THE SEARCH: The Birkenau Boys by Gerhard Durlacher
Kirkus Star

THE SEARCH: The Birkenau Boys

Email this review


Durlacher, who died last year, completes the trilogy of memoirs of his life under Hitler that began with Drowning (1994). A Dutch sociologist, Durlacher was also a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, one of a small group of adolescents, transported from Theresienstadt in 1945, to emerge from the hellish experience alive. There were 88 other boys with him in Birkenau men's Camp B II D, and at the end of the 1980s, he began to search for them. This slender but powerful volume recounts the results of that search, culminating in a reunion of the ""boys"" at a conference of Theresienstadt survivors in Israel in 1990. Durlacher's quest takes him to Jerusalem and North America, and he brings a sharp-eyed sociological observer's skills to this story. Highly attuned to nuances of class and upbringing, he is a sympathetic but analytical listener, constantly being brought back to his own tormented memories of the camps. Repeatedly he finds himself asking the inevitable survivors' question, ""Why us, and not the others?"" Surprisingly, he discovers at the reunion that there actually is an answer to this question, albeit a disturbing one that brings little satisfaction to any of the men assembled there. Aided immeasurably by Susan Masotty's graceful and elegant translation, Durlacher has left a formidable legacy of terrible memory in this little book. An admirable addition to the lengthy shelf of Holocaust studies.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1852425407
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Serpent's Tail--dist. by Consortium