Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Books from a lost world

A few days ago, I ordered two books which mention the town of Derazhnia, in Ukraine, where my paternal grand-mother, Mania Rosenblatt, was born in 1895.

The Nazis slaughtered the whole Jewish population in that town – around 4,000 people. Today, a few typical Jewish houses from that lost word are all that remains – together with a sort of stone pyramid that marks the site, in the nearby woods, of the massacre and of the mass grave where women, men and children were thrown, one on top of the other, after they were shot, some of them still breathing.

One of those books, The Road from Letichev - The history and culture of a forgotten Jewish community in Eastern Europe, by David A. Chapin and Ben Weinstock, is a detailed account, in two volumes, almost individual family by individual family, of the Jewish inhabitants of that area.

I also ordered a book of short stories by Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem (in English, Tevye's Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem) one of which, under the title “The German” that takes place in Derazhnia (which had a very important train station)

Last but not least, but on a different subject, Maurice Rosenblatt and the Fall of Joseph McCarthy, a book by journalist Shelby Scates from the Seattle Post Intelligencer. One of these day I will explain here what Maurice Rosenblatt – a famous lobbyist who was a central character in the fall of mccarthyism in America – and I have in common.

Photo credit: Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine

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