The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated to sharing facts, photos, and historical information about the unforgettable time in history. The section on children of the Holocaust has many disturbing pictures, facts about methods of death, and related links for further reading.
Children of the Holocaust were marked for immediate extermination, as they could grow up and perpetuate their race. Their survival was almost certainly an impossibility.
Over six million people of Jewish decent were murdered during the time period known as the Holocaust. Of those six million, almost two million of those victims were children. Children of Jews were seen as a liability. The Nazis' goal was to exterminate all of those people who were not of a pure, Aryan race. Children represented perpetuation of a race, and thereby were eliminated almost immediately. Children over 12 years of age were used as laborers. Children younger than working age were used in medical experiments or simply sent to the gas chambers upon arrival at any of the Nazi concentration camps. Children ceased to be children once they were loaded in a cattle car.
Author Cynthia Orick stated, "'The Shawl" represents a place where world regret and personal regret meet." Orick laments about the annihilation of the European Jews and their culture. Many years before "The Shawl" was written, Orick read a book entitled, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," where she remembered a line that has always haunted her. A baby was found in a concentration camp and was thrown against a electric fence. This idea was translated into the climax of "The Shawl." As an immigrant, she did not know personally the horrors of the Holocaust, but wishes to pay tribute to her people with her works of literature.
This story centers around Rosa, her baby Magda, and Rosa's niece Stella. Children in concentration camps know one end--death. In so knowing, Rosa determines to use her shawl to hide baby Magda. The shawl is deemed "magic," for while in it, Magda makes no sound and is content. She even sucks on it for three days instead of food and is sustained. In the end, when the shawl is not available, Magda becomes visible long enough to be grabbed up by a Nazi soldier and thrown into the electric fence for a quick and neat death. Rosa uses the shawl to stifle her cries.