Saturday, November 06, 2010

Sarah's Key — Still Small Voice ...

There are almost no European nation that did not participate in Holocaust. Ages old hatred and hostility to Jews, the eternal Others — created a situation of common acquiescence to Nazis devilish plan. Of course, the degree and the kind of the sins vary from nation to nation. It takes generations to rise publicly recognizable people, writers and artists to conduct a true nation's heart-searching and uncover, often with pain, the naked sin. Sin that has no explanation...

For me, French writer Tatiana de Rosnay's „Sarah's Key” is one of the most important books about Holocaust and the current awareness of it — in the most european of European's countries — France. While most of Nazi's horrors of Shoah happened on Polish soil, the fate of Jews in France was of specific, because it was in hands of highly coordinated French policemen of the legal French government. Such action was unusual in the WWII Europe.

The book's two parallel plots interweave the past (1942 France) and the present (2002 Paris).
In the past thread we read about operation Vel' d' Hiv' when 13000 Parisian Jews were packed into Velodrome d'Hiver (cycle track) and kept there indoor in horrible conditions, before being sent to concentration camps, first around Paris (Drancy) and then to Auschwitz.

The hero of that thread, young girl Sarah, in an attempt to save his brother, saves him from French policemen, but not from peril of death. When she escapes from a camp, and with help of French family comes back to Paris, she discovers what happened — and the event cast a shadow on all of her future life ...

In the contemporary thread, Julia, an American journalist married to a Frenchman, discovers the connection of her husband’s family has to the events of 1942...


She relentlessly goes after all possible tips to find what happened to Sarah and to understand what was the attitude of French to the Holocaust. It is good it was written by the French writer. Still Small Voice....


The book is also a very good page-turner (or ear-defender if you listen to audio), so I recommend it, even though as for war time books, it is not as deep as Zusak's „The Book Thief” ...

I read this book quite long time ago. For many reasons I could not write this review for a long time. Meanwhile I visited the place of Velodrome d'Hiver. The monument is not very easy to find. Finally my daughter found it and made the pictures of this moving monument:



You can see more monument pictures made by Jola.


2 comments:

  1. Why,my friend,were Jewish people so hated?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The answer depends on the time in history you want the answer about.

    Certainly in the past (i.e. before creation of the Jewish State) it was for two reasons.

    The first is the ages old need for a "scape-goat". The societies and their leaders need to have a common enemy who can be blamed for thier failures and - more generally - just for a fate.

    See, in mediaval times, Jews were accused of bringing epidemics on population of Europe, of
    economy problem, of deaths of children etc.
    The pattern is common and clear - someone need to blame someone for something - Jews, weak, without armies and political power - were at hand. This culminated in the II WW when Hitler initiated Holocaust backed by all sorts of scape-goats like arguments.

    So when we speak of the realm THIS book describes — this is clear that it was the motive of French police and many French people to support the attrocites....

    But there is also deeper reason. Whatever are people religious believes, Jews were faithfull and did not compromise their religion to politics. They were "people of the book" and sought for truth, not for practical advanteges. This was in stark contrast to other major religions, were the link between them and politics was very strong. Particularly in Europe, Christian Church have been very political for centuries. Because of that, because Jews were not compromising their religion with politics — they were hard to manage, to get them "on our side" and to have them support political factions. This was the second major reason for the hatred. That was clearly the motive of Jews expulsion from Spain in XIV century and milions of accustions repeating even in XX century.


    I do not feel I may have the opinion why even today there is a lot of hatred. The difficulty today is that there is the State, the Jewish State which IS political entity — and this makes thinking harder....

    ReplyDelete