DISPLACED PERSON by Marie Halun Bloch


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The twist in this grim and often heavy-handed war story is that 14-year-old Stefan and his widowed botanist father have fled to Nazi Germany to find freedom. One step ahead of the advancing Red Army, the Wasylenkos, Ukrainian nationalists, crisscross eastern Germany holing up in refugee barracks and waiting for the American occupation. The Yanks finally do arrive with their chocolate bars and chewing ""goom"" but not before Stefan sees his father killed in an air attack and is himself evacuated to a displaced persons camp in the U.S. zone where the young boy, who secretly longs for the familiarity of authoritarian, Soviet ways, must cope with the ""growing terror"" of ""utter freedom."" It takes the treachery of a friendly Russian officer to force Stefan's hand, making him renounce Communism and retrieve his father's ""legacy"" (and symbol of freedom)--an illustrated manuscript on Ukrainian plantlife which is hidden in the Russian sector. Although Bloch is not half bad at describing Germany in its death-rattle days or the sub-subsistence level life of the refugees, the rather startling paradox of the Reich as refuge is never explored or, for that matter, even commented upon by any of the characters. Still more disturbing, the one and only scene involving concentration-camp survivors pictures them as whining stool pigeons ready to report the refugees to Soviet authorities. Evidently the only kind of dehumanization which concerns Bloch is the Communist kind--yet Stefan's turnabout from stolid little Stalinist to mature civil libertarian is so perfunctory that even as a rites-of-passage story this doesn't seem worth the trek.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1978
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard