The audience of my major work will be firstly experienced English teachers for marking. The story itself will be aimed however at an audience of teen years and above, preferably interested in modern history. Any readers of a younger age may lack the necessary understanding of the context of my piece, and thus may not be able to understand the decisions and feelings of characters in the piece. The story will aim to incite passionate questions of the actions and experiences of my characters in the mind of the reader, as well as an emotional response based on the life and personal experiences of the reader.
For instance, if they have experienced the death of a family member, they may identify with the emotions of my characters. Purpose/Statement of Intent After much deliberation, I propose to compose a prose fiction short story based on the experiences of fictional guard in Dachau concentration camp during WWII. I came across this idea when studying for the text “Romulus, My father” from the English Advanced course. Part of this text describes the main character Romulus and his lover Christina living in Nazi Germany, and I was reading through articles on the Internet regarding various leaders of the regime.
This led me to reading letters between various concentration camp officials and Heinrich Himmler, the then leader of the SS, and high-ranking Nazi general. The writing is so simply put that it somewhat masks the cruel and indifferent intention of the letters. After reading through these letters, I came to ask myself “How does a human being come to take these attitudes, and how could a person become seemingly so cruel and twisted, without any apparent conscience? What sort of life has this person lived, and what are their thoughts? Did they ever face struggle in their minds for the decisions they made?
” From this, I devised a perspective for a piece; the perspective of a male guard in a concentration camp. But not just any ruthless guard. I want to write about a rather troubled guard. A complex character that over the course of the piece actually begins to question the morality of his actions and thoughts. I want the reader to feel both anger towards the actions of this ‘beast’, but also at different times sympathy for his predicament. I want the reader to question their understanding of morality, and to ‘put themselves in the shoes’ of this man. Concept
The form will be fictional short story, in prose. However, I plan to include real correspondence between military officials of the camp from the time. I wanted to use this idea to give the story some real meaning, and to remind the audience that people just like my character did exist. Most of the piece will be in third person, but I will include monologues of the characters’ thought processes. During scenes of increased tension, for example when the man is ordered to shoot a prisoner, I will include in between the dialogue the thoughts of the guard himself.
This will hopefully engage the reader in the scene, rather than the reader being a ‘fly on the wall’, which would leave a wall between the reader and the characters. I would like to vary the style of language used, from short and punchy for tension and emotion to long and reflective for the monologues. Inspiration I chose to write a story on the holocaust because it is something that I would enjoy researching in detail, absorbing every scrap of information, and also I think it would be challenging to confront on my own terms.
Reading the information I have already come across, I can’t help but feel so lucky to live in a free country, and in such a privileged life. A life where I am free to do what I choose, including writing this piece. I visited Dachau concentration camp in 2003, and this experience had a great effect on me. The feelings of disgust and general confusion as to “how this could happen” has probably lead me to be so interested in studying the topic today. I will use this experience to describe the surrounds of the setting, and some of the experiences of the prisoners.
The following is an extract of a speech given by Himmler regarding the extermination of the Jews. Reading it today, I find it strange and foreign. To better understand why Himmler would take this approach to the extermination of a whole race, I will have to research the culture and attitudes of his time in-depth. Also, the ideas held by this quote is what I want to base my character’s questioning on. “I also want to mention a very difficult subject before you here, completely openly.
It should be discussed amongst us, and yet, nevertheless, we will never speak about it in public. I am talking about the Jewish evacuation: the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. “The Jewish people are being exterminated,” every Party member will tell you: “Perfectly clear, it’s part of our plans, we’re eliminating the Jews, exterminating them, ha! , a small matter. ” -Heinrich Himmler, 4 October 1943 Links to Advanced & Extension
The idea for my piece came from researching the text “Romulus, my father”, in the Advanced course. The piece will specifically tie-in with the concept of belonging in many ways. For example, my main character will be in a position where he is forced to belong to the regime, and to his position and rank. If he chooses to disagree with his superiors, or the regime itself, he will be shot. Also, nature of the holocaust relates directly to belonging, as anyone who belonged to the Jewish religion, was a gypsy or was disabled was persecuted and often killed by the Nazi regime.
The regime aimed to wipe-out all those who, in the eyes of the officials, did not fit the requirements of a pure society based on the Aryan legend. However, the piece does not necessarily link to the topic of crime writing in the Extension 1 course in any way. Research I have read many articles and letters on various websites, which have been very detailed and very helpful in giving me a broad account of events and people surrounding the Nazi regime.
However, I will need to continue to research further in-depth into the holocaust and in particular the events and nature of the Dachau camp. I also plan to read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a girl”, to further understand the experience of life in a concentration camp. This text should provide the experience of a prisoner, with which I can use to contrast the ideals and experience of the guard. Over the holidays I will make a visit to the state library to find historical diaries and personal accounts of experiences in concentration camps.