Tag Archives: Holocaust history

Review: The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank: A Novel, by Ellen Feldman, is an interesting novel of the Holocaust written from the unique perspective of what might have been. It is a poignant and compelling story line, which includes haunting remnants of the first love between Anne Frank and Peter van Pels. The historical novel kept me captured through the last page.

Feldman details the historical, and little known facts regarding the diary of Anne Frank. She gives the audience a vision of “what if”. What if Peter had survived? What would his life have been like if he had survived? The flow of the story shows how the boy, Peter, grew into an adult. Feldman is extremely brilliant and descriptive in detailing his journey from child to man. There are emotional illuminations, expanding on how he developed into a man who came to hate himself, through his own guilt, denial, assimilation, new identity, and fear.

The novel leaves one to wonder whether promises made as a teenager should be kept as we grow and mature. The author analyzes that factor and how it plays into Peter’s life. The analogies in the novel are compelling, the fear often causing a catastrophe of Self, so to speak.

Peter’s attempt to forget his past, and start anew after emigrating to America, only dig him deeper into the roots he tries to blot out. He marries, has children, yet he vividly cultivates memories of his past through flashbacks, and entwines them in his mind. Some memories are real and some are imagined. All are after-effects of the Holocaust. We watch him deteriorate before our eyes, and can envision his actions through Feldman’s masterful word imagery…such as when he discovers Anne Frank’s Diary has been published.

The events that follow that discovery are a study on the fear Holocaust victims carried with them…hiding, moving, whispering, running. The book became Peter’s stepping stone backwards, forwards, and backwards again into fear and loathing.

Having read over 1,000 Holocaust books, I know that there were survivors who took the same course as Peter, in order to try to move forward with life. People do what they have to, emotionally, in order to journey through life, after emerging from a horrendous situation.

I was intrigued by the information contained in this amazing historical novel. There are scenarios regarding the events leading to the lawsuit filed against Otto Frank, disputing some of the facts that were permitted to be given creative license in the play and film.

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank might not be a book for everyone. Some people do not like fictional Holocaust accounts. I found Ellen Feldman’s writing to be brilliant, cutting to the core of emotions and logic. The book is infused with incredible word-paintings, and historical relevancy, leaving the reader with much to ponder.

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Kristallnacht – 75 Years Ago

On November 9th, 1938, Kristallnacht (an intense series of attacks on Jews fostered by the Nazi party paramilitary) became known as the “Night of Broken Glass”. The coordinated attacks on Jews continued through November 10, 1938. The glass storefronts of the Jewish-owned businesses were totally shattered, by both the paramilitary and by local citizens. The interior of Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin was destroyed, along with so many other structures.

Seventy five years later, please remember all of the victims of Kristallnacht, and of the Holocaust, during your prayer and quiet time.

To learn more about Kristallnacht, browse these links:


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wikipedia

Yad Vashem

Martin Gilbert’s Book – Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction (Making History)

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Lorri M. Review: Hourglass

hourglass by danilo kis Hourglass, by Danilo Kis, is quite the extraordinary book, especially with its location within borders of Yugoslavia and Hungary and the ongoing social issues contained in the border voids.

Within the territory, much comes to light through Kis’ brilliant writing. The overlying story line revolves around a man known as E.S., who is a railway clerk. He is stuck in time, so to speak, with his family members. Discord abounds over property, petty squabbles, and through it all he sets out to right wrongs, often not succeeding, due to his insistence on proving a point. In his last effort of writing a letter of amends, the story line is transported full force in an ironic twist.

The reader is brought out of any pretenses he/she might have had about the brutality of the constant detentions, batterings and questionings by the police. Those questions and responses, in themselves, are indicative of the forces at hand, and how a captive tries to survive through their answers given to the authorities. The descriptions are vivid and horrifying. Throughout all of E.S.’s trials and brutalities, we see him disintegrate into madness in order to cope with the events occurring, not only to him, but within his environment, as Jews are in a constant flux of terrorist happenings. His process of coping includes writing.

From forced slave labor under the most adverse of conditions, to beatings and other forms of verbal and physical antisemitism, the darkness persists, never letting up, until E.S. ends up in a state of madness, madness within the extreme madness of others around him. E.s.’s writing is a form of escape, and the reader can see that he flounders between sanity and insanity within his prose.

Kis’ word imagery is often horrific and demonstrates the atrocities that the Jews faced in 1942. Within the horrors, he does insert bits of humor, comic relief of sorts, in order to allow the reader to breathe, again. That is the brilliance and magnitude of his creative edge. What is seen as a story of one man and his family dynamics and survival, turns into a view of Jews, genocide, war, and deportation.

I found Hourglass to be an extremely dark read, a novel that delves into the mind of a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Kis inserts coping skills that turn to madness on the part of the one who is victimized. Yet, within the madness is a clear and concise truth of what life was like prewar, and what the circumstances of war atrociously conveyed on the lives of Jews.

Danilo Kis is a masterful story teller, not only telling a story, but also depicting the realities of what the Jews were confronted with. I recommend Hourglass for Danilo Kis’ endeavors to state the truth of war’s repercussions.

Danilo Kis was familiar with the ravages and horrors of the Holocaust, as his Jewish father and other family members were murdered in prison camps. His writing is indicative of the affects that his Jewishness, and the affects that his family members who perished, had on him throughout his life.

If I seem to be on Danilo Kis reading roll, I am. After recently reading Psalm 44 (the first time I read one of his books), I was captivated and astounded by his writing, and by his morality and his ability to state the truth, no matter how ugly. I have a third book of his in transit to my local library.

August 8, 2013 – 2 Elul, 5773

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Lorri M. Book Review: Psalm 44

psalm44 Psalm 44, a novel by Danilo Kis, is an example of analogies of life within the realms of pending doom and death.

The story line is extremely intense and filled with tenseness that breaks the heart of the reader, and also cements the horrific events that occurred during the Holocaust. Psalm 44 is extremely detailed with word-imagery that astounded me.

Marija, the main character is faced with the unbearable within the concentration camp, and she veers from the forces of of disbelief and denial to the realities of the situation she finds herself and her baby boy, Jan, in. She is confronted with the issues of trying to plan and complete an escape, with her baby and with Zana, her prison mate, to the issue of reuniting with Jakob, the baby’s father. Jakob is a Jew, and a doctor in the concentration camp. He is Marija’s lifeline.

Marija is in a constant state of flashbacks, flashbacks that constantly ramble on, intermingling with the present. I think that Kis was brilliant in portraying the situations of the past leading up to the imprisonment. His use of rambling self-dialogue is consistent with the circumstances Marija finds herself in.

There is a lot that is never told within the pages, and the reader has to sort those circumstances out, through underlying and subtle prose. For one thing, “Max” is the secret name given to the leader of the resistance within the camp. At times we think we might know who the person is, and at other times, we are at a loss to understand who is the actual person. It is not necessary to know, yet, the underlying hints did have me wondering.

Danilo Kis is masterful at details, leaving no minute detail unturned. His portrayal of Marija and Zana is vivid, and the reader’s senses are filled with the horrors and atrocities of their situation. Marija’s innermost feelings are prevalent and it is as if we are reading her mindset or inside her head.

Psalm 44, is a well-detailed and book and psychological study on the effects and affects of Holocaust imprisonment. The names of some individuals have been changed for the story line, although the individuals did exist, in reality. The story is filled with metaphors for life and death, survival through strength of purpose and willpower, and filled with remarkable and brutal scenarios that take the reader’s breath away. The truths are told concisely and with precision, as the author strives, quite successfully, to write with moral and ethical input.

As an aside: Danilo Kis’ father, a Jew, was killed during the Holocaust, in a prison camp, along with other family members. Kis’ writings reflect his Jewishness and social issues regarding Jewish identity.

© Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Lorri M. Book Review: Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland 1939-1945

country of ash Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland 1939-1945, by Edward Reicher, is a compelling memoir, and one that speaks forthrightly about the Holocaust and how it affected Reicher and his family.

The horrific incidents and events that took place between 1939-1945 are depicted with candor, leaving no detail undisclosed. From the Lodz ghetto to the Warsaw ghetto and all locations in between, Reicher writes about the horrors of the Jewish ghetto life, the inhumanities that the Jewish population faced and had to deal with, and the agonizing moments of family separation.

At one point he had to make a choice between his severely ill father in his house, and his wife and child back home. He chose to stay with his father, because he felt he would not be able to go on without him. He felt that his family would be able to survive, and prayed he made the right decision.

Being a doctor who specialized in skin disorders, he was forced to treat the Germans. which he did. He was not given special privilege for his efforts. Reicher literally saved Germans from the agony of skin diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhea. He did so out of duty as a doctor. He also treated other Jews who ended up turning on him, and did nothing to help him. He eventually was able to hide on the Aryan side of Warsaw, disguised and running from place to place.

Reicher witnessed a lot of abusive actions and witnessed Jews being murdered. He, himself, suffered abuse, but he writes about that in a minor fashion compared to what other Jews endured. He had involvement with Chaim Rumkowski, a man that he described as a madman, and a self-appointed “King of the Jews”. He courageously testified against Hermann Hofle, and how Hofle helped send hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths in Poland.

Reicher survived the Holocaust, along with his wife and daughter. His daughter, Elisabeth Bizouard-Reicher translated her father’s book to French from Polish, and now, it has been translated to English by Magda Bogin.

Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland 1939-1945 is not only a tribute to the strength, determination, and fortitude, but a tribute to all of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It is a tribute to those who were not Jewish, yet did strive to offer a place to hide and offer food to Reicher and/or his family. It is a memoir that honors Reicher’s daughter, Elisabeth Bizouard-Reicher’s determination to see her father’s memoir in print for all the world to read the horrors and inhumanities suffered by the Polish Jews.

Country of Ash
is intense, graphic with its depictions, and a brilliantly written account of one man’s environment and interactions during the Holocaust. It is written without flourish or exaggeration, but written as Edward Reicher witnessed events, and as he found himself involved in the many crossroads of decision and action.

It is not a book I will soon forget due to the extensiveness and intensity of the content, which makes it a difficult read. But, read, I had to, because I wanted to know the truth of his story. It is not a book I will soon forget.
May 16, 2013 – 7 Sivan, 5773

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Lorri M. Review: Where She Came From

whereshecamefrom Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother’s History, by Helen Epstein is an extremely compelling memoir. We journey with Helen Epstein as she searches for her familial past, and searches for answers regarding her family members who were murdered during the Holocaust.

The book is difficult to put down, once you start to read it. I was engrossed in this book from the first page…although it was a slow read for me, because I wanted to grasp the intensity of the generational saga, and grasp the historical facts, correctly.

Epstein
has more than proved herself as a writer in this dramatic memoir of family generations, identity, and history. We journey with her through time, through the positive and negative aspects, through the good and not so good, through the hardships and adversity. The reader is given remnants of life in a familial tapestry, through history, through the horrors of war, and how it affects all the generations, from past to present, and also how it can and will affect future generations.

From assimilating into society and racial and religious identity, to how one views themselves and what they identify with, Where She Came From is written with insight, often brutal in Epstein’s vivid descriptions. She writes with love, with yearning and the emotions of loss, she writes with clarity. Where She Came From is an extremely inspiring book.

How does one start over after enduring such atrocities and horrors? Is there laughter in your life, once again? How does the past affect the present? Does God exist? These are just a few of the questions Where She Came From leaves the reader to ponder, and Epstein pondered those issues and questions, and many more. She manages to weave a tapestry of her family, each moment in time adds to the fabric of her own identity, as she comes closer to some of her ancestral answers. We laugh with her, and cry with her, and we are inspired by Where She Came From.

Successive generations live with the past every day of their lives…it seems inevitable, and Epstein reinforces that theory through her writing. Epstein’s writing draws us in, and her memoir is intriguing, insightful and concise, but mainly it is extremely inspiring. In my opinion it is a must read for everyone, as its educational value is priceless.

Where She Came From is both compelling as a memoir and as a historical book. It is an incredible resource for schools, colleges, universities, and anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of life before, during and after the Holocaust.

I applaud Helen Epstein for such an exceptional read!

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permissio

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