What is Holocaust forgiveness? For whom is the forgiveness meant? And what if the crime is so big, there can be no forgiveness? I’ve been thinking about these issues the past few months because it popped up unexpectedly in my professional and personal lives. First, the professional, which you’ll find more interesting.
Early this year, I wrote a feature for Publishers Weekly about what I consider to be a groundbreaking new children’s book about the Holocaust. It begins:
With anti-Semitic acts on the rise worldwide and polls that show a disturbing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, Michigan author Danica Davidson says the timing is crucial for her middle-grade book, I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz (Little, Brown, April 5). The title was co-written with Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor before her death in 2019.
“Eva’s argument was that if we wait until 12 or older to teach about the Holocaust or anti-Semitism, it’s too late, because the prejudice has already set in,” Davidson tells PW. “That’s why she wanted to reach younger kids.”
So far so good. I enjoy my occasional gig at PW because their religion editor allows me to interview some fascinating Jewish authors.
Then came this letter addressed to pretty much every higher-up editor at the magazine:
I was dismayed to see the article below on PW. Eva Kor is an anomaly among survivors of the Shoah. She has generated a great deal of anger over her disturbing accounts of forgiving Nazis for perpetrating genocide against Europe’s Jews. Most of her support has come from a small segment of Christians drawn to her message. You have the opportunity to highlight the many outstanding works which accurately educate readers, including young readers, about the truth of the Shoah. Even the title, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” of the documentary about her should have alerted you to the pernicious nature of her message.
Please consider posting an update, removing this piece, or simply keeping in mind the importance of accurate portrayals of the Shoah in the future.
I could tell that my editor at PW must have been in a slight panic over the prospect of wandering into an internal Jewish argument. I received an email in the evening asking what we should do about this.