Crystal Rivas 11.22.08
ENG 11 Sections: 1853
The Holocaust left a cruel and torturous mark on history. Whether reading about it, watching it, or hearing an account of it from a primary source, the impact of it continues to remind us that tomorrow in never guaranteed. Evil lurks in every corner but the need to survive pushes one forward. The Holocaust presents the best and the worst of humanity. Being that the holocaust occurred long before one of my age, the only way to understand and gain knowledge of the horrific event is by other sources. Secondary sources, such as books and articles, have always left a greater impact than, movies and documentaries, and this continues to be the case. I believe that the documentary of the lecture given by Irving Roth, fails to be as real and vivid as the personal narrative in the form of the book, Bondi’s Brother by Irving Roth and Edward Roth. Of course both sources have its advantages and disadvantages, but one must acknowledge that the strength these mediators have had to impact the subconscious is enormous.
The lecture given by Irving Roth was inspirational. He stood within Bronx Community College, and recounted over his experiences. He stood the entire time. He was younger than I had imagined. He spoke with such energy and excitement that it was almost impossible to imagine him being an actual Holocaust survivor. His form of self expression absorbed our attention. Unlike the book, the lecture given by Roth emphasizes that the reason for the Holocaust to have been possible, was because of the betrayal. And as he spoke of betrayal, he spoke with such a passion and directness that it was almost impossible not to take his words to heart. “It wasn’t the laws; it was my friends that betrayed me” (Roth, Lecture). The Holocaust was possible and only possible if your friends betray you (Roth, Lecture).The lecture was full of logo. They turned friend against friend, Teacher against student, neighbor against neighbor. Betrayal. If they could have ran away, they would have, but where? There was no where to go. Other countries weren’t allowing Jew’s in (Roth, Lecture). He didn’t quite understand the political battles of the time but he did know that the miss treatment Jews were put under was unjust (Roth, Lecture). The Jews were forced out of their homes, forced to leave behind many of their possessions, and Roth watched as a young boy, as neighbors came and bought the auctioned off property with no consideration of who it belonged to (Roth, Lecture). People just didn’t want to get involved (Roth, Lecture). “When you standby and do nothing you become a perpetrator” (Roth, Lecture). So many were taken by the Holocaust. How one survives is impossible to truly understand. In order to survive you have to want to live, because the moment you give up you’re already dead (Roth, Lecture). Even after everything the Nazi’s did to him and his family along with other fellow Jews, he would not wish death on anyone. There are worse punishments than death because once you’re dead it’s over (Roth, Lecture).
I believe that the book, Bondi’s Brother by Irving Roth and Edward Roth goes a step above the documentary. The book begins with the protagonist, Irving Roth, explaining the start of the Nazi control. It explains how they took away his second mother, restricted Jews from owning businesses, and took away his home, his friends and family. “Grandpa said he was a pensioner and was told to go to the right. I was told to go to the left. I asked the Kapo (Inmate camp enforcer) where they took my Grandfather. He said, “Up the Chimney”(16). Bondi’s Brother allows one to become extremely involved with the character and his story. The book feels as though it were smothered in Pathos. “I wanted to go over to those people of Weimar and say, “Do you see me now? Am I still invisible? I should have done it. There was so much anger inside of me” (100). He reveals his struggle for life and his anger towards those who failed to see the injustice being committed towards those forced into the concentration camps. It reveals the pain and loss of a beloved brother by the name of Bondi.
I looked Bondi in the eyes. My stomach was in a knot. How cold this be happening? I knew this was bad. We hugged for a long moment and tears poured from my eyes. “Bondi, get back to the group. Sneak away. Listen to me.” I was sobbing. Bondi didn’t cry, but he looked scared. “I’ll be okay remember, everything is in God’s hands,” he said. (89)
Bondi’s Brother allows for the reader to become intimate with Irving and understand the true pain and hostility that was encountered within the Holocaust. One thing that truly stuck out to me was how everything eventually became the norm. How the sight of death failed to have a major effect on him after year of seeing it.
Beyond the fence was the crematorium. I decided to get a look at the place. I thought it would disgust me, but it was just a room with an oven, a piece of equipment. There were ashes on the floor and a few partially burned limbs in the oven. After months of seeing corpses piled high, the crematorium wasn’t repulsive” (101)
The book truly has all the elements: Pathos, Ethos, and Logo. It sucks you in, forcing you to experience the horror from the first person point of view. No matter how sympathetic one can be to the story of Roth’s experience, no one can truly understand unless they were there themselves. “While I was in Auschwitz, she was in school. She did homework. She ate dinner. At night she went to sleep in her bed. Sonia was even prettier now than she was before the war. But I walked past her and filled my milk can. She would never understand” (28).
Seeing the documentary of the Lecture by Irving Roth and the book Bondi’s Brother both has its advantages and disadvantages. The documentary has a lot of logo and ethos but it falls short of pathos when compared to the book. There is an intimacy that the book is able to give the reader. In the lecture, Roth seems like a natural story teller. I would have never thought that such a well spoken nice man went through such a traumatic experience. The book lacks visual. As the story is read, one has to mentally imagine everything, and everyone (It does offer pictures of certain family members). With the lecture, you still hear a story but now you see the man himself. You hold your breath as he rolls up his shirt sleeves and reveals his concentration camps numbers tattooed to his arm.
But as I said before, it is my belief that the book Bondi’s Brother is more real and vivid than the documentary of the lecture by Irving Roth. The documentary has a deeper sense of value in its visual and audio recount of surviving the holocaust but I was only truly able to make sense of everything he said by reading the book. As a reader, one travels with the characters from the beginning to the end of the ordeal. The book pulls you into the story line. It forces you to get to know all the characters so that one can better understand the pain felt when they were gone, along with the emotions he felt as he lived through the Holocaust.
Roth, Irving. DVD. Nov 8, 2006.
Roth, Irving, and Roth, Edward. Bondi’s Brother. Williston Park, NY: SHOAH
EDUCATIONAL ENTERPRISE 2004.
The World at War: Genocide, 1941 – 1945. Narr, Laurence Olivier. Thames Television, 1973.