Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Book review: A Crime in the Family, by Sacha Batthyany Swiss journalist Sacha Batthyany heard a disturbing rumor: near the end of the Second World War, his Aunt Margit was alleged to have participated in the massacre of hundreds of Jewish prisoners in the small Austrian town of Rechnitz. The crime took place during a party at her home attended by Nazi officers. He’s haunted, … Continue reading Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Tracing Gender and Identity, in Budapest and Beyond

Book review: In the Darkroom, by Susan Faludi Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author, and feminist Susan Faludi received an email out of the blue in 2004, from her father whom she’s been estranged from for 27 years. He informed her that he’d undergone sex reassignment surgery, and was now known as Stefánie. Shocked and intrigued, Susan rekindled the relationship, traveling to Budapest, her father’s hometown where he’d … Continue reading Tracing Gender and Identity, in Budapest and Beyond

The Lost Libraries of Europe

The portal of the Berlin City Library (Berliner Stadtbibliothek) at Breite Straße 32-34 in Berlin-Mitte. It shows steel plates with 117 variations of the letter “A”, created by Fritz Kühn in 1965. By Beek100 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons Book review: The Book Thieves, by Anders Rydell This is to a very great extent a story of dispersal – about … Continue reading The Lost Libraries of Europe

Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Book review: Dancing on a Powder Keg, by Ilse Weber In 1942, Jewish author Ilse Weber was deported from Prague along with her husband Willi and the younger of her two sons to Theresienstadt, the Jewish ghetto and the Nazis’ “model” concentration camp, trotted out as a fake village for events like Red Cross visits. Beginning in 1933 as political and social changes began taking root … Continue reading Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Updating the Legacy of a War Heroine

Book review: Lindell’s List by Peter Hore Early on in reading Lindell’s List, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to keep track of all the people who were in some way involved in the stories and narrative, whether integrally or peripherally. There were so many introduced in rapid succession, and sometimes they’d be gone just as quickly, and I got lost. I … Continue reading Updating the Legacy of a War Heroine

Ladies of the City of Light’s Darkest Days

Book review: Les Parisiennes, by Anne Sebba Anne Sebba writes in her extensive history of the lives of Parisian women during WWII that it’s our task to understand, not to judge. And the women whose lives are covered range across such a broad spectrum, from those with selfless motives and actions to those who didn’t act as honorably as might be expected. She tells the … Continue reading Ladies of the City of Light’s Darkest Days

Survival and Optimism

Book review: Bread or Death, by Milton Mendel Kleinberg It took me a little while to get into this one, but once I did, I was glad I’d stuck with it. Kleinberg wrote this account of his and his family’s experiences during World War II to answer questions for his grandchildren. I’ve read many Holocaust memoirs and there was a lot here I’d never come across … Continue reading Survival and Optimism