Page 281 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

Basic HTML Version

only reveal human shabbiness?, the communal voice cries in out­
raged disappointment at its fiction-writing sons and daughters.
Are people’s motives only base? Well, no. O f course not. And in
fact, in the Song o f Songs, there is a passage that can easily be
thought of as a kind of description of a writer at work. “Before I
was aware” — and this phrase is crucial, because that shadowy
region of ‘before-awareness’ is precisely where a writer’s work
gets done — “Before I was aware, my soul set me/ Upon the
chariots of my princely people.” But once embarked on that
chariot ride, having paid his fare like all the rest, the
become-writer, sometimes dreamy and distracted, sometimes
overly bright-eyed, and not so simple after all, takes a good look at
the other passengers. And out of observation and memories and
dreams and imaginings, he steps off the chariot bearing — offer­
ing — tales and revealing secrets. And if he’s lucky, and if he’s
done his work well, it’s in just these tales and secrets that we all
discover anew the dark and bitter turnings of the heart, the bright
and awesome ascents of the spirit.
With time receding and the memory fading it becomes increas­
ingly important for this generation, and especially this last gener­
ation of survivors, to leave for posterity an unassailable record of
the greatest crime in history, which was committed in the broad
daylight of the twentieth century. The importance of this task is
underlined by the fact that less than twenty-five years after the
Holocaust, scores of books and articles appeared in several parts
of the world purportedly to “demonstrate” that the Holocaust was
but an “invention,” a “hoax” of the Jews and their allies. Many of
these are initiated and financed by well-organized extreme right­
ist and neo-Nazi organizations headquartered in the United
The institutionalized challenge from the left — the Soviet left
— is more subtle, but potentially perhaps more dangerous. In the
Soviet Union and in most of the Soviet bloc nations, the Jewish
component of the Holocaust is completely ignored or at best
distorted. The innumerable books and articles published in the
Soviet bloc on the Nazi era simply ignore that the Jews were
singled out for total extermination and consolidate the staggering