The Fiftieth Gate - the Last Days

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History alone is too factual, memory alone is too personal. However when these two are combined they are then able to paint a holistic image of a certain event, situation or personality. Mark Baker in The Fiftieth Gate and James Moll’s The Last Days both represent the experiences of the Holocaust through the bringing together of historical documents and personal memories in order to show the importance of interplay between them.

By merging personal experiences and historical events Baker, when he describes the trip to Treblinka, is representing a common experience shared by the Jewish people. He uses the poem ‘Written in pencil in a sealed railway-car’, to express the collective memory of the Holocaust through the use of an incomplete sentence. “here in this carload i am eve with abel my son cain son of man tell him that i...” The cut off, of ‘tell him that i’ alludes to the way the Jewish people were treated during the Holocaust. It reflects the idea that the Jewish lives were too, cut off. By referencing ‘Eve, Abel and Cain’, the first family to exist on earth, Baker creates universal meaning to represent a shared collective memory of their transportation to the camps. The mistreatment they received during the Holocaust is further portrayed through the use of factual information while retelling Leib’s experience at the camps. “...a pair of shoes, with no consideration for size... a collective locker which contain their sole person possessions: a metal bowl, a pot and a single spoon”. The cumulation of historical facts that Baker adds to Leib’s memory allows the reader to gain a total insight into this event. Its shows the little possessions they own while the lack of shoe size shows the neglect they received and the careless attitudes of the soldiers in the camp.

The Last Days, directed by James Moll, also expresses the idea of a collective memory through the interplay of both history and memory to give a complete understanding of the events during the...
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