Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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prevent the crimes toward Jews, or why this generation would
wish to shroud its record in silence. Using as his leitmotif the
proverb “T h e pride of the children is their father,” Geissler
argues tha t the restoration of this pride demands the end of
silence and the frank avowal of past responsibility. In his effort
to understand this past—to establish facts—Geissler’s research
m inded hero encounters once more all the myths which brought
H itler to power and enabled him to destroy the Jews. Geissler
later adapted
Die Anfrage
to television. His other TV play,
Das
Schlachtvieh
(Slaughter Cattle), deals very emotionally with the
exterminations. T h e Jews, of course, are the cattle led to
slaughter.
T h e role of German and Jew as executioner and victim, and
the scrutiny of the German Zeitgeist forms the focal point of
several better than average novels. They are explored in Kasimir
Edschmid’s
Drei Hauser am Meer
(Three Houses by the Sea),
Paul Schalliicks
Engelbert Reineke,
Kurtm artin Magiera’s
Tag
und Nacht
(Day and Night) o r M artin Walser’s play
Eiche und
Angora
(Oak and Angora). Occasionally there is a variation
of the theme, as in Hans Keilson’s
Der Tod des Widersachers
(Death of the Opponent), which is less concerned with the hatred
between victim and executioner than a polarity of repulsion and
attraction, creating, as one critic pu t it, a suprapersonal solidarity
between them.
As the most importan t German writer today Gun ther Grass
has, of course, also dealt w ith this question. But the viewpoint
and approach are similar with only Grass’ highly distinctive
style and manner to set him apart. In “Dog Years” he advanced
what seemed to be the theory of a love-hate relationship between
German and Jew, with each representing a pole of human values
(see above). T o pu t over his theory, Grass needed a Jewish
character. But a Jew living openly in war time in Germany was
not feasible and Grass had to content himself with a half-Jew.
Grass’ half-Jew, however, has very little of the Jew in him. On
the whole, his treatment is not convincing because his half-Jew
is just that, and the half tha t is supposedly Jewish is tha t only
because Grass tells us it is.
Jews are again writing in German, though not in Germany.
Jakob Lind wrote
Eine Seele aus Ho lz
(The Soul of Wood) in
England; Peter Weiss wrote
Marat/Sade
and
Die Erm ittlung
(The Invesigation), not to speak of
Abschied von den Eltern
(The Leave), in Sweden; Ilse Aichinger, a half-Jewess, at one
time wrote ou t of Vienna. T h e ghost of Auschwitz and local
persecutions loom large in the work of these most talented of
Jewish writers employing the German tongue today. O ther
novels by Jewish writers, which so far have appeared in German
K
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L
itera tu r e
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