What's it about?
John Halder: it really sucks to have a Jewish bff in 1930's Germany.
What'd I experience?
I’d always thought I would have probably already seen everything about the Holocaust with the countless documentaries and books that I’ve gone through. But I was pretty disappointed in myself after realizing that I’d never thought about one particular group of people. The Germans. What I am referring to is all the ‘good’ citizens that faced a government that soon would make them go against a population that they believed to be jeopardizing their culture.
John Halder is a man faced with a seemingly endless list of sh*t to deal with, add on the Nazi party’s invitation and Jewish best friend - welcome to 1930’s Germany. It’s understandable that people wouldn’t take into consideration small details about John’s life, like his depressed wife and mentally ill mother. It is easier to ignore those things when the reference people get of John would be his status as an upper-middle class man who seems blessed to not have been Jewish.
Everyone is selfish, some more than others, but I can’t imagine myself not desperately seeking for some sort of normalcy when my life is as hectic as John's. John is a weak man. He has a wife yet his eyes linger too long on his 19 year old student, Anne. Given that his wife, Helen, is incredibly depressed it isn’t hard to fantasize about how easy life would be with Anne. See John sees that as an issue of high priority, because it affects him directly. John isn’t Jewish, he isn’t being threatened and ridiculed everyday for his beliefs or the way he looks, and so it leaves room for more superficial issues to take over his mind. Having a Jewish best friend is almost ironic, because it's clear the intention is to give John a companion that would offer direct insight about the dangers of being different. Instead it seemed to highlight just how little John was worried about an entire population being exploited versus choosing to change his wife for a newer model.
As sad as it is to realize just how weak a man can be, it can also be eye opening to see these other facets of people I personally have always generally demonized. I feel the need to say I realize that what these people did is absolutely evil (the Germans) - but, it would also be ignorant to ignore that what they made wasn’t only fueled by hate, but desperation. Whether it was to be accepted and part of a group or something like John’s case - where he just wanted to be part of something uniform - unlike his chaotic life.