Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why I Read

I was bouncing along through a mostly light and highly enjoyable book last night, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows when I struck upon this description one character gives to another of a German work camp during the German Occupation:

"Thousands of those men and boys died here, and I have recently learned that their inhuman treatment was the intended policy of Himmler. He called his plan Death by Exhaustion, and he implemented it. Work them hard, don't waste valuable food stuffs on them, and let them die. They could, and would, always be replaced by new slave workers from Europe's Occupied countries. Some of the Todt workers were kept down on the Common, behind a wire fence- they were white as ghosts, covered in cement dust; there was only one water standpipe for over a hundred men to wash themselves. Children sometimes went down to the green to see the Todt workers behind the wire fences. They would poke walnuts and apples, sometimes potatoes, through the wire for them. There was one Todt worker who did not take the food- he came to see the children. He would put his arm through the wire just to hold their faces in his hands, to touch their hair."

And that is where I put the book down and wept.

I cried for things that have happened and for things that will happen one day.
I thought about unbearable circumstances that others have faced and wondered when I might face one in my lifetime.
I vowed to hug my children more the next day, and cherish the small freedoms I enjoy.


Rachel said...

What a beautiful passage. Books do open up things to us that we would have never considered; and sometimes in such an amazing way. It can be all in the words. I also loved the way you described how you were "bouncing" through a book...I know exactly what you mean and I appreciate your word choice!

belinda said...

Please read "Night," by Elie Wiesel.

Becky said...

I've already read Night, as well as quite a few other books that either focus on the Holocaust or have it as a mighty background player. One of my other favorites (of the latter category) is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.