Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jewaicious Review – The Emperor of Lies

The Emperor of Lies: A Novel, by Steve Sem-Sandberg is quite the ambitious undertaking, and filled with exceptional, emotional and horrific captures of history. The book has left me for weeks unable to totally formulate a review due to the unimaginable content.

The novel revolves around Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski and his dynamics within the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during World War II. His actions have been debated, applauded and also detested throughout the decades. His motivations have been questioned. Sem-Sandberg brings us depictions of the man and his dynamics within the demeaning setting of the ghetto environment.

Rumkowski was the Jewish Elder, and, in his mind, the ruler of the Lodz Ghetto, with the power to make decisions regarding the Jewish population within the ghetto walls. From the children, the aged and the disabled to the strongest of adults, Rumkowski held their lives in his hands. He tried manipulating the system to save lives at the expense of others, and also to his advantage, always eager for recognition and admiration. His decisions portrayed a man who valued the strength, power and total control in life, and the strong were the worthy ones. He drove the steering wheel within the harsh, horrendous and brutally demanding life within the ghetto. He controlled every minute detail.

He made decisions as to whether one would live or die, and some see him as a savior for his thinking process, yet others see him as a brute, a man possessed with demons of his own. He seemed to me to be a man who did not have a deep regard for humanity, although he would probably state otherwise. His decisions forced men, women and children into labor (labor that was exchanged for life, labor that demanded long hours and hard toiling), and the end result was that the majority of those individuals eventually succumbed to the harsh environment or being deported and finally murdered by the Nazis.

Rumkowski felt and thought that if he had factories built and organized a workforce, that the ghetto would be productive and keep the Nazis from sending the Jewish population to an ultimate death. He seemed to have the mind of a manic personality, from the way Sem-Sandberg describes his actions, with him being euphoric one minute, cruel the next minute, and a man with extreme narcissism, and quite the tyrant.

Every horror imaginable fills the pages of The Emperor of Lies, every minute devastation and form of demeaning and degredadation of humanity, and every depiction of a man crazed with the thirst for power fills the pages. I was riveted and overwhelmed by the haunting depictions.

He felt he had it all, and that his life was one of importance to the Nazis. He was so possessed with his ideas and arrogance that he never imagined the final outcome for himself, just like those 250,000 before him…

Steve Sem-Sandberg has written a historical novel like no other. The Emperor of Lies is so much more than a novel, it is a stunning and historical novel filled with extreme visuals and documentations that were heavily researched. the intensity of the story is compelling, leaving one to wonder, in the end, what was the reasoning and desire in Rumkowski’s mindset. Was he friend or foe? Did he intentionally save lives or destroy other lives under the guise of saving others? Was he a savior or was he a villain in a plot in which he was a co-conspirator? Steve Sem-Sandberg leaves it up to the reader to decide for themselves through his masterful and brilliant writing.

In my opinion The Emperor of Lies is a major piece of Holocaust Literature and a masterpiece. I highly recommend it to everyone.
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I personally own and have read this book.

February 20, 2012 – 27 Sh’vat, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

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

Sunday Scenes February 19, 2012

It is time for Straight Out of the Camera Sunday! It is also time for Shadow Shot Sunday 2. The photograph above was taken last week, unbeknownst to my two grandies. I liked how they were wrapped up in thoughts and shadows.

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

February 19, 2012 – 26 Sh’vat, 5772

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Jewaicious Sky

It is Skywatch Friday! For more sky photography from around the world, visit here.

The upcoming Jewish Photo Bloggers Carnival (JPiX) on March 12, 2012, will by hosted by Ilana-Davita. If you have a post to submit, you can learn more on the JPiX page.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Enjoyment at Lake

Yellow Canoe

Today is Watery Wednesday. It is also Outdoor Wednesday and also Nature Notes Wednesday.

Oh, let’s not forget ABC Wednesday. While we are at it, let’s include Our World Tuesday.

Visit all of the blogs to see more photographs from around the world.

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

February 15, 2012 – 22 Sh’vat, 5772

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Jewaicious Review – The Diary of Petr Ginz, 1941-1942

The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942, written by Peter Ginz, Edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger, translation by Elena Lappin is extremely poignant, compelling, insightful, astounding and inspiring!

Petr lived a short sixteen years, but his life was filled with artistic flair, to the very end. From writing to drawing, painting and editing a newsletter, he filled the last years of his life with identity, courage and creativity. That we are able to read these diary entries is amazing in itself, as they were only discovered recently, in February of 2003.

It is difficult to review this book, because of the circumstances surrounding the diary. It is reminiscent of another diary, that of the young Anne Frank.

Petr’s outlook on life, the Holocaust, the Jewish condition, his family and friends is all documented within the diary’s pages. The documentation lasts up to the time he was transported to Theresienstadt. We are given snippets of history, ghetto conditions, devastation, humor, joy, his childish pranks, sadness and poignancy, all within the framework of a teenager’s voice. Near the end of his life, his thoughts and emotions show a strength and maturity beyond his years. Petr was part of the Jewish condition that he so sincerely and faithfully wrote about.

His intense diary entry regarding the time when he receives notification of his impending transport to the Theresienstadt concentration camp is overwhelming to read (and, it was written while in Theresienstadt). While there for two years, he continued to write, which is, in itself, a testament to the endurance of the young teenager’s brilliance of mind, and of his almost innate and continuing need to put words to paper. How one so young could have written what he did under such duress is incomprehensible.

Petr Ginz’s diary will long be remembered by me, his words ever beautiful and filled with symbolic references have touched me extremely deeply. This is a must read for every age group. I highly recommend The Diary of Petr Ginz.

I personally own and have read this book

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Sunday Scenes February 12, 2012

Here are my photographs for Straight Out of the Camera Sunday, and for Shadow Shot Sunday.

Harbor and Shadows

Fence and Shadows

The Skirball Cultural Center has a project entitled Pearls of Wisdom: End the Violence on view through February 26, 2012.

The Getty Center has an exhibit of Lyonel Feininger’s photographs.

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

February 12, 2012 – 19 Sh’vat, 5772

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