Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

Due to time constraints, a lot of highly interesting topics flit by without coverage here. I would have liked to write something about the various recent plagiarism scandals.

I think the uniting strand in all the cases--journalists and historians who copy other people's work--is morally vacuous personalities with deadlines to meet. You have to file a column tomorrow, or turn a manuscript in three months from now, and you haven't done your fieldwork or research? Just copy someone else's work, and hope no-one notices. In the background,a convergence is taking place between journalism, scholarship and entertainment. Stephen Ambrose used to be a respected historian, turning in a book every few years. Then one of his books hit the best seller list, large sums of money began to be involved, and he started turning in a book a year. The pressures become extreme.... Its paradoxical, but: the more money, the less scholarship. Which relates to another insight I've expressed here, that the larger the budget, the worse the movie. Money changes everything....

I can be reached, as always at jw@bway.net.

Jonathan Wallace

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will also respect that. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with your name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.

Hello Jonathan,

Last month I went to Poland to visit Auschwitz/Birkenau. While I was doing my research I came across your 'Auschwitz Alphabet' which seems like one of the most thoughfull internet sites on the subject.

I'm an amature photographer and here is a link to some of the photographs I took in Auschwitz (http://www.igoraronov.com/gallery/list.php?exhibition=16). It will be an honor if you take a look at it or use any of these images on your website. You can also link to the this album if you wish. I'd appreciate if you give me a credit if you decide to do so. I've found it to be inappropriate to sign my name on the photographs in this particular case.

Anyways, you site is great. Thank you for you great work!

Igor Aronov

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Is Auschwitz Alphabet a book or journal compiled by you or a loved one? I came upon it when I was trying to find out what the chemical Zyklon B was and what it did. I was horrified to put it mildly and so saddened that any person had to endure something so horrific. I will come back again to read more parts of it but it is very unsettling to read very much at any one time. I only wish I had the power to bring those who suffered back but I can't. I can and will pray for them.

Theresa Tober

Hello Jonathan,

I wanted to thank you for creating the Auschwitz Alphabet. I just finished looking through your website. It is truly a great work. As I was reading, I was brought back to Auschwitz, which I visited in April, 2000.

Visions and memories came back to me. I remember seeing the torture cells with various scratches on the walls....names, crucifixes, words....I remember the story of Maximilien Kolbe, the priest who begged the SS to take him to one of the cells instead of the man who was chosen (a man with children who was crying and begging not to taken to the cell); the SS agreed and the priest was locked up and starved to death. After the war, this man went to the cell every year to pray and thank the priest for helping save his life. I believe he died in 1999...the tour guide who brought me around Auschwitz and when we got to the room with the suitcases piled to the ceiling, she told me that a few years earlier, when she was giving a tour, an older gentleman starting crying and screaming and pointing to his suitcase with the name on it at the top.......the stories are endless. I will never forget them.

I am not Jewish, but I visited Auschwitz after reading about the holocaust and several of Primo Levi's books. I truly believe every person should know about this horrible part of history and remember it. Thank you for taking the time to create the site; hopefully, many people will learn something from it.

Best Regards,

Giulia Falsetti

Dear Mr. Wallace:

"An Auschwitz Alphabet," has truly educated me more than any book, movie or documentary every has. As my grandfather is an Auschwitz survivor, I have always tried to learn more and attempt to understand what he had gone through. Of course, I will never know what it was like for him, but I have certainly learned a great deal about things I had never known. The stories are horrifying, though I am pleased there are websites such as this that help to inform so many people of what exactly took place in Auschwitz, so it will never happen again. Again, thank you for such an in depth lesson.


Nadine Zuckier


I've read through your site for a few months off and on, and I have to say, it was great.

I am a 21 one year old guy... I guess you could call me a Holocaust historian, cause I own a lot of books from survivors and have read a lot as well. At one point it was so depressing that I started crying infront of my parents just thinking about it.

Just writing this now brings back the memories. I live in Canada and am not Jewish, or religious. But, the Holocaust is just as important to the Jews as it is to every living man in this world. Sigh... it is true that I said I would never read another book about the Holocaust for a few months, but I've managed to get all interested again by researching everything I could find about Adolf Hitler. To be honest I've noticed myself become less and less motivated to do stuff... and have started to feel gloomy.

Keep up the good work on the site, and feel free to reply.

Dear Mr Wallace,

I wonder if you could compile your monthly issues of ES into downloadable PDF-Files for us people who like to read them offline or print them out? That would really be helpful!

Sincerely, Florian Battke

Great idea! But I don't have the time. If a reader would like to volunteer, the help would be gratefully accepted.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re your writings about filtering software:

Children do NOT have rights when it comes to the internet and it's AGENDA. We as PARENTS are RESPONSIBLE for PROTECTING our children from certain things on the internet that CYBERSITTER helps us with. YOUR AGENDA is NOT helping kids or parents. Who knows what YOUR REAL AGENDA is. People like you HIDE behind kids.

Wayne Griffith