With the Second World War passing from living memory, the Holocaust remains a subject taught as a singular event and obligation here, and Germans still seem to grapple almost eagerly with their own historic guilt and shame. That said, few German schoolchildren today can go home to ask their grandparents, much less their parents, what they did while Hitler was around. The end of the war is now as distant from them in time as the end of the First World War was from the Reagan presidency.
Paradoxically, this seems to have freed young Germans — adolescent ones, anyway — to talk more openly and in new ways about Nazis and the Holocaust. Passing is the shock therapy, with its films of piled corpses, that earlier generations of schoolchildren had to endure.
In the [newly introduced textbook,] comic ['The Search', the character of] Esther recounts to her grandchildren what happened to her family, and in the process facts emerge about Hitler’s rise, about deportations and concentration camps. Without excusing anyone or spreading blame, the story, rather than focusing on Hitler and geopolitics, stresses instances where ordinary individuals — farmers, shopkeepers, soldiers, prison guards, even camp inmates — faced dilemmas, acted selfishly or ambiguously: showed themselves to be human. The medium’s intimacy and immediacy help boil down a vast subject to a few lives that young readers, and old ones too, can grasp.
Since last fall when my son enrolled in a graphic novel English course in college, I have begun to read graphic novels or comics, including 'Town Boy,' and 'The Rabbi's Cat.' Both are very good novels which can be read relatively quickly, but must be re-read for a full impact.