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Source: Susan Karlin, Using Comics to Educate about the HolocaustCo.Create, July 19, 2013.

For several years, legendary comic illustrator Neil Adams and Holocaust historian Rafael Medoff have partnered on projects that use comics and animation to teach about the Nazi genocide.

Their first DVD–They Spoke Out: American Voices of Protest Against the Holocaust–debuts at San Diego Comic-Con with an exclusive July 19 screening and panel discussion with Adams and Medoff. Episodes can be viewed at TheySpokeOut.com, and the DVD will be on sale at booths 1709 and 1829, where Adams will be signing copies.

“We’re not throwing the Holocaust at you,” says Adams. “We’re offering a way to help American kids experience the Holocaust through these videos, so they can make their own decisions as to how deeply they want to go into further study.”

Created by Disney Educational Productions and the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studiesin Washington, D.C., it features six 10-minute motion comic episodes illustrated and mostly narrated by Adams–best known for his dynamic style and work on Batman and X-Men–and written by Medoff, the Wyman Institute director and author of 14 books. The episodes blend traditional animation and comic book-style illustrations with newsreel footage, photographs, and historical documents.

“Teens raised on YouTube, video games, and other visual media are likely to be more receptive to comic books about the Holocaust than heavy textbooks about the Holocaust,” says Medoff. “This presents today’s educators with a whole new set of challenges.”

One episode, Messenger from Hell, is narrated by former Marvel Comics chairman Stan Lee, cocreator of Spider-Man, Hulk, and the Fantastic Four.Messenger tells the story of a Polish courier, Jan Karski, who smuggled himself into the Warsaw Ghetto and the outskirts of the Belzec death camp, then risked his life to bring the news of the Holocaust to the free world. The DVD release coincides with the 70th anniversary of Karski’s meeting at the White House with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Another episode is The Dina Babbitt Story about a teenage cartoonist and future Warner Brothers animator who survived Auschwitz by painting prisoner portraits for Josef Mengele. Before Babbitt died in 2009, Adams and Medoff (along with the late comic legend Joe Kubert) attempted to retrieve her art from The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland, by auctioning original artwork by noted comic illustrators to earn money for her legal bills.

“My work with Neal Adams began when I approached him about Dina Babbitt’s struggle–she was an artist fighting for the return of her original art,” says Medoff. “Neal had led the courageous and successful fight in the 1970s to convince comic book publishers to return original art to the artists. As Neal and I were talking about ways to help publicize Dina’s cause, he said, ‘Let’s do a comic strip about it.’ The strip was called The Last Outrage and was published by Marvel. That brought a tremendous amount of attention to Dina’s plight. Then Disney Educational Productions suggested making The Last Outrage into a motion comic, which led to the They Spoke Out series.”

Read the full article.

Source: Spiegel Online International (29-5-2012)

The word “Holocaust” is not some new way to say “Congratulations” in Duckburg, home to Donald Duck and his comic cohorts. But in the most recent German translation of the Junior Woodchucks comic from the Mickey Mouse universe, that is exactly how it appears. In the episode titled “Where is the Smoke?” a dignitary honors a team of firefighters, with the German words, in the bubble above his beak, boasting of the “awards to our brave and always alert fire lookouts! Holocaust!”

The original comic, written by Carl Barks and appearing in 1972, used the word as a synonym for “inferno” or “blaze.” The duck dignitary gives plaques to the fire lookouts for pinpointing the “awesome Holocaust.”

German publisher Egmont Ehapa, which brings the Mickey Mouse comics to the country, says the mistake was not a translation error. The word didn’t appear in the translator manuscript, spokesperson Elke Schickedanz told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The mistake came up during production, when the English text in the word bubbles was not thoroughly removed, she said.

The comic book, which was supposed to appear on May 8, was promptly recalled. The word “Holocaust” was blacked out by hand and the new edition should be available in stores this week. There were still a few copies of the original German comic sold in May before the recall.

Donald Duck Takes On The Nazis
Schickedanz says that Ehapa is very careful about avoiding sensitive terminology. In Barks’ comic “April Fools,” a copy of Hitler’s tome “Mein Kampf” repeatedly shows up in a Duckburg trash dump.

When the publisher printed the German version it reduced the number of times that the book appears in the comic. Still Ehapa came under fire about seven years ago for translating comic books that attempted to make the horrors of the Holocaust more accessible to young readers.

It’s also not the first time that Donald Duck has been mixed up with the Nazis. During World War II the US enlisted Walt Disney, creator of the comics, in efforts using Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bambi and others to spread anti-Nazi messages. In 1984 Donald Duck was awarded the rank of sergeant by the US Army for his wartime service.

 

 

Magneto is not the only character connected to the X-Men universe whose story is rooted in the Holocaust. Also the mutant known as Wolverine goes through the experience of a death camp, that of Sobibor. The story is told in Prisoner Number Zero (Wolverine, Vol. 3, n. 32, November 2005). The mutant, nearly indestructible because of his “healing factor”, survives all the attempts at executing him and even the gas chamber. He is not to be listed among the “Holocaust Avengers”, although the camp commander, Major Bauman, accidentally dies while confronting him. Wolverine stays silent and passive, with a defiant grin on his face, while the Nazis unleash their fury, that ultimately leads them to self-destruction.

The nocturnal depiction of the crematorium’s chimney under the snow seems reminiscent of the Auschwitz sequences from Schindler’s List.

In the adventure “Night of the Reaper” (Batman, No. 237, Dec. 1971), Batman comes to Rutland, Vermont, to bring his help to Dr. Gruener, a German Jew who was deported to a concentration camp run by Colonel Kurt Schloss, known during the war as the Butcher. Schloss has allegedly been sighted in the Rutland area, and Dr. Gruener wants to find him and bring him to justice, but the Colonel is killed by a mysterious Reaper at a Halloween parade.

As it turns out, the Reaper is Dr. Gruener himself, seeking his private vengeance. He dies battling Batman when he falls off the edge of a dam. Batman is conflicted whether to hunt the Reaper or let him go. As is the case of many superheroes, Batman’s powers are rooted in a traumatic experience (he has witnessed the murder of his parents as a child), so he fully understands Gruener’s unstoppable lust for revenge.

Lastly, when a Star of David dangles before his eyes, Gruener questions what he has become. His story resonates with that of Magneto – supervillain of the X-Men whose superpowers firstly appeared in Auschwitz – and finds its place in a long tradition of “Holocaust Avengers” in comics, traced by Kathrin Bower (“Holocaust Avengers: From The Master Race to Magneto”, International Journal of Comic Art 6.2, Fall 2004: 182-19).

In the adventure “And Death my Destiny” (Wonder Woman, Vol. 36, No. 234, August 1977) the superheroine rescues from a concentration camp the two children of Freidrich, a Jewish man with psychic powers taken hostage by evil Nazi commander Wilhelm Strung.

Source: What If…Captain America Had Led An Army Of Super Soldiers In World War II (What If…?, Vol. 2, No. 28, August 1991). What if is the title of several comic book series published by Marvel Comics which explore “alternate” (and in some way “counter-factual”) histories of characters from the Marvel Universe. In Auschwitz, Captain America meets the young Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and speaks to him. His wise words prevent the arousal in Magnus of those feelings of revenge that would eventually lead to his transformation in Magneto, super-villain of the X-Men.