A few months ago I read John Boyne's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" and though it was a difficult read, I was mesmerized by the tension of innocence and evil as it is a story of the holocaust from a child's point of view. The librarians at school had talked about it and I knew I had to read it. I read a few chapters and put the book aside for a full week; I wasn't sure I was up to it. Then I dived in and read it to the very end. It has haunted me ever since.
Tonight I watched the 2008 film version of the book as I was curious how film makers would create the film. It followed the book pretty closely, but I'm glad I read the book first even though it was a spoiler. You can check it an IMDB if you haven't seen it and want to. I rented it from Netflix. The film was done remarkably well and I go to bed with such sadness tonight. But the holocaust is history and it is important that young people today continue to know the truth about a very dark period for humanity. I have been to Berlin once, only two days after the wall came down, but I have never been to Auschwitz or any of the death camps.
This work was set in Berlin, 1942. When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But, Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than what meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
I highly recommend both the book and the film and would be very curious to hear what you thought if you have already read it and/or seen the movie.
I just keep thinking about the January reinstatement of a holocaust denying clergyman, Bishop Richard Williamson, by the current Pope. When I first read about this in the Huffington Post I felt deep shame and anger. After sitting with "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," I feel really outraged. In fact, I didn't follow the news about the Pope's visit to Israel and Palestine recently. I know he has apologized for the Church's behavior during World War II, but I'm not sure I believe it when he supports someone like Bishop Williamson.