Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Naked Among Wolves,
the entire action of which is set inside
Buchenwald Concentration Camp. I t would appear that the
greatest freedom for acting humanely in Nazi Germany existed
inside its prisons.
The very paradox of this conclusion seems to me proof of
its validity—as well as proof of the integrity of the authors
involved in the literature of remorse. (The contention may of
course be advanced that Apitz, an East German cultural func­
tionary, was bound to give his novel the obligatory “positive”
slant, but I would hesitate to impute pure opportunism to a
writer who himself lived through the hell of Buchenwald.)
Just as his West German colleagues lack Apitz’s background
so do they not share his “retrospective optimism.” The continued
underground existence of the good Germany, only temporarily
obliterated by the Nazi eruption, is to them no deeply-held
article of faith. Many are beset by grave doubts about the nature
of the society in which they live and about the moral responsive­
ness of their fellow countrymen. This lack of rapport between
themselves and their public also has its effect in a wide diver­
gence of approach to the cathartic function of the literature of
remorse.
Gunther Grass, for instance, distances himself from his audi­
ence and from the events he depicts by such alienation-devices
as describing the firemen’s feces as “brown sausages” and similar
shock images.
At the opposite extreme to Grass’s alienation is Walser’s
pathos-laden bid for audience-involvement—when both Woizele
and the barren German woman ramble on about their dead
or never-to-be-born children, as it were in unison.
Somewhere between these two lies the approach of the author
of
The Burnt Offering,
Pastor Albrecht Goes, a man equally
endowed with the gift of writing—and the gift of love.
In those days at Offenbach I had Rebecca for a friend.
It was the only time I really ever had a friend; usually I
can’t form friendships—the others always demand too much.
Rebecca was the daughter of the cantor at the Synagogue
and in truth she looked like Rebecca at the well. . . . When
the manhunt began the cantor’s family started hiding the
child; always somewhere else. People were helpful. She also
stayed with us a few times. We had long conversations at
bed-time; I haven’t forgotten them.
And then, suddenly, Rebecca had vanished. “Where is
Rebecca?” I asked every day; I asked morning, noon and
night. I knew the world without Rebecca wasn’t the world