Culture, Identity

WTF is wrong with people?

Taking a page from the Jewish Museum’s Nazi bondage fetish playbook (I’m referring, of course, to the Mirroring Evil exhibition), The Holocaust Council of MetroWest brings us the latest and greatest in Holocaust youth education:

Join Livingston architect and educator Stephen W. Schwartz and use 50,000 LEGO blocks to build a 400 square foot model of the Warsaw Ghetto, the scene of one of the greatest and most inspirational Jewish uprisings during World War II. Please wear socks and be prepared to get down on the ground for this unique, educational experience.
Recommended for ages 6 and up – Adults must accompany children
Sunday, November 5, 2006
Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus
901 Route 10, Whippany, NJ

Oh, golly!
You know, when I think about the senseless slaughter of 10,000,000 innocent Jews, Roma, queers, political dissidents and other undesirables, I think LEGO. Because the sheer shock and stupendous horror of history’s most brutal, horrid genocide are so effectively communicated by children’s toys.
Say what you will about Zbigniew Libera’s LEGO concentration camp (pictured at right). It at least is presented in a context which gives way to discussion, whether on the position of the Holocaust in popular culture, the marketing of violence to youth, or even the participation of mainstream German corporations (the proprietors of popular household brand names) in the Shoah. It’s supposed to be controversial.
Six year-olds reconstructing the Warsaw Ghetto with LEGO as an educational activity? That’s senseless and tasteless.
They say that Purim is a taste of the World to Come, for in The End of Days the world will be turned upside down: Reality will be inverted. I used to think this was a good thing — that, in the End of Days, the truth of G-d’s oneness will at last be revealed. But then I considered a different interpretation — the notion that rather, in the End of Days, the truth itself will be stood on its head: Reality will be inverted. In that, in some ways I see Purim as a prophetic warning against the abuse of language, or Orwellianism — the parlor tricks of the Grand Vizier. You know, things like calling imperialism democracy. Or describing a climate of exponentially increasing terrorism as being “safer.” Or, hell, saying that turds smell like roses. We all know they don’t.
Which is all just a roundabout way of saying, it makes me ill to see people trivializing the Shoah in the name of commemorating it. I can just imagine the board meeting that rubber stamped this abomination. Seriously… WTF?
Via Modia:

One of the key issues in Judaism today is the centrality of the Holocaust not just as an historical tragedy, but as a set of religious practices. Unfolding at the intersection of civil religion, media and consumer culture, the public commemoration of the Holocaust can be a highly ritualized event. Mirroring Evil can be a good way to engage students in a discussion of the “rules and rites” of representing and commemorating the Holocaust.

Clearly gym socks and LEGOS will send the appropriate, sanctified, and transformative message to our children about the severity of the Shoah. It’s just like playtime…
I sincerely pity any child whose parent thinks its appropriate to bring them to this event.

24 thoughts on “WTF is wrong with people?

  1. I guess the haredim were on to something when they decided the most proper response to the Holocaust was to rebuild their lost Torah institutions.

  2. Great post. I did bring my kids to build Jersusalem (Old City) with this particular Legomaniac…but I ain’t shlepping them to build the Warsaw Ghetto. I’d rather they not have so much fun with genocide. That said, as a Lego kid myself, I remember that there were quite a few Lego sets that had genocidal themes. I played with European colonists who slaughtered the Native peoples of the Americas and I had the Crusader warriors Legos – complete with crosses on their shields as they went about spreading the Good News via the sword. Lego Nazis and Jews is a logical next step…but the company chose wisely to skip over recent history and instead invest in Legos that colonize the moon. Take a look at both the Lego and Playmobil catalogs to see what I mean.

  3. Does it come with little (dead)people like most lego sets come with? Maybe you get a set of wheels to add to carts to carry out your dead little people!
    They will probably sell them at Ikea though as I recall the owner has a bit of that in his family.

  4. Wait, so you’re ok with the concentration camp but not the warsaw ghetto? you’re not ok with them building something that teaches jews about resistance? i’m not following your argument…

  5. By the way that was in the Jerusalem report about 4 years ago i remember showing it to my teacher at school.
    Also there is a Hello kitty doll with the Hitler mustache and face… nothing new i think they have been around for ages such LAME humourisms are lame….

  6. WTF? STUPID JEWS! I hate fucking Holocaustism.
    The Torah is the centrality of Judaism, preferably lived under Jewish sovereignty in Medinat Yisrael, and not Auschvitz or Warsaw. If they want to learn to resist and fight for Jewish rights let them join the IDF.

  7. cole: i’m okay with a non-jew making a piece of controversial art that we can then shred to pieces. i’m not okay with jews memorializing the shoah by playing with legos. and appreciate as i do jewish resistance, i would rather six year olds learn what it means to fight oppression in a more substantial and effective manner.

  8. I like this effort. I would take my daughter to it. I wonder how many of those who oppose it (Mobius) actually have kids.
    Back in Israel, we got subjected to pornographic movies from an early age, the filled us with loathing- loathing of holocaust commemoration. I strongly oppose the shoah-ism often prevelant. But this effort seems worthwhile to me. It feels like a great way to give kids education they can touch with their fingers, walk around in, have a pleasant experience with. And yes, making education pleasant is effective. Even when the topic is unpleasant.
    It just occured to me that this would be a good idea for anti-occupation activists to mimic. Build the Rachel’s tomb area in Bethlehem out of legos – with the six meter high wall, the checkpoints, little lego civilians waiting to get into Jerusalem, little settler nuts with guns, the whole shebang. Wow.
    that middle paragraph – I’m being serious.

  9. I grew up in the Metrowest Federation area that is sponsering the event. While it may be jarring to think about little kids building the Warsaw Ghetto it raises another interesting more general question. How do we do effective Holocaust education for kids? In my experience children’s Shoah education is often contentless, always sad and depressing and for the most part ineffective in conveying some of the fundamental lessons of the Shoah. This seems to be an attempt to engage children in learning abut the Shoah in terms they can understand and through a medium they can relate to. Would I recommend this type of things for a purely adult audience? No. I’m curious to see the reactions.

  10. You know what? I learned stuff from books. I know I’m over the hill and walked to school three miles in the snow with no shoes and all, but books worked.
    My Hebrew school teachers, as much as we tortured them, taught us about the Holocaust without using Play-Doh or Lincoln Logs. My grandmother and I went to Yad Vashem.
    Even if we want to cater to some misguided notion that children have no attention span and are in need of constant entertainment, there are movies and documentaries, there are books for younger kids that can be read out loud.
    Not only is this unnecessary and tasteless, it turns the site of some of the worst horrors of the 20th century into a place to play, a thing to have fun with, a sterilized plastic version of genocide.

  11. This is giving little children the wrong wrong impression. How could you take something like this and make a toy (????!!!) out of it ….hay I know lets make a lego series to rebuild the twin towers and make planes to crash into them(sarcasticly).
    It is disgusting and I fully intendt to write a strong letter to the lego company. People dont care because it was a crime mainly on the jewish people and hatred for us still survives, so it is easy to see how a horrific thing could be possible. Iam so disgusted i dont even have words. We should be teaching children through words experience and books about the horrendous malicious and disgusting things to ever happen. Not have htem re create it with toys. UGH!

  12. As someone who has been teaching H. for 26 years, my favorite tool is dumbo the elephant, the disney film….but THIS?!!!!! THIS SUCKS.
    It doesn’t teach kids anything. This has been discussed with major educators and all of them are upset but afraid to rock the boat. I don’t believe in Holocaust porn, either. There is at least one children’s book that is true that does a great job and it’s written by Roman Kent. It’s called My Dog Lala and you can get it online from Teacher’s Discovery
    At least it’s a real story about real things told by a real person and it moves children to understand that love and loyalty and important.

  13. this is outrageous! the next instalment i supose for ”lego ”is build new york and the towers and have big airplanes poking out and tiny little dead people all over with tiny little arab terroists flying the planes,so the kids can learn all about the horror of 911-and realy get the feel of that day
    sick sick sick!-i wont be buying legos for any-one anymore..
    tricia jerome

  14. SO why do we need to educate little kids about the holocaust – isn’t middle school soon enoguh? I know I’m treading on dangerous gound here, but I just don’t see the need to start telling first graders about the Holocaust. I think this whole idea is flawed fom the bottom. Sure you can talk about why some people don’t like other people – that’s where the conversation starts – with something that the child can grasp without being terrified that someone’s going to come inthe night and do a roundup.
    Little children cannot get the idea of the Holocaust. They’re too concrete intheir thinking. Training elementary scholers about the holocaust is a way to instill fear, not a way to educate against hatred. It replaces legitimate teaching about mediation, problem solving, and bullying, which they can grasp, having most likely seen it or done it themselves.
    HOlocaust lego? I’m sorry. no. Vile.

  15. This article is bunk, sorry.
    There was a peice of art made using the medium of Lego depicting the holocaust. Someone with a sick sense of humour designed a box for it, and published that joking “it’ll be on sale!”.
    Lego is as much an artform as cinema, pencils or clay are.
    Lots of people have jumped on the outrage bandwagon, including the writer of this article.

  16. As a high school teacher of 13 years (and with MS Ed in the neurology of learning) I don’t think this idea is crazy at all. I think Libera’s use of lego is much more sinister. Using tactile objects to create a physical representation allows participants to get a feeling for it. I don’t see anything trivializing about it. Survivors participated in this, and found it valuable. Just because its legos doesn’t mean its “fun”.
    That being said, I am not in favor of Holocaust education for kids under junior high, and even then, it needs to be handled with intense care and thought at every step of the way. One of my own childhood traumas was being shown “Night and Fog” at age 8. A lego experience would have been far more appropriate.

  17. the holocaust is not something to be made a game of. this totally and completely disgusts me! im seriousely speechless that someone would even consider this. children aren’t going to get the right impression of the holocaust. they’re going to think that it is some game! AND ITS NOT! im so offended.

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