Lessons from A Picture Book

I used to work part-time at my university library, and now that my mom has a school, I’ve decided to start cataloging and organizing the children’s books. I’ve come across some really good literature in the process. I’ve found a graphic novel based on the story of the “Korean Robin Hood,” Hong Kil Dong. The graphic novel is based on the first novel written in the Korean language. I found the folklore stories of High John the Conqueror, which I feel like I never heard of. They are stories that the slave masters supposedly never heard. I also found a gem called the Anne Frank Case which follows some investigations by Simon Wiesenthal who was a Holocaust survivor that hunted down and searched for war criminals from World War II.

This picture book is about how Wiesenthal took up a case to find the Gestapo officer who had arrested Anne Frank, her family and the friends who were in hiding with them. Some time after WWII and the Holocaust, after Anne’s father had published her diary, and after it had become an international bestseller and a play, some people refused to believe the Holocaust had happened.

Even reading the first couple pages of this book blew my mind. The heaviness of the people’s denial was a weight too similar to the indifferent attitudes of people I currently face daily.

“Although Simon heard that the students would be disciplined at school, not one was punished. Simon realized that the guilty ones were not only the kids ‘but their parents and teachers.’”

Incredible. Unbelievable. This all too familiar statement is something we already know to be true. We already know that people, even today, who are in the wrong are not being punished, but to be reprimanded by a children’s book from the past should be a disgrace to us as a nation. But it’s not for some.

“After the war ex-Nazis had returned to their teaching jobs in Austria and Germany. Some remained silent about their past. Others boasted.”

Can you believe that? They boasted about the brutal and inhumane deaths of more than 11 million neighbors.

Many ex-Nazis and Nazi sympathizers taught that the Holocaust had either never happened or that it had been greatly exaggerated. The adults were passing along a heritage of bigotry and ignorance to their children.”

Disgusting. As I sat in disbelief of the pages I was reading in a book written for children no older than 10 years of age, I had to ask. Who are the parents and teachers of the leaders and neighbors in my community?

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