Irreverence Now Shoah Teaching Tool: Graphic Novels

Source: The NY Jewish Week, 4-27-11

A graphic novel about Auschwitz is part of a growing trend of so-called Holocaust comic books.

After years of Holocaust farces, observers debate the uses of irony or graphic novels when it comes to Holocaust remembrance.

The traditional, reverent ways to “never forget” what happened to six million Jews during the Holocaust are still very much with us. Seventy years after the event, Holocaust museums have recently opened in Los Angeles and the Chicago suburb of Skokie, and even a city like Richmond, Va., with about 8,000 Jews, has one.

Public school curricula feature units on the Holocaust, trips to Shoah museums and visits by survivors themselves. And thousands of Jewish students still go on the March of the Living tour, which ferries them from the ashes of Auschwitz to the light of the State of Israel.

But as Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, nears this year, observers are debating the uses of irreverence to memorialize the event, especially when it comes to passing the lessons of the Shoah on to a younger, Facebook generation. After years of Holocaust farces like Mel Brooks’ hit Broadway play “The Producers,” Holocaust comedy films like Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful,” after Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” and art shows depicting Zyklon B canisters alongside Coke cans, irreverence, when it comes to the Holocaust, is now the classic “teachable moment.”

And in our medium-is-the-message world, the graphic novel (comic book, to an older generation) may end up being the vehicle to carry the memory of the Holocaust to younger people.

Will it all breed in young people a disrespect that is harmful to the cause of Holocaust memorialization, or is such irreverence only inevitable in this post-Holocaust age?….READ MORE

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