When I was younger, with all sorts of chaotic pre-adolescent energy to burn, I spent an inordinate amount of time creating horrific scenes of death and dismay out of my (hopelessly, irrevocably intermingled) Lego sets: Medieval knights stabbed sea-faring pirates while spacemen blasted them both with neon lasers, only to be run over by dump trucks driven by smiling city employees. Legos may be one of the most innovative, creativity-inspiring toys of the modern era, but in the hands of an 8 year old with a stomach full of sugar and a head full of Saturday morning cartoons, they can be just as violent and aggressive as any G.I. Joe play set.
With that in mind, I can’t say I’m all that surprised to hear that a U.K. high schooler has created a comprehensive timeline of the Holocaust out of Legos for a class project. Nor, I should add, am I particularly upset about it either; While the subject matter at hand may be among the darkest in modern human history, using Legos to (relatively) accurately depict historical horrors in the context of a school assignment (as opposed to – say – for funsies) is certainly a worthwhile example of the toy’s intended use: To inspire creative learning. Yes, seeing Lego’s iconic smiling yellow barrel-heads behind concentration camp fencing is jarring, but as the project’s creator, Liverpool student and Lego enthusiast, John Denno shared with Pixable:
“The biggest thing I realized about the Holocaust through making this project is just how long the persecution went on. From 1933 Jews slowly lost all their rights until they were being murdered in their thousands.”
Which is to say – He built something serious with Legos, and learned something serious in the process. I’d count that as a win, by any measure.
Here are just a few of John’s Holocaust constructions:
January 1933 – Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany
March 1933 – The Nazis open the first concentration camp
November 1938 – Kristallnacht; Night of the Broken Glass, riots that destroy Jewish shops and business. German police overlook it.
October 1941 – Auschwitz is opened. Jews from around Europe will be killed here in their millions over the next few years.
June 1944 – D-Day. Allied troops land in Normandy
1945 – As the Allied forces push through Germany they liberate concentration camps.
Check out John’s flickr album for the entire series.