Literary Insperation of the Holocaust
Why do the survivors of such a tragic event such as the Holocaust want to remember those horrifying times by writing about memories that most people would only want to forget? I will show, Weisel has talked about, and as others have written, that the victims of the holocaust wrote about their experiences not only to preserve the history of the event, but so that those who were not involved and those who did survive can understand what really happened. They wanted the people of the world to realize how viciously they were treated. On top of wanting us to understand, they also want to understand why this happened. Why did the Lord let this happen? Why did the people of the world stand by and let such a thing happen to so many people? Today in the 90's we cannot think of letting so many people suffer, as those seven million people did in the mid-40s.
Perhaps the most recognized writer of the holocaust is Elie Wiesel. He was taken from his home and put into the concentration camps when he was still a young boy. Wiesel once said, "I write in order to understand as much as to be understood." He was liberated in 1945 and, once he was liberated "he imposed a ten-year vow of silence upon himself before trying to describe what had happened to him and over six million other Jews."
In a lecture on the dimensions of the holocaust Wiesel said, ""The Holocaust as Literary Inspiration" is a contradiction in terms. As in everything else, Auschwitz negates all systems, destroys all doctrines. They cannot but impoverish the experience which lies beyond our reach."
"How can one write about a situation which goes beyond its very description? How can one write a novel about the Holocaust? How can one write about a situation and not identify with all its characters? And how can one identify with so many victims? Worse, how can one identify with the executioner? How could a victim say "I" in the place of his killer? Furthermore, how can one convince himself without feeling guilty that he may use such events for literary purposes?"
Weisel says that any survivor who has told the story of their experiences in the Holocaust cannot tell the whole story, or people will think that they are crazy. "Most novelists of this category, or most writers, seem to have followed the same pattern. Viewing literature as a way to correct their friends, to their families, to their own childhood and to their people (Weisel 8)."
Some of the victims of the Holocaust realized how important it was to keep a record of the events of the time. "Chaim Kaplan wrote in his diary on January 16, 1942, "The whole nation is sinking in a sea of horror and cruelty. I do not know whether anyone else is recording these daily events. The conditions of life which surround us are not conducive to such literary labors. Anyone who keeps such a record endangers his life. But it doesn't alarm me. I sense within me the magnitude of...