Tag Archives: Holocaust history

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)

2 Comments

Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, World History, World War II

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

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Lorri's Blog, Novels

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels

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

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/permission.

8 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, World War II

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

5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, World War II

Book Review – The Marriage Artist

The Marriage Artist: A novel, by Andrew Winer, is an incredible literary feat, in my opinion.

The novel is a a brilliantly composed saga of two stories that alternate within the pages. It is a book with broad and deep expanses, beginning in current times, and sweeping back to Vienna, beginning in 1928.
The stories blend magically, with the magnificent word-imagery of Winer.

In the present, we have Daniel Lichtmann, a well-respected art critic. His positive, stunning and admiring critiques of the native American, Blackfoot sculptor, Benjamin Wind, has made him (Wind) famous.

The novel opens with the bodies of Wind and Lichtmann’s wife, Aleksandra, laying on the sidewalk in front of a New York City apartment building. By all accounts, it looks as if they plunged from the terrace. From there, the suspense begins, as the reader is taken on a trip through time, as Lichtmann tries to discover whether his wife was having an affair with Wind, whether they committed suicide together, or somehow fell off the terrace.

Daniel is committed to uncovering what actually led up to the tragic event. Through is efforts, he uncovers information regarding his wife, information he didn’t know. He also uncovers information regarding Wind, his background and his artwork, and how his own critique of Wind’s last exhibit may have been far-removed than the actual reasoning behind it.

The next chapter begins in 1928, a time of uproar and persecution towards the Jews, with ten-year old Josef Pick, as he visits his grandfather Pommeranz, in the less than desirable Jewish section of Vienna. The Pick family has converted to Catholicism in order to avoid the repercussions of being labeled Jewish. While there Josef becomes enthralled with his grandfather’s business of creating ketubot (prenuptial marriage contracts) for those who are looking to have a creative and ceremonial document of the groom’s rights and responsibilities concerning the bride.

Josef’s father is with him, and much to his dismay, watches as his son tries to create a ketubah of his own. The final result is one that brings awe to his grandfather Pommeranz, and causes him to use Josef’s talent to earn extra money for his own needs and debts. What transpires after that is nothing short of incredible, as the reader is taken on Josef’s journey of artistic development and creation with his amazing talent, one that brings him recognition in the world of art. Winer infuses the pages with the defining imagery, defining moments of the ravages of war. The journey continues through Josef’s adult life, through the days of the Holocaust and the antisemitism spewed at the Jews.

The story line had me thinking about the title, and alternate meanings. Aside from a ketubah, a marriage artist could be one who is creative in their own lives, one who tries to manipulate their marriage. A marriage artist can also be one whose exterior is superficial and contrary to their innermost feelings. After all, an artist is not just one who paints, draws, creates beautiful documents or etches on paper. An artist can be defined as so much more than that in the realm of daily life.

The Marriage Artist moves forward and moves backward in the time continuum, and in history’s darkest hours. I was engulfed in the book, and could not put it down. I read it straight through, except for small breaks to eat, etc. I was mesmerized and absorbed with Winer’s use of beautiful and sensitive language. It was so beautiful that I was in awe of his prose. There were moments that I was emotionally caught up in the folds of this page-turner of a story.

Andrew Winer is masterful at telling the tale of The Marriage Artist, and brilliant at blending families together. It is a lovely, sensitive and poignant story, one filled with the affects of assimilation, love and loss, and effects of lives caught in the maelstrom of evil, leading to an epiphany towards redemption.

The novel is one of educational and historical value. The drama and the intensity that is displayed is something that I feel should not be missed. It is a compelling read. I highly recommend The Marriage Artist to everyone.

November 26, 2012 – 12 Kislev, 5773

All writings, photographs, etc., are my own copyright (unless stated otherwise), and may not be used without my permission.

Forgive the update, I had to correct something that I missed.

5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Novels