1941 by Slavko Goldstein
Kirkus Star


The Year that Keeps Returning
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A chilling personal account of the deep-seated terror and ethnic violence underpinning the puppet state of Croatia during World War II.

In a memoir that came to light thanks to the attention of Belgrade-born poet Charles Simic, who offers an elucidating introduction here, Croatian editor and historian Goldstein, born in 1928, not only recounts his intimate grief resulting from the murder of his father by the fascist Ustasha thugs that came to power with Croatia’s “independence” in 1941, but he encapsulates the ongoing anguish of the multiethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia that are still convulsed by sectarian hatred. With the encouragement of Hitler—who suggested to the Ustasha chief that in order for Croatia to become a stable state, “it would have to carry out a policy of ethnic intolerance for fifty years”—the Ustasha regime was bent on “cleansing” the Croatian state of Serbs as well as Jews and Gypsies. Goldstein’s father, a prosperous Jewish bookseller, had communist and intellectual connections, and thus several strikes against him in the views of the fascists, who first imprisoned him in the Danica concentration camp, then the formidable Jadovno death camp, before he was systematically executed. The author was barely 13 years old at the time, but he was shocked into adulthood quickly, especially as he witnessed the betrayal of former friends and colleagues. With his mother imprisoned and the author moved among different homes, Goldstein and the remaining family eventually joined the Croatian partisan fighters camped out in the forests. In this riveting narrative, the author often refers to the recent Croat-Serb ethnic violence in an attempt to explain how “modern Croatia has not been freed from this disease, and it is only in the last few years that it has begun to be treated for it.”

A stunning work that looks frankly at the “roots of evil.”

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59017-673-3
Page count: 640pp
Publisher: New York Review Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2013


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