Blogs, Bio, Conversations with Naomi, Book Reviews

05 September 2011

Thoughts on my book by David Shire: We Never Lost Hope: A Holocaust Memoir and Love Story

This book is not the usual holocaust novel or memoir - and it's not even the usual love story;
but, rather, this book is a conversation, a dialogue - between the main characters: Edith, Mendi, Kurt, and Nate and some silent interviewer.

We are sitting-in, listening to these intimate conversations -  not able to actually participate - but we discover our characters as they really are - not necessarily a polished and edited performance - but something very honest and human.

The dialogues start before the war - the dreams and aspirations of that generation - but slowly the scenes change as the Nazis occupy Europe and the lives of the Jews change forever.

The changes are subtle at first - maybe a little relaxation of the religious dietary rules (Kashrut) - as the real need to eat and the widening food shortages - makes practical (and permissible) demands.
The whole transitory nature of life during these times - moving village or even, moving country was a necessary survival tactic - always looking for a better place to live.

Finally the family are transported to a concentration-extermination camp;
the atrocities; of these places can never be imagined - only fleeting glimpses in the dialogue allow us to begin to understand these horrors.
And the need to survive - by any means.

The war ends and Edith is liberated.
Despite all that she has experienced she makes the very conscious decision to get on with her life.
Munich, Paris, and ultimately to America

Despite the underlying sadness of the story, there are some relaxing moments;
on the Orient Express from Munich to Paris - Edith is up all night long kissing some soldier she met, while in the next compartment Mendi is sleeping away - real vignettes of very real people.

We live today, in a completely different world. I discovered these people through the grace of Social Media - so far removed from the Europe of 70 years ago. However, despite the fact that we do live in this newer world, I still feel very connected to these past times and to my Jewish people.
How much easier it is today, to find a lost relative through Twitter or Facebook.

I can imagine two parts of this story having direct interaction with my own past:-

Edith and Nate stop off in Scotland on their way to America. My Grandfather was very involved in the Glasgow Jewish community and, especially, involved himself with helping the refugees escaping Nazi Europe, maybe he went to the airport to meet them, to invite them home for a meal?

My father grew up in London, but during the "blitzes" of the City, my paternal Grandfather decided to evacuate my Grandmother and the two children to Sydney, Australia. Maybe, at some time, my father went to visit the rabbit farm and buy some wool.

But we'll never know.

David Shire 
Israel
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