by Dave Sim, with technical assistance by Lou Copeland
(from The Beat, 26 November 2014)
Holiday Reading -- Okay not maybe the most chipper reading, but you’ll be thankful for life after you read it. Dave Sim's Judenhass (literally "Jew hate") a harrowing, sensitive look at anti-Semitism and its horrific result in the Holocaust is now being offered for free at the website and via the Sequential app for iPad. Sim may be one of our more controversial comic masters, but no one has ever denied that he's a comics master, or that he's a master of emotion and composition, both evident in Judenhass, along with his historical research...
(from the Panel Works! blog, 28 November 2014)
...Dave Sim's Judenhass, a short comic about the Nazi Holocaust, and the history of the hatred of the Jews leading up to it, has been released, for free. You can get it as a PDF from the link above, or for free from Sequential's app for Apple devices. Judenhass is a remarkable work, and packs a powerful punch. It made Neil Gaiman cry, apparently, and I did too. I urge you to read it, and have a hanky to hand.
The remarkable thing about Judenhass is that it places the events of the Holocaust (or, to use the Hebrew term he prefers, the Shoah) in historical context, with many quotes from a range of public figures in and around the time of the Shoah, painting an absolutely clear picture of the ambivalence and tacit support of the majority for the Nazi persecution of the Jews, and the indifference to the plight of the refugees. He also traces the roots back further, to Martin Luther and others, and there's a good set of notes at the back discussing which quotes were and weren't chosen. (Interestingly, Shakespeare, author of "The Merchant of Venice", doesn't get a mention in the comic or the notes.)
As a good illustration of "evil", this is superbly done, and important. The evil of the Shoah was not carried in isolation by a separate group of Nazis, while we looked on in horror, but was carried by many, many small evils - apathy, unwillingness, indifference - by all of us.
Sim is careful in his use of words. He rejects "Holocaust" for "Shoah", and "anti-semitism" for "Jew Hatred" (the "Judenhass" of the book's title). This clarity is vital in dispelling the many little evils around the events of the Shoah, just as it is now, in the half-truths about immigration, trickle-down of wealth, etc. etc. that permeate the news today. And he uses the comic form splendidly to reinforce his point, letting the streams of words and pictures rub up against each other uncomfortably, with the words (and a few "foreground" portraits) being overlaid over images of the prisoners in the camps, often panning out in a gruesome tease, such as the hands grasped around an instrument being revealed to be calipers dragging an emaciated body by the head towards a furnace. In themselves, the images are shocking (I'm crying again now as I type) - set against the words and portraits of the great and good, the effect is incredible... [Read the full article here...]