COMMEMORATIONS by Hans Herlin

COMMEMORATIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here is a resonant and variegated first novel of substance. Its themes are many and absorbing though it seems to be written in plunges that bring up more than it can deal with. At its core, however, is the scar left by the concentration camps. It begins seemingly by coincidence. Hans Pikola, photographer, is visited in his studio by his once famous model Christina, now wife of the industrialist Fritz Lehr. She suggests that he do the volume commemorating the centenary of her husband's huge firm and Pikola is drawn once again into a world manipulated by the wealth of the Lehrs and into a past he has never been able to suppress. There is the family patriarch, convicted as a war criminal, still capable of an energetic game of tennis; his sons, Pikola's contemporaries and benefactors, used to getting what they want; the SS doctor Boettcher--responsible for the deaths of the camp inmates in his charge--Boettcher, protected these many years by the Lehr money; Julia, one of Boettcher's victims, loved by Fritz Lehr as well as Pikola, whose child the photographer has raised. Pikola's hatred is as much a part of him as the war wounds he bears. Is it really coincidental, then, that he becomes Boettcher's designated assassin? And is it any wonder that when the moment comes to pull the trigger he is unable to do so, turning the gun instead on himself? For Pikola, the photographer who has abandoned portraits for landscapes, has become as alienated as Camus' Meursault whom he comes to resemble in his unreachableness. Not a groundbreaker, but a fine and moving piece of work.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1975
Publisher: St. Martin's