Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And Along Come Tourists

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, and in my feeble attempt to commemorate the day, I spent the afternoon at the Filmhouse viewing the film And Along Come Tourists.  The German film, set at Auschwitz, examines the German memory of history through the relationship of a young, German civil servant working alongside an 80-something survivor of the concentration camp. The young German, Sven, has some difficulty with the slow, depressing world embodying the former concentration camp. Yet, he convincingly evolves into a figure committed to civility, honoring victims, and recognizing the importance of history. In the last scene Sven's at the train station escaping back to Berlin, but he encounters a German school leader accompanying a group of young German students to visit Auschwitz. Sven abandons the train station and helps the group find the bus stop and how to get on to the camp. The German school leader, impressed with Sven's assistance, states [paraphrase as the movie was in German] that he's thankful that Sven's volunteering at Auschwitz as the world will now judge Germany as to their response to the horrific, systematic killing of millions of people. It's interesting that people, generations later, are concerned with an appropriate response to the atrocity committed by their former countrymen. Yet, the film never questions the appropriate response. Is commemorating a place, a piece of soil, a decent start? Is viewing the thousands of stolen suitcases, each representing a tortured victim -- is that an appropriate response?

Food for thought.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Food for thought indeed.

I remember seeing their shoes at the Holocaust museum in DC when I was 17. All these shoes were still there but the bodies weren't as useful as the shoes. I guess it's a worthwhile commemoration if it's burned in your mind 7 years later. I sure don't remember much else about being 17...

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