Sixteen Holocaust survivors describe returning to Germany after the war in von Treuenfeld’s (Israel, 2018, etc.) work of oral history translated from the German by Siegal-Bergman.
The familiar narrative of the Holocaust is that it marked the end of Jews in Germany. Those who managed to survive settled in America or Britain or Palestine. And yet this view does not represent the whole story: When the war ended, some Jews returned to Germany. After all, it was their home. “How could they bear to come back to this country?” asks von Treuenfeld in her introduction. “To the country where relatives and friends were killed, and…futures were destroyed. The country that also wanted to kill the 16 women who I—in search of an answer—have asked to tell me their life stories.” This book profiles women like Bela Cukierman, whose family fled Germany east through Poland and—by way of the Trans-Siberian Railroad—all the way to Harbin, China, and then Shanghai. After the founding of Israel, nearly their entire community was shipped there, but the German-speaking family couldn’t adjust to the already crowded country and returned to Germany. Renée Brauner’s parents kept her alive by fleeing to Yugoslavia, Italy, and Switzerland, settling in France after the war. Ultimately, they returned to Germany when she was 7. Others spent time in the Americas, and many were at least temporarily in Israel. But all found themselves back in a Germany that was quite different than before—though one that was still far from welcoming. Von Treuenfeld is an invisible presence on the page, and the book is compiled as though each woman is narrating her own story uninterrupted. The personalities and underlying trauma shine through the anecdotes, as here when Brauner describes the prewar residence of her father: “His sister had lived on the floor above. The woman who had lived there since then knew that my aunt was taken away with her two small children. That was on Reclamstrasse. When the Wall fell the building was torn down.” The book is a brilliantly composed account of a very different sort of diaspora and return. Each of the 16 strands is haunting and heartbreaking in its own way. The result is something quite distinct from the usual Holocaust memoir: a book that scrambles the very notion of a homeland and the ties that bind us to one.
A vital, understated contribution to the body of Holocaust literature.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)