddered the world.

Creativity, the sole cathartic medium

On many occasions, the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps have come to notice how little use words have in describing their experiences. In all their accounts, verbal or written, you find expressions such as ‘indescribable’, ‘inexpressible’, ‘words are not enough’ and ‘one would need a language for’ galore. True enough, creativity is the sole cathartic medium to express any experience however terrifying it may be. When it comes to Holocaust, a whole new language seems to have been born.

Holocaust literature encompasses various genres. A major portion of the genre is authored by the victims and survivors. That includes posthumously published works as well. Then there are other texts which are translated into English. Interestingly there are fake survivor accounts as well. Naturally, there are books authored by people based on victims and survivors.

What is authored through the voices of victims lays importance on personal writing as a means of understanding the Holocaust. They appear in various forms: diaries, stories and poems and serve to humanise the vast number of Holocaust victims by introducing readers to individuals with understandable dreams, passions and agonies.

The heartbreaking narratives of Holocaust survivors endorse that unbeatable determination to live, survive and preserve the remains of human dignity in the face of a dreadful misfortune. These biographies and memoirs breathe life into historical events. They add facts into an overpowering granary.

Specific Memorial Day

The narratives also bring out the courage that the Jews – as well as the non-Jews – had in resisting Nazi rule. They exhibited their protest in their own right, sometimes big and sometimes small. How they exercised that courage has now become history, a repository of remarkable stories. The stories give the lie to the fact that the victims simply submitted to the Nazi stronghold.

The importance of having a specific memorial day for the Holocaust is that most stories of the survival of tragedies may remain untold. They, though maybe no longer alive to narrate their tale, deserve a revered tomb in the historical annals.

The sole wish of the world shall be to see no heir apparent to this unwelcome legacy. Such evil must never be allowed to happen again. The presence of the Holocaust in literature even after half a century means the shuddered legacy is still alive with us every day, everywhere and the connection between it and the world is infinite.