NEW LIVES: Survivors of the Holocaust Living in America by Dorothy Rabinowitz
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NEW LIVES: Survivors of the Holocaust Living in America

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Conversations with over 100 ""newborn"" Americans, Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps, interlaced and spun through events to produce a work of poetic reportage that transcends the interview-investigation format. A half-dozen key life histories build up around a grim touchstone: the 1972 deportation hearings of Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan, a Vice-Kommandant of the Maidanek camp before re-surfacing as a Queens, New York housewife. Nightmare testimony of starvation and torture, memories of less fortunate parents, brothers, and sisters--the horrors share space with adventures of escape, liberation, immigration, and settlement. From Auschwitz, Belsen, and Dachau to Kew Gardens, Kansas City, Memphis, and Corpus Christi; some American-dream overnight successes, but mostly recitals of hard-won acclimatization, perpetual restlessness, and lingering questions: Why did the survivors survive? Luck? Skill? Personality? Should the Jews have shown more resistance? Could it happen again? In America? Rabinowitz' formal, unhurried phrases and self-effacing restraint encourage us to trust her selection of representative voices, her choices between direct quotation and seamless paraphrase, and her careful maneuvers--sympathetic but wary--through the homes and minds of strangers. Only in a clumsily injected re-hash of the Eichmann controversies does the author's fierce partisanship intrude. The publisher's blurb--""A major addition to the literature of the Jewish experience""--is off the mark. The soloists may be Jews, but this masterfully orchestrated cantata is no more sectarian than the Book of Job.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1976
ISBN: 0595141285
Publisher: Knopf