Badenheim 1939 (Short Story)

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It is the spring of 1939. In months Europe will be Hitler's, and Badenheim, a resort town vaguely in the orbit of Vienna, is preparing for its annual summer season. Soon the vacationers arrive, as they always have, a sample of Jewish middle-class life. The story unfolds as a matter-of-factly as a Chekhov play, its characters so deeply held by their defensive trivia that they manage to misconstrue every signal of their fate, until these signals take on the lineaments of disaster.

"The writing flows seamlessly...a small masterpiece."


"As real as Kafka's unnamed Prague...imbued with a Watteau-like melancholy."


"Magical...gliding from a kind of romantic realism into universal allegory."

Peter Prescott, NEWSWEEK

"The sorcery of Badenheim 1939 [lies in] the success with which the author has concocted a drab narrative involving rather ordinary characters and made their experienced profoundly symbolic yet never hollow."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NEW YORK TIMES

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First published in 1980, Appelfeld's novel depicts a small town outside Vienna whose usual summer vacationers, middle-class Jews, find themselves held prisoner at their own resort on the eve of WWII. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Set in the resort town of Badenheim, Austria, Appelfeld's 1980 novel offers a bevy of wealthy Jewish characters who refuse to believe the Nazis mean them harm, even after they are loaded into cattle cars for a one-way trip to Poland (LJ 12/1/80).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815629351
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Series: B.G. Rudolph Lectures in Judaic Studies
  • Pages: 23
  • Sales rank: 626,691
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005


    I would ignore the other review here. What makes this book so powerful and so horrifying is not descriptions of gruesome deaths at the hands of the Nazis, nor descriptions of inhumane conditions of concentration camps, etc. It is the 'unsaid' that makes this book so haunting. This story gives a different perspective of the Holocaust, one that everyone can relate to and one that makes what is happening to these characters all the more real. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2001

    the bad badenheim

    the book lacks any description of any suffering. it portrays one of the most inhumane events, yet fails to mention suffering at all. this is a disgrace and a trivialization of all the heros who were slaughtered in the concentration camps, (may they rest in peace)

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