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*This is not a book review, but a film review (and a rant rolled into one).

I went to see Labyrinth of Lies with Peach on Wednesday. If you’re interested in how the world came to know about what happened at Auschwitz, this movie has the scoop. I’m not going to lie, it is in German; but they kindly provided English subtitles for those of us who do not speak German.

Of course this being the case, the cast are German… which means that they are all unfamiliar faces. But I promise you, you will never forget their faces. It is my opinion that they couldn’t have picked a better cast, and I applaud them for their brilliant work. It has been 70 years since the end of WWII, and it is as painful and heartbreaking today as it was then, it’s just not as close – and I live in New Zealand. For these actors who had to grow up in the shadow of what happened, I cannot imagine how difficult or important this film was for them.

I used to read The Diary of Anne Frank every year, but I don’t think that I have read it in a decade or more. It broke my heart to see how much hope she had, even near the end. It has been so long since The Diary of Anne Frank was published, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was only a momentary reminder. In New Zealand, and Australia we have ANZAC day (often commemorated at Gallipoli as well), which is an annual memorial for all our fallen service men and women. But it’s not enough, we are starting to forget. Not just here in New Zealand, which is almost literally the end of the world, but globally; we are starting to forget what happened under the NAZI regime.

We absolutely cannot forget. It is so important that we not forget. If we forget, it will happen again. Does it really matter that the next time it won’t be Jews, because we’ll always be a bit touchy about what happened to the Jews? To be honest that has nothing to do with it. So we remember that Jews were persecuted, great. Do we remember how it started? With a slow campaign of misinformation. Hitler didn’t get into power by saying: ‘Hey, look I just really hate Jews. They make me sick. Vote me in and we’ll get rid of them.’

We sure as hell can’t go back and change history; and even if we could and it saved lives… I don’t think that it would have ended it there really. I say this because knowledge is power, and I’m watching it begin again. I see what pops up in my Twitter feed: posts about how America would be so much better off without Muslims and Mexicans.

Let me tell you something, being white and not Muslim does not make me better than anyone. Quite frankly I’m not better than anyone. I may be a better writer than my brother, but he’s a skilled electrician – I don’t touch that stuff, it’s not my area. So you see, you can be better at something; but you cannot be better than anyone else.

I’m going to quote one of my favourite authors; because I really just can’t say it better. Most of the story is set in 1793, in New York State, and this quote is from a discussion that the English school teacher had with a Native American.

… it is also true that the Europeans are here and will not be sent away.

Sara Donati,  Into the Wilderness

It applies now, though perhaps we need to be more clear. Countries to day have citizens from all walks of life and from all over the world, they are here and they will not be sent away. Nor should they be. We are global citizens, and we need to learn to live and let live.

This is why Labyrinth of Lies is so important!
It shows us the aftermath of the war. Whether an entire country could be quite so blindsided now as Germany was (people did not even know what Auschwitz was), what with the internet and global media…

Do we want to look back and wonder what our fathers and uncles may have done to people, simply because they were different? Do we want that for our children? For our children’s children?

Labyrinth of Lies will tell you all of this, as it relates to the aftermath of WWII in Germany – and so much more eloquently than I ever could. And it will break your heart, because we forget. And we mustn’t ever forget.

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