Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Reader

Went to see 'The reader' tonight. It was a powerful film, starring Kate Winslett, David Kross and Ralph Fiennes. It was heavy. Not sure what it was trying to say. I do have a strong interest in the Second World War and what led the German nation to follow Hitler in the 1930s. How could any nation stand aside (unknowingly?) as its Government slaughtered millions of innocent people in a Holocaust. I think this film was trying to say something about how human failings can lead to terrible events. It revolves around a woman and a young man who remain silent because they have shameful secrets they don't want to disclose - with destructive consequences for them both. No laughs at all, a bit of raunchiness to lighten the first half of the film. But I enjoyed it.


Savonarola said...

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out

Pastor Niemoller's poem. Original translation.

This is what the film is about.

Glyn Davies said...

Savonarola - Its a good poem. I thought the film, though set against the background of the Holocaust, was of wider application. Turning a blind eye to avoid trouble is a human failing which can have devastating consequences.

Savonarola said...

Yes. The fundamental message of the Pastor's poem can move across time and place.

Examples abound.

Once you compromise with evil, thats it.

There but for the grace of God......

Jeff Jones said...

If you are interested you could read Daniel J Goldhagen's book 'Hitler's Willing Executioners' although it is quite controversial. A safer bet might be to read all three volumes of R J Evans's first class history of the Third Reich which has been published by Penguin. You would also find 'Ordinary Men' by Christopher Browning interesting. This is a pretty shocking account of the massacre of German Jews in Poland by a reserve police battalion consisting mainly of men from Hamburg who had probably had not voted Nazi before 1933. The men unusaually were given the choice of not taking part in the massacre by their commanding officer. The majority did not take up the offer and then proceeded to execute individual Jews. Browning comes to the frightening conclusion that it was the fear of being seen as the odd one out that stopped many refusing to take part in the massacre.

Glyn Davies said...

Jeff - I've read none of these books. But I have read articles and books about the way people have behaved in war which have made me wonder about the weakness of the human will, and the extent to which we are all capable of doing terrible things when it becomes the 'norm' tht is happening around us.

Ian said...

Perhaps you could have a word with your MEP Roger Helmer, who in his blog this week made a comparison between the Nazi's forcing non-Germans to speak German and the language LCO-not a helpful contribution..

Glyn Davies said...

Ian - I'd rather not. I try not to put myself in positions where I might just lose it. Best do no more than say that I do not think it was an appropriate comment to make.