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A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, A Search for the Truth

A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, A Search for the Truth

by Rita Gabis

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In prose as beautiful as it is powerful, Rita Gabis follows the trail of her grandfather's collaboration with the Nazis; a trail riddled with secrets, slaughter, mystery, and discovery.

Rita Gabis comes from a family of Eastern European Jews and Lithuanian Catholics. She was close to her Catholic grandfather as a child and knew one version of his past: prior to immigration he had fought the Russians, whose brutal occupation of Lithuania destroyed thousands of lives before Hitler's army swept in.

Five years ago, Gabis discovered an unthinkable dimension to her family story: from 1941 to 1943, her grandfather had been Chief of Security Police under the Gestapo in the Lithuanian town of Svencionys, near the killing field of Poligon, where 8,000 Jews were murdered over three days in the fall of 1941. In 1942, the local Polish population was also hunted down. Gabis felt compelled to find out the complicated truth of who her grandfather was and what he had done.

Built around dramatic interviews in four countries, filled with original scholarship, and mesmerizing in its lyricism, A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet is a history and family memoir like no other, documenting “the holocaust by bullets” in a remarkable quest as Gabis returns again and again to the country of her grandfather's birth to learn all she can about the man she thought she knew.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620401293
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
File size: 14 MB
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About the Author

Rita Gabis is an award-winning poet and prose writer. Her grants and fellowships include a New York Foundation for the Arts Award for creative nonfiction and residencies at Yaddo and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is the author of the poetry collection The Wild Field (Alice James Books). Her work has appeared in Harvard Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in New York City.

Table of Contents

A Note about the Text xiii

Maps xiv

Prologue: Two Dreams xvii

Part I

1 A Small Thing 3

2 Faye Dunaway as an Invaded Country 8

3 Word Gets Around 23

4 Bad Student 27

5 It's Oprah's Fault 33

6 Introductions 39

7 Fathers and Sons 43

8 An Education 48

9 Aunt Karina's Pancakes 59

10 War 64

11 This Kind of World 68

12 A Good Get 81

13 Our Anne Frank 86

14 The Human Heart 103

15 Water 106

Part II

16 Yitzhak Arad 111

17 Animals 116

18 Mirele Rein/High Holidays 131

19 Chaya Palevsky née Porus 141

20 Messenger 146

21 Lili Holzman 152

22 Poligon 162

23 Day of Mourning and Hope 171

24 Arturas Karalis 175

Part III

25 Lost 183

26 Planners, Diggers, Guards, Shooters 194

27 Devil in a Glass Jar 216

28 The Translator 221

29 Railroad Town 225

30 Elena Stankeviciene née Gagis 233

31 Bucket 236

32 Devil's Auction 240

33 Lucky Bird 243

Part IV

34 Bad Man/Good Man 251

35 Shooter 267

36 Inside/Outside 269

37 A Game of Life and Death 280

38 Mistakes 286

39 Anton Lavrinovich 296

40 Josef Beck 302

41 Illeana Irafeva 306

42 Work 310

43 Jump 320

Part V

44 January 2014 329

45 Šakotis 331

46 Gone 345

47 Given Back 353

48 Robin Fish 358

49 Witnesses for the Prosecution 361

50 The Company We Keep 365

51 Only God Knows 371

52 Memory 378

Epilogue 391

Acknowledgments 393

List of Illustrations 399

Notes 403

Bibliography and Archives Consulted 425

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