DOUBLE IDENTITY: A Memoir by Zofia S. Kubar


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A well-written and insightful memoir of a Jewish woman who escaped the Warsaw ghetto to survive on her wits and blond hair on the Aryan side. The book's strength and uniqueness lie in the fact that Zofia Rubinstein--who purchases and assumes the identity of Zofia Sielczak--does not live in hiding. She puts flower in her hair and a smile on her face to brave the constant threat of civilian black-mailers, Polish police, and Gestapo who routinely sniff out Jews and ship them to oblivion. In terms of the cat (German), mouse (Jew), and pig (Pole) symbolism of Art Spiegelman's Maus (the post-Wiesel standard for Holocaust literature), Zofia is not so much a mouse wearing a pig mask as an all-too porcine mouse. There is subdued but sustained terror here, yet the dramatic double-edge is dulled by Kubar's reveling in Aryan looks and Polish culture. The Jewish heroine here is merely a socialist of Jewish ancestry. For 25 years after the war, this Warsaw Ghetto escapee continued to live in the shadow of the death camps, still suppressing the Rubinstein name that she found ""jarring to her ""refined ear."" Zofia is no less of a Holocaust survivor, but this memoir is about an identity that was not merely doubled, but folded over.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux