A beautiful book

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    • #31891

      Thank you for bringing this book to me. I loved the way the graphics mirrored the text, lighter and darker pages, the snow, the remarkable whimsy of hot water bottles with which Krug juxtaposed the seriousness of her subject, the inevitable vagueness of memory and history transformed into everyday objects and photographs. I had not taken the time to think through what it must be like for contemporary Germans to reckon with the past beyond the silence I’d come to think necessary to live with such a treacherous history. I’ve always forgiven the every day men and women for not fighting back – alas, my students always ask why the Jews did not fight back, and I grant the Germans and Hungarians and the rest of the collaborators the same grace fear and self-preservation demand. Are we not greeted with friends and neighbors who believe in ideas we may find preposterous? How powerful must the Nazi call have been when faced with more visceral suffering. (And, what does this demand of us in comfort today?) Krug’s need for her family to have stood blameless seemed unfair to me. Yet, I say this with no history of my own. My grandparents shared little of their parents’ lives, and we have only sketchy details of their flights from Russia (maybe my great-grandfather played violin for the Czar?) and Poland (how many of their relatives stayed behind and were lost to the fire?). My friend Edie is obsessed with her family tree, growing firmly in the hills of Kentucky. Does it matter from whom specifically we come beyond our collective histories? This book helped me see one woman’s answer to that question, and I am grateful for the day spent sharing the journey. I will take much longer to assess what it means about my own.

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