Monday, April 09, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust

Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust Ruth Thomson

The Terezin ghetto was a holding center for Jews on their way east to Auschwitz. Terezin remains a bit of a “special case” in the historical record of concentration camps. There was a propaganda workshop here and many of the slave artists stole supplies and created an alternate visual record of their reality. These works were hidden and survived the war. Terezin was also used for a propaganda film to show the world that it was a model village where the Jews lived normal lives.

Thomson lets the residents of Terezin tell their own tale. Each page spread has a different subject, in roughly chronological order. There is a paragraph or two of introduction, then quotations from the people who were there, as well as large illustrations-- either photographs or the surviving work of the artists.

The design is crisp and clean.

The problem in the this approach is that it ends up a bit detached. The lack of overall narrative and the brief introductions don’t provide enough context and, as with many remembrances of extremely traumatic events, the quotations tend to be factual and unemotional. As such, the book doesn’t give a true sense of the scope and the horror of what happened, or what was different about Terezin.

It needed more to put these voices into context.

Today's Nonfiction Monday round up is over at Ana's NonFiction Blog. Be sure to check it out!

Book Provided by... my local library

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Roberta said...

I actually like the fact it wasn't quite so emotionally charged. It might be a way for ultra-sensitive kids to tiptoe into a distressing subject.

Tammy Flanders said...

I know what you mean by the detached feeling. I thought many of the voices sound too much alike. Nevertheless, I did like this book.
Apples with Many Seeds.

Books4Learning said...

Thanks for your honest review. :) A topic like this one is tough in general, but I am sure even tougher to do for children. I can see how the fragmentation is distracting. It is preferred by some though. For me, it depends on the book.