Friday, February 23, 2007

Unanswered Questions

Posted by: Margaret Lincoln // Category: Historical time period,Literary images // 11:52 am

USHMM 14th StreetHas our reading of All But My Life raised additional questions about the Holocaust? Are you interested in learning more about the life and work of Gerda Weissmann Klein? United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellows Darryle Clott and Bill Younglove look forward to joining the discussion and responding to questions.


  1. BYounglove

    An early thanks to Dr. Margaret Lincoln for setting up such a forum where Gerda Weissmann Klein’s ALL BUT MY LIFE memoir can be read and discussed!
    Bill Younglove 🙂

  2. DClott

    I am so looking forward to joining my friend Bill Younglove in this forum. I am a “Gerda Groupie”, and I am proud to call Gerda Weissmann Klein my friend. I just spoke to her last week, and she said to greet all of you. I look forward to your comments, and especially to your “unanswered questions” that Bill and I will try and answer.

  3. BYounglove

    from Bill Younglove, Instructor/Teacher Supervisor at California State University Long Beach. To Vanessa, Abbey, and any others who want to “go beyond” ALL BUT MY LIFE…. I agree with Darryle Clott that Gerda’s A BORING EVENING AT HOME, besides being a funny title, is a good read, as is Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT. In a reading survey I conducted for the USHMM a few years back, these titles were also very popular: DRY TEARS by Nechama Tec, THE CAGE by Ruth Minsky Sender, I HAVE LIVED A THOUSAND YEARS by Livia Bitton-Jackson, and, if you consider yourself a very mature reader: SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ by Primo Levi. Like Darryle, I think that the willingness of many of you to do community service,, actually helping people right in your area, even if your school or district “requires” it, is the fastest way to break down walls between people. You are to be commended!

  4. KCC

    I was curious about Gerda’s treatment in the hospital (after the war) which she describes on page 229. She tells about the hot water which she says was boiling hot and the cold ice water treatment that she was given. I am a retired RN and wondered if this same type of treatment would be given today?
    – Elaine

  5. LakeviewHS

    Jon, I was wondering if there Is still an active Nazi party today

  6. BYounglove

    from Bill Younglove, California State University Long Beach: Jon, your question about an active Nazi Party is an interesting one. One time, Simon Wiesenthal, the well-known Nazi hunter, (centered in the Vienna, Austria area) kept hearing people around him talk about “Neo–Nazis.” Finally, he asked, “What’s neo [new] about Nazis? He was right. As you may know, an organization code- named Odessa helped many Nazis at the end of World War II escape capture, trial, and, often, Europe itself. Some of these individuals surfaced in other parts of the world, their ideas little unchanged. In Germany itself, Nazi affiliation and practices are outlawed. Other countries, however, have had Nazi-type organizations and, at times, candidates and political support for public office (largely in Europe). An excellent overview of Nazi belief in the United States is The History Channel’s VHS video (100 minutes): “Nazi America: A Secret History.” While a bit dated (released in 1996), it shows the spread of Nazi ideas in this country. In his more pessimistic moments, Elie Wiesel’s response to the question: “What have we learned from the Holocaust?” has been “That they [Nazi-types] can get away with it.”

  7. BYounglove

    from Bill Younglove, California State University Long Beach: Elaine, I defer to medical experts and others re: Gerda’s hot/cold water treatment for her feet. It does occur to me, however, that such alternate sensations might reveal, eventually, the extent to which her feet were recovering (from marching,? from frostbite? Or?); therefore needed further treatment, including possible amputation. Interestingly, Elie Wiesel faced such a horrendous possibility, described in NIGHT, when an operation removed a tremendous amount of built-up pus due to infection–just 48 hours before the forced death march began.

  8. KCC

    to Bill Younglove, thankyou for your reply to my question about loss of sensations in Gerda’s feet. I think she thought the water was boling but it really wasn’t but then they knew she would recover. Boling water would kill the tissues of her feet.

  9. KCC

    Mary Jane,

    I’am happy that you found a new life for yourself. There is always a new leaf in your life as time goes on. I can look back through my life and there are many chapters, each very different. Some chapters better than others. If you always try and see the good in others that helps you. Each person has their own problems even though you don’t see them. If you show caring for others and keep busy helping others that helps you forget yourself. Keep smiling, Esther

  10. KCC


    I was a young girl when war was delared and I remember it like it was yesterday. Before it was delared their was so much talk about should we go or not? It was the right choice. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the people making these decisions.

  11. DClott

    Darryle Clott, Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI
    Your comment about the water treatment for Gerda’s feet really got me thinking. I am very non-medical so I certainly do not know what would be done nowadays, but how good that the doctor was able to see Gerda’s strong reaction against possible amputation & come up with the water idea. Then, how miraculous that it worked. She had such strong convictions in everything she did. She seemed to sense what was needed always. I think you must be right about Gerda recalling that the water was boiling, but it could not possibly have been. I love her comment about the treatment causing excruciating pain but that she rejoiced in it because she knew it signaled life and being able to eventually walk again.

  12. KCC

    One thing about Gerda that surprised me was her not being truthful sooner with Abek. She knew he was head over hells in love with her and wanted to get married. He went through a lot, even sacrificing his freedom to be close to her and she always made him belief that there was reason for his expecting marriage. She should have been truthful to him much sooner. I realize the customs of parents getting marriages arranged, but she was not abiding by rules set for her in other things. Abek certainly suffered much longer than it would have been necessary

  13. KCC

    Phyllis, Harper Creek resident I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Lincoln, ILR, and Scot Durham for the opportunity to participate in this project.

  14. mlincoln

    To our friends from the KCC Lifelong Learning program:
    We are all newcomers to the blogsphere and it has been very meaningful to have you join in the online discussion. You have brought valuable insights through your comments and questions. Thank you so much for contributing to this project!

  15. HarperCreekHS

    Mary Jane, Adv. Lit. 1st Block
    While reading this book, I discovered that during World War II, many of the Germans supposedly did not know what was going on with the holocaust. I do not understand how they did not know what was going on. It totally amazes me that such an atrocity could go unnoticed. Did they really not know, or did they not care to know? I know that if millions of people of a certain race or religion in America today were being rounded up, I would want to know what was going on. I just want to know how and why the people of Germany supposedly “did not know.”

  16. BYounglove

    from Bill Younglove, instructor at California State University Long Beach:
    Mary Jane of Harper Creek HS, even at this moment, on the eve of Gerda’s long awaited appearance, I noticed that you raise a very important issue, one that has puzzled many of us who have studied the Holocaust for many years. I cannot truthfully answer who and how many in Germany or occupied areas before and during the war years knew what (or how something) was being done to the victim groups. We do have, in the historical literature, many reports of people in the towns/cities near the concentration and death camps experiencing sightings of prisoners working and, particularly, smelling burning flesh emanating from the camps. We also have many reports from the towns/cities through which the death marches took place near the war’s end.
    I want to raise the issue a different way today, however. Each of us lives in states where we have a prison system. How many of us, I wonder, can even tell where those prisons are located, how many there are, let alone the conditions that exist in those prisons. In our case, of course, we (would say/think that we) count on the free press to alert us to how those people are being treated. Granted, those people imprisoned in the U.S. today are convicted of illegal acts. Still, my point is simply this: What do each of us know about the wider community of which we are a part? How much do we “go out of our way” to find out what may be happening? Both of these things, to my way of thinking, precede that ultimate tough ethical question of: What am I going to do about it?