Good Neighbors, Bad Times

Good Neighbors, Bad Times

by Mimi Schwartz
Good Neighbors, Bad Times

Good Neighbors, Bad Times

by Mimi Schwartz


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Mimi Schwartz grew up on milkshakes and hamburgers-and her father's boyhood stories. She rarely took the stories seriously. What was a modern American teenager supposed to make of these accounts of a village in Germany where, according to her father, "before Hitler, everyone got along"? It was only many years later, when she heard a remarkable story of the Torah from that very village being rescued by Christians on Kristallnacht, that Schwartz began to sense what these stories might really mean. Thus began a twelve-year quest covering three continents as Schwartz sought answers in the historical records and among those who remembered that time. Welcomed into the homes of both the Jews who had fled the village fifty years earlier and the Christians who had remained, Schwartz heard countless stories about life in one small village before, during, and after Nazi times. Sometimes stories overlapped, sometimes one memory challenged another, but always they seemed to muddy the waters of easy judgment.

How, this book asks, do neighbors maintain a modicum of decency in such times of political extremism when fear and hatred strain the bonds of loyalty and neighborly compassion? How do we negotiate evil and remain humane when, as in the Nazi years, hate rules?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803217676
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 949,404
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Mimi Schwartz is the author of five books, including Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed, available in a Bison Books edition, and Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (with Sondra Perl). Her essays have been widely anthologized and six of them have been Notables in Best American Essays. A professor emerita at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, Schwartz teaches workshops in memoir and creative nonfiction nationwide and abroad.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Author's Note xiii

Part 1 Close to Home

1 Treadmill to the Past 3

2 Anonymous Translation 8

3 At the Nachmittag 17

4 Kaffeeklatsch 24

5 Joie de Vivre 35

6 Four Stories of the Torah 48

7 The Revolving Room 59

Part 2 An Ocean Away

8 Off the Record 75

9 A Little Respect, Please 95

10 The Good Raincoat 102

11 Hedwig, Fritz, and "Schtumpela" 113

12 The Second Generation 122

Part 3 Back and Forth

13 Willy from Baltimore 139

14 Five Kilometers Away 151

15 Katherine of Dorn 164

16 Truth Transposed 175

17 What Willy's Neighbor Says... 177

18 The Red Album 180

19 Where Legend Ends 193

20 At My Father's Grave 203

Part 4 End Points

21 The Other Miriam 213

22 Three Little Girls 221

23 Yes or No? 234

24 The Celebration 243

Acknowledgments 259

Discussion Questions 261

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