Visiting Aushwitz with kids??

Oct 16th, 2007, 04:43 AM
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I'm with Kerouac and angelnot on this.

In school history lessons (in the UK) it was quite common to be shown those black and white newsreels of war atrocities. I don't recall anyone being traumatised by it, but it did make people think, which is after all, the point of education.

I don't believe in sugar coating the truth too much either, and find it amazing that it's considered fine for young kids to watch violent fictional films, be dressed like mini-adults in boob tubes etc, given gadgets they don't need - eg mobile phones for 7 year olds - yet they can't be educated about something a serious and important as the war, in case, god forbid, it takes away their 'innocence'.!!
RM67 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 04:52 AM
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>it's considered fine
Is it really?
logos999 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 06:13 AM
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Dear GS,

You could have saved me some embarrassment if you had mentioned that earlier.

I withdraw my question.

ira is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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Hi GS,

>As a benchmark of behavior how does it compare with Darfor?<

A very interesting question.

Genocide is, of course, a terrible thing.

The ones that come immediately to mind are those perpetrated on Armenians (Turks), Biafrans (Nigerians), Tsutsis (Hutus), Native Americans (Europeans), Ukrainians (Soviets), European Jews and other European minorities and peoples (Nazis).

I think that the Nazi atrocities exceed all others in
a. the sheer number of dead
b. the cold-blooded manner in which they were carried out
c. the lack of any mitigating rationale
d. that they were carried out by "civilized" people whom we thought we knew.

a. About 20,000,000 people murdered.

b. the murder of hostages, reprisal raids, forced labor, "euthanasia," starvation, exposure, medical experiments, and terror bombing, and in the concentration and death camps...

b1. One example, the massacre at Babi Yar, is lillustrative:
"The commander of the Einsatzcommando reported two days later:

Because of 'our special talent of organisation', 'the Jews still believed to the very last moment before being executed that indeed all that was happening was that they were being resettled".

c. Stalin's forced starvation of Ukrainians was justified by claiming that they were attempting to undermine the State by refusing collectivization.
In my other examples, the perps could argue the exigencies of warfare or civil war.
Hitler, however, murdered people even when it worked against his war effort.

d. I think that this is why those of us in the West make such a point of remembering Shoah (Holocaust); if it could happen in Germany, it could happen here.

For a and b, see

For b1, see

ira is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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>I think that the Nazi atrocities exceed all others in
a. the sheer number of dead
b. the cold-blooded manner in which they were carried out
c. the lack of any mitigating rationale
d. that they were carried out by "civilized" people whom we thought we knew.

It must be something different!

a. Sheer number never counts. If you're dead, you're dead. Be it one or a million. Numbers don't count in that matter
b. the cold-blooded manner
That's also always a point in any of those other genocides
c. the lack of any mitigating rationale
The murderers always have someting like that to justify their deeds, as did the Nazis. (they had a zillion excuses for murder.)
d. carried out by "civilized" people
Well, there are no civilized people on the planet, that's for sure.

logos999 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Hi L,

>Sheer number never counts. If you're dead, you're dead. Be it one or a million. Numbers don't count in that matter.

I see that you agree with Stalin: "One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic".

>...the cold-blooded manner
That's also always a point in any of those other genocides.

I respectfully disagree. One can murder civilians while angry. It is still wrong, but it is different from lining them up and gunning them down at leisure.

>... the Nazis. (they had a zillion excuses for murder.)

Again, I respectfully disagree. The slaughter of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, etc was conducted because they were "undesirables".

>Well, there are no civilized people on the planet, that's for sure.

Or very few at the most.

ira is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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angry and genocide don't go together. People are angry for a shopt time only. A genocide always needs planing. It means calculated murder and more money for the killers.
>was conducted because they were "undesirables".
Just read Goebbels speaches giving many rationales for killing. Or watch, if you can "Jud Süss" or others. Naive people may have argued that "killing is the only way of defense againt the jewish agressor." That was (almost) never openly said but pictures say more than words. "Undesirable" is different from "lethal enemy". And that's how Jews esp. were depicted by propaganda.
logos999 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 08:20 AM
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I visited Aushwitz 38 years ago when I was twelve years old. I remember it vividly to this day. I know there was an age restriction then, not sure if it is still in effect.

I remember my mother having a panic attack in the experimental killing cells area. I had to guide her to the exit.

Make sure you can handle the experience yourself.

I think that your children are too young.

I have an 18 year old and she would like to visit. I feel that my 15 and 13 year old are still too young.


cdnyul is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 09:05 AM
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As horrible as it is, I find it easier to 'understand' one group slaughtering another group of 'different' people just because they are different. It has happened since time immemorial.

I think it is for this reason that I was much more in a state of shock when I visited Tuol Sleng (S21) in Phnom Penh as well as the killing fields in Cambodia, where you can still see little pieces of bones and cloth mixed in the soil on which you are walking (after all, it was only in 1975). This was a group of people that decided to start killing itself, with children turning in parents and parents turning in children in an indiscriminate bloodbath. Considering the percentage of Cambodians killed in their own country, the Nazi genocide pales in comparison.

Strangely enough, whenever there are American elections, and I read all of the venom of the 'red state/blue state' debate, I feel that the same stench of hatred of one's own people is floating in the air.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Yes, I don't know why this is so frequently ignored. Only so little time has passed since then and in public perception it's like it has never happened. I doubt very much that people are able to learn. And I strongly believe it's some kind of abuse to show all this to children. Who knows how the can cope with it. Let them take the effort and go there themselves, when and if they're ready.
logos999 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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Am still following this very thought-inspiring thread with great interest.

I just finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" a fictional account of a nine-year old boy who loses his father in the WTC on 9/11. His grandparents "survived" Dresden bombings and came to the US only to lose their son...recommend this book highly...I finished it in one day because I had to know what happened...
gruezi is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 12:14 PM
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Thank you to the many people who have shared their experiences.

It is NOT all right, in my house, to show violent R-rated films to children, by the way. Neither is it all right to "sexualize" children when they aren't even teenagers yet. Children should be allowed some time to be innocent.

Our way of raising the children has been to show them all the love in the world and in the family. Then, only gradually, as they were ready, we revealed to them the ugly side of the world...hatred, violence...murder...

We now have a young adult son and 2 daughters who have been able to keep their loving heart and keep their compassion, even as they are fully educated about the realities of the world.

Many of the adults I meet who seem to lack heart and lack compassion and are too full of hatred...have been raised with too much exposure to the ugly side of life, too soon. That can kill a child's heart forever.

My daughters are caring and bold enough now to stand up for people who are being made victims of racism in real life, for example. That isn't easy to do. It's easier to keep quiet and stay out of it. They have heart and courage. They know what a loving world looks and feels like.

When my son was a boy he came home from school and told me he rescued a worm. He said it was crawling across the sidewalk after the rain and would have been stomped on if he hadn't rescued it. He was quite serious. Many other boys would have stomped gleefully on the worm. This compassionate side of my son now shows in the loving young man he has become. He is strong, keeps fit, has a girlfriend, works as an engineer, looks out for his sisters, is trying to start his own business, loves to travel, and I am proud that is is a strong loving man.
Melissa5 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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In regard to my previous post about visiting Dachau with our sons age 9 and ll.....34 years ago. I emailed them and asked if they remember that visit.
The very successful now 43 yrs old said (tongue in cheek" ..yes, it traumatized me greatly, and my life has been a failure because of that">). Then he went on to say, "ON A SERIOUS NOTE, I think it is greatly beneficial because it gives kids a perspective on history and the world and real life that one doesn't get staying in the American suburbs and playing video games all day."

The other son who was almost 12 when we visited Dachau wrote, "Of course, I remember every bit of it, from the museum at the front to the gas "shower" chamber to the bunkhouses. I even remember the parking lot. Kids are less sensitive today and make fun of things (like the movie Exorcist etc)
No, when kids are ALREADY exposed to unbelievable, insensitive, violence on TV and in movies these days (even real life), I SURE WOULDN'T worry about someone experiencing a piece of "HISTORY"!
I think you're either old enough to "get it" or too young to care.

So I guess it , as usual, boils down to individual children and parents and as some above said "Sugarcoating the world for children won't stop the horrors,......and another girl said, who had been there when younger "You can't protect children from everything, they NEED TO KNOW (history).
mari5 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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Ira left out two of the greatest killers, Mao and Stalin. Each killed approximately 25,000,000 of their own people in their indiviidual purges.

I think the hardest part anout the experience will be for the parents when the kids ask, "How could anybody do such a thing?"
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 02:05 PM
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I think 9 is too young. I'm curious if their schools teach a unit on the Holocaust and if so, at what age? I have taught the Holocaust to 7th grade students and to 11th grade students and obviously, I have taught the experience at age appropriate levels. I have taken both groups to the Holocaust museum in our area but again, they have not seen the same thing. It might be considered then, as others have suggested, to not expose all of your children to the same experience. Your 15 yr old might be able to handle the experience but only you know your child best.
coldwar27 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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coldwar27 gives excellent advice that comes from experience with educating many children about the Holocaust. I agree that you don't necessarily want to expose all of your children to the same thing. An age-appropriate experience is the best education for a child's mind, heart, and soul. The personality and sensitivities of the individual child should also be considered.

The question isn't whether or not to education children about the Holocaust. The question is how and when to do it.

No child is educated in one single "bring it on" session. Real education takes place in a long series of experiences which allow time for the child to learn and grow.

None of my comments have been directed at any parents who have shared about taking their children or teens to Auschwitz. I was, however, concerned about one comment in this thread by someone who seems to underestimate the power of Auschwitz and the responsibility we have towards children...This person didn't mention his or her own children. (I want all of the parents above who shared to know that I respect that there are many good answers to the question of how to educate a child about the Holocaust.)
Melissa5 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 06:19 PM
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It rather depends on why one is going oneself to see these memorials. Given the sensitive nature of the sites, and the pathos they evoke, it is particularly important to be clear about one's reasons for attendance, before, as opposed to after, the fact.

To the extent that anyone can assume a position of moral superiority on any matter of human import, one must earn the right through consistent and laudable behaviour in one's own life. Thus, if one is going to visit these places with the intent of nourishing the delusion that one would automatically - I stress, automatically - be incapable of "doing such things", say because of one's family history, or because of one's religious, national, or other affiliation, then yes, one would do well to leave the kids behind. Otherwise, one might wind up ensuring the exercise educates them in self-righteousness and grandiosity, instead of something more honourable.

As for nightmares, they are an opportunity to discuss how to respond when, not if, evil comes again to the world. There is little point pretending otherwise - kids generally know better.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Oct 16th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Sue_xx_yy: We must all teach morals to our children, even though we ourselves are human and imperfect. We teach morality to our children NOT because we assume any superiority, but because it is our duty as parents. Children aren't born knowing right from wrong...they are taught.

There aren't any perfect humans, and therefore there aren't any perfect parents.

I'm not sure of your point. Did you visit Auschwitz? And why? (You say one must be clear about why, before a visit to Auschwitz.)

We all make choices about morality...that is what being human is all about. Every day each and every one of us makes choices between right and wrong, and we make those choices to the best of our ability.

As for evil coming again to the is already here. It has never left. Every moment, in big and little ways, each one of us, including you and I, is trying our best to decide which is the right choice and which is the wrong choice. It is an inescapable part of being human.

bcohen: I admire the fact that you are a caring parent. You are thoughtful and caring enough to give consideration to your decision. Your children are fortunate.

Melissa5 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 02:47 AM
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>Ira left out two of the greatest killers, Mao and Stalin.<

I included Stalin.

I don't think that the purges can be considered genocide. Their purpose wasn't to destroy a people, but to terrorize it.

I did leave out the mass murder of Chinese and others - about 6,000,000 - by the Japanese military government.

ira is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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How young is too young to learn about the Holocaust? I was first told (and first-hand told) about the concept and the existence of the camps at the age of 5. I'm sure most Jewish kids can't remember when they didn't know about the Holocaust.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, my first BFF was the daughter of Auschwitz survivors. They explained the number tattoos on their arms and told me this was a "very bad time" with some "very bad people." I wasn't told about the ovens, starvation or medical experiments, but I learned how they lost absolutely everything they owned, including all their relatives. I doubt I connected "lost" with murdered or even dead, but I certainly knew my friend didn't have any grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. That made a big impression on me.

The thing I didn't understand was why all this happened to my friend's family just because they were Jewish. They spoke French, so I thought being Jewish meant you spoke French.

I also heard how the parents met, fell in love, lost each other at liberation and found each other again in the displaced persons camp, how they came to America with $20, worked hard and thought themselves very lucky.

Jean is online now  

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