Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

Basic HTML Version

SUHL / ON WRITING HOLOCAUST FICTION
51
editor and teacher, seems to have been a necessary preparation
for the writing of this novel. Even so I approached the task with
a great deal of self-doubt and trepidation. Was I ready? Would
I succeed?
A REALISTIC AND BELIEVABLE STORY
The first two reassuring answers to these questions came soon
after publication and they came in the form of a review and a
letter. The review characterized the story as being “realistic and
believable.” Of all the other pleasing adjectives the review con­
tained, for me those two were the key words.
The letter was a fan letter from a young reader out in San
Marino, California, which reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Suhl:
I just read your book,
Uncle Misha’s Partisans,
and I en­
joyed it thoroughly. I could really relate with the main char­
acter, Motele. I am Jewish. Motele’s parents were killed by
the Nazis and so were my grandparents! I thought it was ex­
citing when Motele first went out on his mission and was hired
in the German Headquarters. Why did you write the novel?
Do you have a sequel?
Sincerely yours,
Steve Barlam
In my reply I told Steve that I wrote the book for him and
other boys and girls his age so that they could learn something
about the Holocaust and Jewish resistance. In their quest for
a meaningful identity with their people many young Jews ask
searching questions related to the Holocaust: Why were the Jews
selected for the Final Solution? How did they react to Hitler’s
genocidal program? Is it true, as some say, that they went pas­
sively to their death, that they did not resist? It is terribly im­
portant to know that they are not members of a people of cow­
ards; that in the face of their greatest catastrophe the Jewish
people, with minor exceptions, comported themselves with great
dignity and responsibility; that they did resist, and considering
the conditions under which they fought back their resistance
assumes a dimension of unparalleled heroism.
What a great inspiration it would be for them to know how
the ghetto historian, Emmanuel Ringelblum, described the re­