Thursday, January 1, 2009

my friend just told me about this guy, Hitler?

I was talking to a tween girl a couple of days ago, the daughter of a handyman my parents work with frequently. We were talking about things she might be interested in doing in the area and that's what she said:

"My friend just told me about this guy, Hitler? He killed a lot of Jews."

I didn't really know what to do - I just froze - but it turns out the girl wanted to go to the Museum of Tolerance. Apparently her friend had just been, had told her it was fun, and now she wanted to go too.

So I guess the museum is doing its job by engaging children, and getting the word of mouth out where it's needed most, but it was a completely surreal experience. It was so strange to hear this girl say the name Hitler in a neutral way - just an insignificant historical character, not automatically weighed down with the worst crimes of the 20th century.

But frankly, I felt like I was getting a glimpse of the future - a future where people are not automatically expected to know who Hitler is - and that's not a comfortable thought.


romaine said...

hi, just found your blog through history of architecture.

thank you so much for blogging about this subject. even though young people seem oblivious, everyone who cares will count.

just to preface, i am not jewish at all - I am half german descent, raised in Minnesota on a farm and went to a luthern church.

I took a class in high school called quest for peace (this was in the early 1980s, I am 43 now) - there were a few weeks spent on the hollocaust. while the information was nothing but serious, and extremely disturbing, etc.. to me, I remember other kids in the class snickering when some of the death camp images in flims were shown - I could not understand that, I still don't but have come to think it may partly be due to how some people are born and how they deal with things,.. how they deny such things that could put them at unease (are they shallow or something else?).

For me, I have always been very sensitive, I have off and on been a vegetarian because of how i feel about animals, despite being raised by parents who never thought twice about raising animals to be slaughtered. I only mention this because it didn't matter what my parents believed and did - I was driven by something else.

Teenagers may be the least sensitive to other's suffering. Hopefully, when they mature they will have a better understanding of the world and won't be a generation that seems to have a short memory when it comes the events of the 20th century (at least).

Sorry if my response is unclear, but mostly I want you to know that i think it is very important for this subject to be discussed and not forgotten.

sincerely, romaine

Joanna Goddard said...

wow, that is so shocking!