When I first heard about Larry David’s attempted Holocaust humor on “Saturday Night Live,” I was appalled.
But I withheld comment—hoping, in vain as it turned out—that he would quickly realize he had crossed a line and try to make amends for his stunning act of insensitivity.
Mr. David is a talented writer and comedic genius. I shall always be grateful to him for the countless hours of sheer joy watching “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The humor, sometimes wonderfully edgy, somehow still managed to stay within the boundaries of decency.
But his iconic place in American life cannot shield Mr. David from the criticism he fully deserves for his dating fantasies in a Nazi death camp. Clearly, his life in Hollywood has been far removed from the stark realities of Mauthausen.
Otherwise, he might have thought twice before appearing on camera the other day.
This has been a challenging year for those committed to preserving Holocaust memory and its contemporary relevance.
Not only are denial, ignorance, and relativization persistent problems, but there have also been some unanticipated whoppers of late.
First came the shocking omission of any reference to Jews in the official U.S. government statement on January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Moreover, when this was pointed out to the White House, no correction ensued.
Then came the inexplicable discovery that the new national Holocaust monument in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, neglected to mention Jews or anti-Semitism in the inscription. How could this be?
Further, there was the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson rewriting history by claiming that the USSR, not Bulgaria, saved nearly 50,000 Jews from deportation and extermination. This was a total fabrication. Holocaust history, it appears, is up for grabs as a cheap political weapon to be used as deemed fit by some nations against others.
And then there was Larry David’s vulgar banalization of the Holocaust before countless millions of viewers, dragging it into the sexual gutter of bad taste.
Mr. David, I have a girl for you.
Her name is Mila Racine. Born in Russia, she moved to France at a young age. When the war broke out, she was only 20 and full of life. She soon entered the resistance. Her assignment was to smuggle Jewish children from France to neutral Switzerland.
She was caught by the Nazis and, after being interrogated by the Gestapo, deported to Ravensbrück. From there, she was sent to Mauthausen.
Mr. David, perhaps you had a girl like her in mind when you went off the deep end on “Saturday Night Live.”
I never had the chance to meet Mila, but I doubt she would have been captivated by your advances.
She was too busy trying to stay alive, to keep from starving, to stay warm in winter, to avoid the lascivious eyes of the Nazi guards, to fend off the lice and other vermin, and to summon the strength to perform the daily slave labor.
Alas, she was killed shortly before the war’s end. She was my cousin. Somehow, I can’t imagine she would have found your segment remotely amusing.