Thursday, August 7, 2008

Auschwitz. Read "The Seventh Well," by Fred Wander. Life In the Camps

"The Seventh Well"
Fred Wander, Survivor

The Death Camps. The Labor Camps. Auschwitz and its complex including Birkenau, where Petr Ginz died.

We have films, diaries of people of many ages, novels. Let us introduce you to the inmate and novelist, Fred Wander, in various camps including Buchenwald and Auschwitz, during the years 1938-1945. His novel, a work of fiction stemming from people he knew in the camps, gives an inside, human look at the atrocity that the camps were in conception and execution: "The Seventh Well," by Fred Wander, W.W. Norton & Co., NY NY latest copyright 2008. See review at the National Yiddish Book Center, at ://

The book was originally written in German, as "Der Siebente Brunnen," and is here translated by Michael Hofmann. Fred Wander died in 2006 in Vienna. He apparently put together other recollections, variously entitled "Das Gute Leben" - the "good life" in the sense of fullness, kindliness (not virtuous, epicurean), notes the translator. An alternate title - "Von der Frohlichkeit im Schrecken" means something like "remaining cheerful in the midst of horror."

It is a small book, and mighty. He speaks little of himself, his experience. He is a conduit for the stories of others, the collaboration needed to keep each other alive, when that could be done. For adults rather than for children; stories retold, tales that immortalize the unnumbered dead. Relive it. The chapters are severable - not sequential. Find there pain but also humor, dignity. Learn the day-to-day routines, how to survive, who learned that and who didn't, the random, the chosen, the happenstance horrors. And soaring spirit.

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