Haunted by his parents’ horrific suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, Lev Raphael grew up loathing everything German. Those feelings shaped his Jewish identity, his life, and his career. While researching his mother’s war years after her death, he discovers a distant relative living in the very city where she had worked in a slave labor camp, found freedom, and met his father. Soon after, Raphael is launched on book tours in Germany and, in the process, redefines himself as someone unafraid to face the past and let it go.
Bookmarks, “Top Ten Nonfiction Titles of 2009”
|Publisher:||University of Wisconsin Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Lev Raphael has spoken about his work on three continents and has been publishing fiction and prose about the Second Generation for more than thirty years—longer than any other American author. His nineteen books include The German Money, Writing a Jewish Life, and Dancing on Tisha B’Av. He lives in Okemos, Michigan.
Table of Contents
Prologue: A Tale of Two Trains
Part One: Haunted House
Part Two: Mysterious Jews
Part Three: Voyage of Discovery
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lev Raphael is the author of 19 books. He is regarded as a "pioneer in writing about the children of Holocaust survivors." He is one himself. His mother and father both survived the Holocaust. Raphael was born in America after his parents emigrated from Germany after the War. He told himself he was never going to go to Germany. But this changed when a book tour for one of his books translated into German was planned by the German publisher. With two other books in German to follow before long, Raphael decided to go to Germany to publicize his cosen field of abiding human and historical interest to a German readership. The book however is actually only incidentally about Raphael's book tour. This is little more than an explanation for why he was in Germany in relation to his thoughts about why he didn't want to go to Germany from his parents' treatment there. The book tour also provides the book's chronology. But the chronology itself isn't important either except as a kind of binding for the varied material. Reading the book is like watching different panels of scenery moved on and off a stage. The different panels are Raphael's personal experiences and memories; family memories, mostly of his mother and father, told to him as with oral tradition; historical facts and scenes of the brutalities of the Holocaust (like ones seen in documentaries) and vignettes of Nazi Germany; and vignettes of today's changed Germany. These aren't simply woven together, or the book would be simply a memoir. It's more than a memoir though: it's a sad remembrance of what the author knew happened to his parents (as well as millions of others) and a true account of personal change, and in this coming to the hard-to-admit realization that the past does not and should not define the present.
A child of Holocaust survivors comes to terms with postwar Germany. At first I couldn't see his point. Aren't we all living in the shadow of the camps? Is whatever country we identify with blameless because it hasn't yet or hasn't recently done anything quite so horrific? And what's with all the travelogue and details of book tours? What I was missing was how personal it is for close relatives of those who suffered, making the book's quietly growing affirmation of humanity all the more remarkable and excellent.