Page 38 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
obscenities more than any of Singer’s writings which approach
the Holocaust more directly. Yet i f we compare The Slave w ith
Enemies (1972) , a novel dealing with survivors and refugees
from the Holocaust, we see that Singer cannot finally convince
himself or us that the Holocaust is no different in kind from
the long series o f disasters that have befallen the Jews. The Slave
finally celebrates survival and recovery; the characters o f Enemies,
who have survived the camps, never recover and cannot return
to life.
ISRAELI HOLOCAUST FICTION
The desire to relate the Holocaust to other Jewish historical
events and experience need not always result in generalization
o f the Holocaust itself. The two largest remaining Jewish com­
munities, the Israeli and the American, have both given imagina­
tive expression to the desire for some moral and even meta­
physical link between this darkest chapter of Jewish history and
their own reason for being.
The Israeli novels of the Holocaust best-known to English
readers are Yehuda Amichai’s Not of This Time, Not of This
Place (1963) , Hanoch Bartov’s The Brigade (1965) , Haim
Gouri’s The Chocolate Deal (1965) , and Dan Ben Amotz’s To
Remember, To Forget (1968) . A l l are set either partly o r wholly
in Germany, and all take place in the post-war period. I shall
here discuss only the first two.
Amichai’s novel approaches the question of Israel’s proper
spiritual relation to the Holocaust through a technical device
which symbolizes the two choices available. His hero, a German-
born Israeli archaeologist named Joel, must decide whether to
spend his vacation at home in Jerusalem pursuing love, or in
Germany seeking to recapture his buried life and to take revenge
against the murderers. In the event, he does both. As narrator,
he remains in Jerusalem where he falls in love w ith an American
Christian doctor whose estranged husband is directing a film
about the Holocaust which is being made in Weinburg, Ger­
many, Joe l ’s home town. In his third-person incarnation, Joel
goes back to Weinburg, where he pursues revenge and knowl­
edge, including self-knowledge.
In Weinburg, Joe l discovers that he is incapable of vengeance,