Gives a voice to the neglected Mischlings (half-breeds) and provides a significant record of both wartime and postwar...

DIVIDED LIVES

THE UNTOLD STORIES OF JEWISH-CHRISTIAN WOMEN IN NAZI GERMANY

Sensitive oral histories of the suffering of Hitler’s tainted Aryans, products of mixed marriages.

As reflected in her bibliography, Crane (English/Raymond Walters Coll.) is more concerned with the biographic genre than the WWII period. Her account should not be compared to Holocaust memoirs, like Joe Rosenblum’s recent Defy the Darkness, where starvation, suicide, sadism, and murder are common. Once expectations are lowered, this Fulbright scholar’s oral histories of eight women who suffered “only” shock, anxiety, and lesser persecution may be appreciated for their less dramatic but still disturbing subtleties. The subsequent chapters and interviews grew from Crane’s own family history. Her Lutheran grandfather, Felix Cohn, had Jewish genes, so his medical license was revoked and he fled Germany in the 1930s. Typically, the Gestapo encouraged divorce and made life miserable for the remaining “impure” Aryans. In the 1950s, the author’s father changed his surname to Crane and, also typically, didn’t reveal the family’s checkered pedigree for decades. Most of the interviewees had their identity and their prospects overturned in one shocking moment when the Nuremburg Laws mudslide struck. Crane more than records these women’s pained stories of exclusion and mistreatment; she depicts the sadness in their voices and eyes, and in each apartment’s telling books and photos. Ruth Wilmschen, for example, brings copious notes to read at her interview, and meticulously divides her photos between Jewish and Christian relatives. We come to understand why these women are paranoid of any form of nationalism, and why issues like reparation money and the Turkish foreign presence in Germany are daily concerns. One woman enthuses about Jesus sightings, and almost all of them were baptized, but Crane makes her subjects “Jewish” and human enough.

Gives a voice to the neglected Mischlings (half-breeds) and provides a significant record of both wartime and postwar Germany.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-21953-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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