Monday, April 30, 2012

Reinhard Heydrich: Novel Approach by Laurent Binet

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Petr Ginz was half-Jewish.  That status delayed his being sent to Theresienstadt, then to his death in Auschwitz. He lived with his family in Prague until all fell apart, and kept his diary, including references to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich:  organizer of Kristallnacht, death squads and the steps intended to exterminate the Jews.
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Heydrich is the subject of a renewed interest in the novel, HHHhH.  Meet again Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague, here with another nickname: Himmlers hirn heisst Heydrich -- "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich."  See NYT Book Review, Operation Anthropoid, by Alan Riding 4/29/2012, at  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/hhhh-a-novel-by-laurent-binet.html.
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The novel, HHHhH, by Laurent Binet, has just been released in translation, having already earned the French literary prize for novels, the Prix Goncourt, 2010, see basic review at http://wiki.ask.com/HHhH.  I am on the library waiting list for it. The story was produced as an action film in 1975 under a new title, Operation Daybreak, see http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/operation-daybreak . 
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Having read the Diary of Petr Ginz, and been to many of the the places he records, see Heydrich Assassination here, this is to suggest another viewpoint.  I have not yet read HHHhH, but suggest another perspective to this historical documentation angle for adults.
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  • Build on the theater work about his life, http://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/petr-ginz-a-moving-dramatization-of-a-wartime-diary
  • Tell the story in film as part of the WWII perspective of an actual child in Prague at the time. See a review of the diary at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/books/10ginz.html.   He knew of the assassination and the reprisals. He wrote of them in his diary, however matter-of-fact.  Or re-release Operation Daybreak, even remake it, with Petr Ginz included.  
  • The Orthodox Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius is still there with its museum and story-telling exhibits. The map of safe houses, the equipment, all are available for an illustrated story or interactive program for young people to teach them about WWII. 
The renewed adult interest that the SS General Heydrich, in HHHhH should generate, is groundwork for a broad appeal to younger audiences, readers. The story has already been produced as a play by English students, at the Shrewsbury School, and offered there and in the Czech Republic, see Radio Prague site, and the Expats newspaper,  http://www.expats.cz/prague/article/2008-prague-fringe-fest-reviews/review-the-diary-of-peter-ginz/
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Petr Ginz tours in Prague, for example, would not be difficult to put in pamphlet form for walkers.
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Gripping, says Alan Riding, in the NYT review.  How could this story not be gripping.  Tell it, show it to the young.

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