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An Interview with Barbara Rösch about “Recommended Reading on National Socialism and the Holocaust”

Four women sitting at a table with books

Members of the reading circle © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Christine Marth

A German-language brochure listing “Recommended Reading on National Socialism and the Holocaust” was recently made available for download from our website as a PDF. Over the last few years several museum employees read widely on the topic, shared their opinions and then made this selection. Dr. Barbara Rösch of our Education Department talked to me about what was involved. She is a member of the reading circle and also worked for a time at the Universities of Potsdam and Leipzig as an elementary school teacher trainer. In addition to her work at the Jewish Museum Berlin she is currently writing a book about everyday racism in elementary schools.

Dear Barbara, countless books about National Socialism and the Holocaust are available for children and young people. How did you go about making a selection?

Our work is oriented primarily to the needs of teachers, who regularly ask us to make recommendations and indeed seem almost to think that we must. We therefore bear in mind the so-called “classics” that are read in German classrooms as well as new publications, books written from a non-German perspective, and books that touch upon hitherto neglected themes, such as the hakhshara movement.  continue reading

Coal-black language

Girl in an red coat with roses on her hands

Book cover of the German edition of “Blumen für den Führer” © Verlag cbj

Innumerable publications have appeared on the market about the Nazi period in Germany, as well as a steady stream of new novels, non-fiction, and books for children or young adults that deal with this subject. Among them you will find Jürgen Seidel’s “Flowers for the Führer,” the first part of a trilogy that is, according to the reviews, “a very complex, moving, and exciting novel for young adults about a tragic love story during the era of National Socialism,” and is also “worth reading for adults.” Some of us read the trilogy as part of a reading group dedicated to keeping abreast of children’s and young adult literature about Nazism. And we quickly discovered that instead of discussing the depiction of the Nazi regime and German history, we needed to talk about something else: racism.
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“One of these days I’m going to tell you everything”

Cover of the Graphic novel 'The Boxer'

Cover of the Graphic novel © Reinhard Kleist, The Boxer, Selfmadehero 2014

Several of us at the Jewish Museum Berlin have observed that, over the last few years, the market for young adult literature has begun to demonstrate a growing interest in the subject of Nazism and the Holocaust. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing contemporary and classic works on this topic that we have read and discussed together.

What happened to the people who survived the concentration camps – what was life like afterwards? For their families, their children, the survivors themselves?

Alan Scott Haft’s father Hertzko Haft was a vicious and violent man, the polar opposite of what we would consider today to be a “good father.” Many years passed before Alan Scott Haft understood – and he didn’t really want to know – why his father was that way.

At some point he learned a little more:  continue reading