--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates
Hotel Service
China Calendar

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Holocaust Cartoons by Germans Worry Jews

Jewish leaders in Germany are deeply upset by attempts to use comic strips to depict the horrors of Auschwitz. 

Two new comic books confront young Germans with the most graphic accounts ever of their country's Nazi past.


"You think it's just going to be another story," said Andreas Munch, 11. "And then, pow!"


German officers are shown screaming at prisoners as they pile up corpses retrieved from the gas chambers.


"All this has to be converted into cinders and ashes by the evening!" says the speech bubble in the story Auschwitz by the French artist Pascal Croci.


A second comic book, Yossel, by the American artist Joe Kubert, shows a boy being electrocuted as he tries to escape beneath the wires of a concentration camp fence.


No concession is made to the sensibilities of the young readers; the dead bodies are portrayed as graphically as if they were the fictional victims of Batman or some other superhero.


The cartoon versions of the Holocaust, published this week, are intended to introduce younger Germans to the tragic fate of Jews. The Holocaust is taught at all German schools and visits to a concentration camp are compulsory for older children, but pupils complain that the subject is too dryly and too cautiously presented.


Now Ehapa, a German firm that also publishes Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, has translated the French and American works to make the subject more accessible.


The project has sparked a nervous, sometimes angry response.


"A comic strip is not the appropriate form," says Ezra Cohn, 64, of the Jewish community in Dusseldorf. "The subject is too serious to portray in this way."


Paul Spiegel, 67, chairman of the German Jewish community, said: "We will have to watch very carefully indeed whether this kind of treatment really does address the people it is aimed for."


The fear in the Jewish community is that comic books could end up as collectors' items for far-right activists.


Crude anti-Semitic comics already circulate in the neo-Nazi underground in Germany and Italy. Camp commanders depicted as monsters in the comic strips are often perversely attractive to teenagers with ultra-nationalist sympathies.


The first attempt to break the Holocaust comic strip taboo, Maus by Art Spiegelman, tried to get round this problem by drawing Jews as mice, Poles as pigs and Nazis as cats.


In the United States, Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize, but in Germany, until the mid-1990s, police were still confiscating posters displaying Spiegelman's Jewish mouse hero over the Nazi swastika symbol. M. Croci's book comes the closest to the conventional comic book form, and as such has attracted the sharpest criticism. "Can you really show the savagery of the Holocaust as a comic?" asked the newspaper Bild. M Croci's argument is that Auschwitz has to be placed in the framework of current politics and be described in a form that leaves little scope for the imagination: it is time, he believes, to be direct with the younger generation.


"Growing up, I was repeatedly told, you are too young to understand," said M Croci. The turning point arrived at a Paris exhibition about the deportation of the Jews.


"An old woman approached me and I saw that she had a number tattooed on her arm -- she was my first eyewitness."


M. Croci interviewed more than 15 survivors.


(China Daily June 22, 2005)

Print This Page | Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688