Are publishers guilty of ‘cashing in’ on Auschwitz?

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I find myself in Newcastle airport a lot – it’s a work thing that means I have to go up there a number of times each month. When I am there I tend to browse the book shop that populates a small corner of the departure lounge to see if there is anything interesting to add to my book collection.

Nothing strange there, I guess.

Recently I have noticed a bit of a trend – and I don’t really know if I should be worried about or not. It is a trend of a seeming proliferation of books with Auschwitz in the title. As I browsed the ‘charts’ in the aforementioned book store (I am guessing these ‘charts’ are more representative of how much of a promotional budget the publishers have with the retail outlet, rather than measuring actual sales, but hey-ho) I counted no less than 6 books that were in the current ‘best-sellers’ lists:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz, The Volunteer (a true story of a resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz), Last Stop Auschwitz, Cilka’s Journey (The sequal to the Tattooist of Auschwitz) and The Sisters of Auschwitz.

That’s a lot of Auschwitz.

As I stood there contemplating all of these titles I couldn’t help but wonder if I was witnessing the publishing industry ‘cashing in’ on a subject that clearly continues to captivate the wider public. I hope that publishers are not just jumping on the bandwagon and commissioning books with the word Auschwitz in the title just because they know they may flog a few extra copies.

If this is the case, this would be deeply disappointing as I think the subject matter deserves a bit more respect than being treated like a mini profit centre for desperate publishers trying to balance their books.

Anyone else of the same opinion? Or am I making something out of nothing?

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  • Margaret Dart

    Auschwitz – a place no one understands until you actually visit it – until your heart is ripped from your throat and you are beyond words. This place should be the ONE place everyone visits once in their lifetime to ensure a horror of this magnitude never happens again.
    The proliferation of Holocaust books? This is indicative of a recent poll (at least in North America) indicating that 25% of young people did not know what the holocaust was. What the stat fails to realize is that 75% DO! So why more books? Is it because many have forgotten the horrors and not passed it on to their children – is it the fail of the curriculum to focus on ideologies and not history – is it a generation of “all about me’s” who have focused on personal problems instead of global? Students don’t learn about the Holodomor and other genocides let alone the Vietnam and Korean wars – and the holocaust is becoming part of that “barely mentioned.”
    Maybe the issue is not that deep – maybe it is simply because it has been 75 years since “liberation” and the last known survivors are reaching the end of their time on earth….and when they die, their memories die….unless….

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