“Deep curiosity, deep listening, that’s what we have to give to each other. Reading is a form of deep listening, isn’t it? Staying with something, and being affected by it." Maggie Gee
Posts tagged "Holocaust"
Knowing who the real monsters are

Knowing who the real monsters are

A crucial juncture in world history was the encounter between the Helleno-Judeo-Christian tradition on the one hand, and the new tenets of Islam on the other. It manifested itself with particularly momentous poignancy on the intellectual plane through a single concept, upon which depended almost everything that mattered: the right to existence itself, cultural, national,...
Wise parables and meaningful tales

Wise parables and meaningful tales

Specific leitmotifs dominate any attempt to weave together a narrative of the history of Romania and Hungary during the Second World War: the complex, troubled, vital historical background of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, and the emergent territorial claims of the Soviet Union; the cultural, ethnic and demographic tessellation of the region; the inalienable plexus...
The secret mission

The secret mission

In the few days that had elapsed since the ghetto was set up in the little Carpathian town of Ostrov, the Jewish Council, the so-called Judenrat, had succeeded in being neither good nor bad, but rather in being wholly naïve. Appointed chairman of the council, Mr Faivel Fischknopf was an elderly Jew with a little...
A clandestine Christmas

A clandestine Christmas

One day I went with the general 1 to the Swedish Legation to get some protective passports for his daughters. I met there a young man – one of the most handsome young men I have ever seen – in the garb of a Catholic priest. I looked at him,then looked again, and sure enough,...
The Mourners' Kaddish

The Mourners’ Kaddish

Sometimes it is very hard to put words to experiences. In Adorno’s much used (and misused) own words, “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz”; the human soul and mind can conceive of no recreation of experience, no seamless relating to, or of, life through words alone, once the humanity of meaning has been so...
Polar bears in Auschwitz

Polar bears in Auschwitz

“When I was in second grade, I found a piece of paper on my desk with the words, ‘You are a Jew’. I went home and asked: ‘Mum, what is a Jew?’ She explained that people have different religions, Christians, Protestants and Jews in Czechoslovakia. I said: ‘And we are Jews?’ The answer was a...
"I remember a macabre joke..."

“I remember a macabre joke…”

“The witnesses of the Holocaust are old and nearing death. The murder of 6m Jews… will soon be history, not memory… The new horror is that this Everest of evidence [that now exists on Nazi Germany and the Final Solution] may not be working as a warning,” wrote Bryan Appleyard on 20 January 2019 in...
Over the line

Over the line

All writers should plant sleeper agents in bookshops, to be activated when their novel starts to peep over the parapet. I am fortunate to have the wonderful Mr B’s Reading Emporium just around the corner from me, and have been receiving coded signals about my debut novel, Testament. “It’s appeared on the system!” “It’s available...
Recapturing infinity in the present

Recapturing infinity in the present

“Am I the same person?” asks Fela Rosenbloom, whose narrative of her early life in Łódź, and her internment in no fewer than six German labour and concentration camps, prefaces her husband’s longer, very different account of the 20th century. Miracles Do Happen is a joint memoir of war, Jewish life, community and identity, survival...
The truth of the lie

The truth of the lie

“The duty of art (or of thought) consists in showing us the complexity of existence in order to make us more complex, in examining the mechanics of evil, so that we may avoid it, and even the mechanics of good, perhaps so we may understand them”. This is Javier Cercas’ declaration of intent at the...