Page 56 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
4 8
Can one indeed cope with the Holocaust 365 days every year,
especially in a country with a large popula tion of survivors,
with a constant flow of new immigrants who reopen old wounds,
and with hordes of hostile millions on the borders calling for
annihilation? Survival is a fundamental issue. What price did
one have to pay “there” for one’s own survival? Was survival
mere chance, with fate on the crossroads directing “left and
right?” Did only the Schneidermans survive? Are the characters
of
The Last Jew
mere individuals involved in their daily per-
sonal affairs?
There is no doubt tha t each character in the play has not
only its own personal existence bu t is intensely symbolic
. . . Each is a defined archetype and as such the meaning
of his activities and behavior is different from characters
in a regular play.17
In
The Last Jew
there is continuity between the pre-Holocaust
past and the post-Holocaust future. T he world of the fathers,
their ghosts and guilt, still haunts and torments the lives of
their sons and daughters. The la tter attempt to bu ild a better
and safer world than the one they witnessed as young children,
a Europe filled with dead bodies and decimated cities.
Most of the plays written by Israeli playwrights deal with
the aspects of the Holocaust which are relevant to the Israeli
experience rather than with the universal dimensions of the
theme. Yet provincialism is not unique to Israeli Holocaust-
related plays alone, bu t rather reflects the state of the Israeli
theatre in general.
NEW FOCUS
Since 1977 there seems to have been a silent switch in the
presentation of the Holocaust in the public media. There is
less focus on the concentration camp universe, destroyed cities,
war crimes and trials. The focus now appears to be on the
more flamboyant aspects of the H itler era, Nazi leadership
and H itler himself. W ithin the span of less than half a year,
four books on H itler were published and two were more than
17 Gefen, “Ha־Yehud/ ha-Aharon,”
A l ha-Mishmar,
April 11, 1975, p. 9.
The translation is mine.