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No news from auschwitz

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“No news from auschwitz” by Abraham Michael Rosenthal

The extract under analysis represents the article taken from the “New York Times” and written by a well-known American columnist Abraham Rosenthal. He was born in Ontario, Canada, but moved with his family to New York City when he was four.  For many years he served with distinction as the executive editor of the “New York Times”. When he “retired,” he began a column for the Times called “On my mind.”

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            In 1958, when Rosenthal was the “New York Times” correspondent in Warsaw, Poland, he visited the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

  At that time, fourteen years after the camps were liberated at the end of World War II, mention of the atrocities of the concentration camps had virtually disappeared from American newspapers. There was “no news” to report from those sites, and Americans seemed all too willing to put the ugly memories behind them. Rosenthal’s piece for the “New York Times”, “No News from Auschwitz,” served as a powerful reminder of the dangers of forgetting what had happened in the death camps.

  It has been reprinted many times. In November 1959 the polish government expelled Rosenthal for his “problem reporting,” for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in May 1960.

            Rosenthal’s article “No News from Auschwitz” is an example of objective reporting, written in publicistic style. Instead of giving his personal opinion and feelings towards Auschwitz, as in a subjective report, he explains in detail about the prison, prisoners, and tours they now give, in an actual sense. It expresses the location of Auschwitz prison, and the prisoners who suffered there. And his article also explains the people who witnessed a tour through the prison, and the horrors they saw – “Brzezinka is a couple of miles from the better-known southern Polish town of Oswiecim.

Oswiecim has about 12,000 inhabitants, is situated about 171 miles from Warsaw, and lies in a damp, marshy area at the eastern end of the pass called the Moravian Gate. Brzezinka and Oswiecim together formed part of that minutely organized factory of torture and death (metaphor) that the Nazis called Konzentrationslager Auschwitz”; “The visitors look pleadingly at each other and say to the guide, “Enough.” So, as we can see there a lot of facts and witnesses of that “most grisly tourist center on earth” (hyperbole).

Another indicator of publicistic style is the reiteration of the same idea, the idea of terrifying and frightening events that happened there – “And so there is no news to report about Auschwitz. There is merely the compulsion to write something about it, a compulsion that grows out of a restless feeling (metaphor) that to have visited Auschwitz and then turned away without having said or written anything would somehow be a most grievous act of discourtesy (metaphor) to those who died here. The guide does not say much either, because there is nothing much for him to say after he has pointed. There are visitors who gaze blankly at the gas chambers and the furnaces because their minds simply cannot encompass them, but stand shivering before the great mounds of human hair (metaphor) behind the plate-glass window or the piles of babies’ shoes or the brick cells where men sentenced to death by suffocation were walled up.”

The author points that visitors could hardly understand all the horrors that the prisoners experienced in Auschwitz. It’s difficult to talk about it but it’s also difficult not to feel all prisoner’s suffering who were there. The setting of the barracks, the chambers, and the dungeons make very oppressive impression – “Into the suffocation dungeons the visitor is taken for a moment and feels himself strangling. Another visitor goes in, stumbles out, and crosses herself. There is no place to pray in Auschwitz.” The author underlines that every person experiences that depressive and hopeless atmosphere. This all proves the belonging of the text to publicistic style.

The general aim of this style is to exert a constant and deep influence on public opinion, to convince the reader or the listener that the interpretation given by the writer is the only correct one and to cause him to accept the standpoint expressed in the article not only by logical argumentation, but by emotional appeal as well. Generally it’s achieved by use of words with emotive meaning, the use of imaginary, and other stylistic devices as in emotive prose – “it all seemed frighteningly wrong, as in a nightmare” (comparison); “factory of torture and death” (metaphor); “last batch of prisoners was herded naked” (metaphor); “a compulsion that grows out of a restless feeling” (metaphor); “a most grievous act of discourtesy” (metaphor); “row of faces stare from the walls” (metaphor); “one picture, seized the eye and wrenches the mind” (metaphor) – through these stylistic devices Rosenthal describes the horror of what happened to the prisoners.

The author explains in great detail about the prison, and expresses the physical features, which back up why Rosenthal’s “No News from Auschwitz” is a subjective report. His facts are focused on the past and the present. Fourteen years later, there are now tours through the remains of Auschwitz – “another visitor goes in the suffocation dungeons, stumbles out, and crosses herself”; “one visitor opened his mouth in a silent scream simply at the sight of the boxes” – through this he expresses the shock of the tourists and their fear of what happened to the prisoners.

The composition of this extract can be logically divided into four parts: The exposition (the author introduces readers to his first impressions of Auschwitz), the specification (the explanation of the location of Auschwitz prison and the prisoners who suffered there), the development (the author describes people’s attitude who witnessed a tour through the prison, and the horrors they saw), and the outcome, the logical conclusion represented in parallel construction – the same idea was showed in the beginning of the article and its end (the beginning – “it all seemed frighteningly wrong, as in a nightmare, that at Brzezinka the sun should ever shine or that there should be light and greenness and the sound of young laughter”; and the end – “it was a sunny day and the trees were green and at the gates the children played”). The author underlines and intensifies the idea of discrepancy between the nature and the beauty of that place with the horrors of those times.

 During the whole article, the author develops the idea of unfairness of those events, the importance of talking about this terror. But then again, Rosenthal shows that it’s very difficult for the people who were there to embody theirs emotional experience into the words – “the visitors gaze blankly, because their minds simply cannot encompass”, “look pleadingly at each other and say to the guide, “enough”, “there is no new report about Auschwitz”, “there is no place to pray at Auschwitz”.

            As we see, the language of the author is very rich and full of various kinds of stylistic devices and that makes his article more vivid and impressive. Summing up the analysis, it can be said that the text seems to become a striking example of mankind’s courage, the author’s attempt to describe all the terror that happened in Oswiecim while one visitor “flushes with shame”, and the other “opens his mouth in a silent scream” not being able to express their feelings and emotions and share this experience with others. Rosenthal arouses the problem of “shame silence”, when people just so impressed by being there that can’t embody their horror in words.

Cite this No news from auschwitz

No news from auschwitz. (2017, Jan 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/no-news-from-auschwitz/

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