Belonging Reflection

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    • #31775

      I have to admit that “Belonging” is only the second graphic novel I have read. We started reading “Maus” in my Holocaust and Genocide Studies class last year. I actually found it ironic that both books chronicle the story-gathering process and deal with multi-generational themes and challenges, albeit from very different places.

      I have a real interest, as do my students, about how the Holocaust is taught in Germany and how Germans have reconciled with their past. I found “Belonging” very interesting. As a history teacher, I appreciated learning Nora’s process in gathering information about her family, using primary sources, particularly the use of phone books from the time of the war. I did not know that by 1940 Jews were listed as a separate category in the phone book and just a few years later the section had disappeared.

      The theme of guilt (shame?) that ran throughout the book was sad. Nora comments that those feelings carried with her when she traveled to other countries, how she was always conscious of her German accent. These sorts of emotions seem like they could be crippling and she is two generations removed from the war. I wonder how widespread those feelings are among the general German population. I had a German foreign exchange student a few years ago. She really struggled with our Veterans’ Day assembly, as her grandfather was a pilot in the Luftwaffe. I wish I had had the courage at the time to ask her more about her feelings.

      I wasn’t aware of the term “Heimat” before reading the book. I can see how it would be an important concept to anyone. I can’t help but think about the Jews who did survive the Holocaust, but their “Heimat” was destroyed, having to start over, most likely in another part of the world, that may or may not become their new “Heimat.”

    • #31788

      Shame and guilt — pretty deep and difficult to shed. It makes me want to read/hear what Brene Brown might say….when I travelled in Germany, long before I understood much of anything about the Holocaust, I now know I must have asked uncomfortable questions to my host family and friends.

    • #31798

      I also was very interested in Nora’s research process, and thought the use of phone books very creative. I also hardly ever read graphic novels – any “graphic” I read is usually nonfiction, like John Lewis’s March trilogy.
      I can also kind of relate to Krug’s self-consciousness. There’ve been times in my life when I travelled to other countries that, if needed, I planned to pretend (sometimes I was advised to pretend) that I was Canadian, for various reasons.

      • #31812

        That’s so very interesting about traveling as “Canadian.” I definitely have tried to hide my “American” appearance at times in other countries, too, or at least blend in as best I can with the culture. I also read non-fiction almost exclusively.

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