HolocaustA Terrible Tragedy
The human tragedy of the Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of millions of Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. The adversity of this persecution influenced not only the European arena, but also peoples from all over the globe and their ideas.
The impact caused by this ethnic cleansing was enormous. People’s lives were drastically changed as they were persecuted and tortured. Families were taken out of their homes and forced to move to distant locations in exile. Their destinations were unknown and their future was also unsettled for they did not know what would await them.
That is exactly what happened to Esther Hautzig, the writer of The Endless Steppe, when she was just a little ten-year-old girl. Esther’s family, the Rudomins, was wealthy and ran a business in Vilna, Poland. They lived a happy and stable life until they were claimed to be ?capitalists and therefore enemies of the people.? Consequently, they were put on a truck that would send them to the ?Endless Steppe? of Siberia, where they would struggle to survive five long years of starvation and suffering (Hautzig 12).
Esther shares her feelings with the readers throughout her book; she tells us what exactly felt like to be in a cattle car full of peasants who seemed to be handling the situation in a much better way than she and her family did. She tells us of when they get to their destination and of how she attempted to gain an education in the conditions they were subjected to.
Hautzig’s Endless Steppe shows us the reality of the Holocaust; it puts us to think about our matters as very small and insignificant as we read about what the Rudomin Family had to go through and it makes us see how humans can become ?monsters? and performs such horrible and outrageous things such as massive murders.
Another book that illustrates the calamity of the Holocaust is Memories of my life in a Polish Village, by T.K. Fluek. In her book, Toby Fluek, a small Jewish girl, describes how her family had to move to a Jewish Ghetto and go into hiding several times to save their lives when World War II began. By the end of the war, only she and her mother had survived. Toby became an artist and presents her story through the use of her own art in paintings and descriptions of them.
It is amazing to hear from the people who have actually survived the Holocaust. It shows us how much we still have to learn about the world and the civilizations and how hard it is to understand the reason why we do such things to our fellow human beings. ?By 1945, two out of every three European Jews had been killed and the survivors continued to be oppressed.? (Telles 51) In addition, thousands of political and religious dissidents such as communists, socialists, trade unionists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their beliefs and behavior and many of these individuals died as a result of maltreatment.
According to the Preface to the Study of Women and the Holocaust, ?every Jew, regardless of gender, was equally a victim in the Holocaust? (Ringelheim 17). Women, men and children were equally threatening to the Nazis. Children were seen as ?the next generation of Jews? and, therefore, would have to be banned too. ?Jewish women and men experienced unrelieved suffering during the Holocaust? and we can understand it better by reading the books that survivors of that horror wrote, sharing with us all they went through (Ringelheim 26).
However, understanding should not be enough! We must be aware of all the hardship, misery and pain that the victims of the holocaust had to endure. We have to imagine what it was like and how bad it would be if something of such impact would be happening to us. Only by doing so we can prevent things like this from happening again. For example, the American Slavery and the genocide of Native American Slaves were also events of great anguish that happened in our society and that have some aspects that can be related to the Holocaust, such as the belief of a superior race and so on.
In conclusion, I believe that everyone needs to understand how the Holocaust came about; to understand the millions of people who were made victims by it and the legacy it has left the world. It is up to those of us who follow to remember and to help prevent such terrible tragedies from happening again.
Hautzig, Esther (Poland). The Endless Steppe. New York: Harper Collins, 1968.
The Endless Steppe is the story of the Rudomin family as seen through the eyes of teenage Esther. The family members are Polish Jews deported to Russia with only their unfailing courage to carry them through five years of exile, hunger, and privation, providing an insight into the agonies known to all refugees.
Fluek, T. K. (1990). Memories of my Life in a Polish Village: From 1930 to 1949.
New York: Alfred Knopf.
This is the story of Toby Fluek, who was a small Jewish girl growing up in Poland when World War II began. She and her family were moved to a Jewish ghetto in Czernica and went into hiding several times to save their lives. By the end of the war, only she and her mother had survived. Toby became an artist and presents her story through the use of her own art in paintings and descriptions of them.
This book can be related to The Endless Steppe because they are both about a family struggling to survive the Holocaust and its terrifying consequences.
Ringelheim, Joan. Preface to the Study of Women and the Holocaust.
Washington, D.C.: Contemporary Jewry v. 17-26, 1996.
This website was dedicated to a study by Joan Ringelheim on how women were treated during the Holocaust. It shows that gender was not an issue that concerned the Nazis. Everybody was equal.
This article can be related to The Endless Steppe because it talks about how the women and the children were treated and seen by the Nazis. It reminds us of the kind of treatment Esther was receiving: the same as everyone else’s.
Friedman, Henry. I’m no hero: Journeys of a Holocaust Survivor.
I’m no Hero shows what the Holocaust did to Friedman and his family as they learned to live again, homeless, unwelcome in their own country, having lost the rest of their family, and trying to find a place to begin again.
This book perfectly relates to The Endless Steppe because they both show how the families are trying to find ways for survival during the difficult times they are going through.
Friedrich, Hans Peter Richter. Puffin, 1987.
New York, 1993
This is a story of two friends representing two different families. This book shows the complete destruction of one Jewish family, and in doing so, brings home to the reader the tragedy and horror of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
This book can be related to The Endless Steppe because it concentrates on a young boy and how he manages to survive the Holocaust just like Esther did.
Novick, Peter. Holocaust in American Life, The (Book).
Virginia: Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2000.
The Holocaust in American Life in an investigation of the development of the Holocaust as a ?central moral symbol of American moral and political imagination.?
This book relates to The Endless Steppe because it questions how we see the holocaust nowadays and Hautzig also makes us wonder about different aspects of the holocaust in her book.
Telles, Carlos Queir?s. (1972). Toda a Hist?ria
S?o Paulo: ?tica.
This is a general history book that has a very extensive chapter on the Holocaust and its consequences.
This book can be related to The Endless Steppe because it describes events happening before, during and after the Holocaust. It also shows us how the people involved in those tragedies suffered and how the history turned out after that.