How does one write a book about one of the most horrific times in history? How does one write a book about his or her parents especially when one has been gone for close to five years? And how does someone write about various people who exemplified courage, righteousness, kindness, and self sacrifice?
On so many levels writing the book “Jew Face” has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. As much as I might try to feel what people who lived through the Nazi occupation and Holocaust in Europe felt, there is no way anyone who did not go through this time could actually capture this feeling. On an intellectual and compassionate level, anyone who is decent and thoughtful can understand how awful it was, but to write about it and to attempt to immerse oneself in it, is at the very least difficult, at most impossible. I made every attempt to do this while realizing all I could really do was convey my respect and honor to the memories of those lost and the pain and suffering of those who survived.
In writing about my parents I was confronted with a challenge. Do I search out their flaws and develop those areas of their character, or do I eliminate that dimension and focus on the qualities that made them special in this story? I chose the second option for two reasons. First of all my stories were based on their personal accounts and therefore I chose to portray those accounts the way that they were conveyed to me. I as someone who heard these stories my entire life, still find them fascinating. This is because of the positive content, not because of an unnecessary objectivity of the character of those who told the stories. The book is about their stories, not about the complexities of their respective characters. As a son I remembered only the greatness of my father and recognize the greatness of my mother with the same passion.
The second reason I went this direction is because the evil in this book is so clearly defined by being either a Nazi or a Nazi sympathizer that I chose not to focus on the imperfections of the decent individual. In this book there is a clearly defined good and evil. There are very few shades of grey.
And finally, how did I manage to write about people who exemplified such incredible behavior? By constantly feeling humble, feeling honored to write about them, and by trying to learn to be a better man while writing about better men and women than I could ever be. They are already immortalized by the worlds that have come from them. All I did was attempt to make it possible for as many people as possible to learn about this small handful of very special people.
April 12th, 2012 at 12:05 pm
When I tell people about the book I’m writing, the reaction usually goes like this…:wow, that’s going to be a difficult first endeavor. Why didn’t you start with something lighter?” My response is always, “It need to be written, we must never forget.” My mother is alive and well at almost 88 years old and she only started to reveal the horrors she went thru about 4 years ago.
I’m looking forward to your book, David.