There is no doubt that Nazi Germany was a haunting place to live in the wake of the Holocaust. Bernhard Schlink addressed these hardships in his 1995 novel “The Reader” and through lectures in Boston last week.

“The Reader” personalizes the Holocaust by illustrating the turmoil of a man who is in love with a woman who commits a monstrous crime.‚  Many Germans who lived during the Holocaust dealt with the same struggle.‚  Furthermore, those who were born in the next generation struggled with the guilt of these crimes.

“I think those who commit monstrous crimes are not monsters,” commented Schlink at Boston‚  University.‚  He discussed the presence of the Holocaust in today’s world saying that, “for my generation the past is still very present.”‚  He continued with saying how, “future generations can learn from the Holocaust.”

Schlink said confronting the past is important to‚ prevent equally devastating events in the future and recognize the onset of such events in the present.‚  Although today’s generation, the third after the Holocaust, does not feel as much guilt as its predecessors, the past continues to have a presence in Germany.

“Historical events are always unique and always comparable,” said Schlink.

In The Reader the main character’s, Michael Berg, dilemma falls between love and justice.‚  Eight years after a love affair with an older woman, Hanna, Berg is a law student witnessing Hanna’s trial. She was a Nazi guard.‚  He is in a moral battle between what is lawful and what is moral.‚  Many people found themselves in‚  this situation during the Holocaust.‚  Although, many people do not find themselves in the extreme situation that many of the Nazi workers found themselves in – a unique historical event – moral battles transpire daily.

Despite the necessity to confront the past Schlink clarified that, “fixation on the past is the flipside of the past.”‚  He demonstrates this in‚ Berg, he is a man who does not appear to find happiness throughout his life and is fixated on his love affair with Hanna and her crimes.

Director Stephen Daldry accurately portrays the emotional turmoil of post-Nazi Germany in his adaptation of Schlink’s novel.‚  The many layers of the novel are present throughout the film, which portrayed the struggles and guilt of the Holocaust and post-Holocaust German generations.‚  When a film student asked Schlink what he thought about the movie, which was released Jan. 9, he concisely responded, “I liked the movie.”

Originally, Anthony Minghella had the rights of “The Reader”, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.‚  Eventually he let Daldry and David Hare make the movie.‚ ‚ ‚  “The Reader” was nominated for four Golden Globes.‚  Kate Winslet won Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.‚  The film has been nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Directing, and Adapted Screenplay.

About The Author

Kristen Gard is a Blast Magazine correspondent and Certified Personal Trainer. She is the founder of Ace Boot Camp in Jacksonville, N.C.

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