ONE GENERATION AFTER
To convey the truth of the holocaust in its totality...(the writer) must add as well the silence left behind by millions of unknowns...One cannot conceive of the holocaust except as a mystery, begotten by the dead." As in the novel, Beggar in Jerusalem (1969) and other works, Wiesel gropes in the lengthening shadows to understand -- his own kind of death at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, the death of millions and all he had known, the meaning of individual and Jewish survival. Again his approach is deliberately scattered -- fantastic dialogues with the dead and his own abstracted awarenesses; mythic appearances, real and apocryphal from camps, liberated Europe, Russia and Israel. And among the threads of Covenants sealed and broken, individual Jews restate a heritage: the prince-beggar riding forth to meet Death; an Israeli "atheist" commander who nonetheless felt "we were on our way to keep an appointment" in Jerusalem; defiant Jews dancing in Moscow streets. To be a Jew today, insists Wiesel, is to "testify. To bear witness to what is and what is no longer." He denounces young Jews (and Germans) who will not take account of the fact of yesterday's evils. ("Without Auschwitz there would have been no Hiroshima.") Wiesel's tales, lectures and commemorative griefs are moving, penetrating, often raspingly excessive -- the result perhaps of attempting an honest stance before the inexplicable.