By Lev Raphael
Lev Raphael grew up loathing every thing German. A son of Holocaust survivors, haunted by means of his mom and dad' discomfort and nerve-racking losses less than Nazi rule, he was once yes that Germany was once one position on this planet he could by no means stopover at. these emotions formed his Jewish and homosexual id, his existence, and his profession. Then the obstacles of an entire life started to come down, as printed during this relocating memoir. After his mother's demise, whereas learning her warfare years, Raphael chanced on a far off relative residing within the very urban the place she have been a slave laborer. What could he study if he really traveled to where the place his mom had came upon freedom and met his father? now not lengthy after that epochal journey, a German writer acquired a number of of his books for translation. Raphael used to be introduced on booklet excursions in Germany, gaining knowledge of no longer a lot a brand new Germany, yet a brand new self: somebody unafraid to stand the previous and go beyond it.
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Additional info for My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped
Their families were richer than ours, had been in America several generations—and I always felt the difference. They lived in a classier neighborhood, went on vacations to Disneyland and elsewhere. When we had school projects, whatever their kids produced or brought in had clearly cost more money, which my parents dismissed as “vulgar” ( prost in Yiddish). One girl brought in her mother’s mink stole to be part of her costume for a class play. My parents were predisposed to sneer at anything they did, and when a classmate’s dachshund had a burst kidney because—so I heard—it wasn’t being walked often enough, my parents nodded at each other.
Quite recently, my father, now in his late eighties, disgorged a wild story: my mother claimed that soon after her return to Vilna from the doomed train ride, she was sent on a secret mission by the Bund to warn Jews in Riga, roughly two hundred miles away, about what was happening to Vilna’s Jews. Not only that, but she was accompanied by her boyfriend, Boris, and the two young people had to pretend they were married, which meant sleeping in the same bed. “You’ll do it for the Bund,” her father had instructed her (this was before he was taken off to Ponar).
You can imagine what she got,” my mother concluded darkly. But, actually, I couldn’t. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and obsessively reading Holocaust literature and history that I could begin to imagine what had happened to my parents and their parents and cousins and friends— Bakanteh un farvanteh (acquaintances and relatives), as my dad would say in Yiddish. Growing up, what I learned came in ﬂashes, like angry, frightening telegrams, and you could only listen. Asking questions shut off the stories, but so did the stories themselves.