Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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S ICHER /BURDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
41
ers and to oneself and shows how hard it is to absorb the fact
of being deported, of crossing the Styx into a hell under an
edenic sun. The parable of the hijacked cruise-liner is clarified
by the specific reference to the Kapo (“PAKO”), the enforced
idleness of detention, the self-degradation of the victims, the
suppression of written culture and “human engineering.” The
indictment of the bestial savagery of Western society recalls the
shocking daily scenes of ordinary human behavior such as the
peasants’ treatment of the Jewish boy in Jerzy Kosinski’s
Painted
Bird,
with which Lind’s novel shares its bird imagery but not
its fantasy, and in Lanzmann’s film
Shoah,
which also exposes
the truth of human behavior, in the interviews with ordinary
people alive today who lived inside the camps or in the towns
and villages of Europe.
The eerie claim of the Holocaust on the minds of the children
of survivors who can reach the camps only through their fan­
tasies and the memories of others is no less unremitting than
its habitation of the minds of camp survivors and refugees. The
guilt of their survival is mitigated only by the providential ac­
cident of being born elsewhere and after, of not having lived
the experience. The perspective has altered from that of Abra­
ham bringing his son to sacrifice to that of the son who survives
his father’s slaughter in Amir Gilboa’s modern version of the
akedah
.20 The son who survives lives and relives his father’s
death; those who were not
there
can only imagine the gaps in
memory. As in Amihai’s “The Times My Father Died” absence
and suffering determine their existence in the present and in
future generations. No reparations can obliterate the truth of
the loss. Writing offers the sole reparation, not in the sense
of a judicial making good or financial compensation, but a
means to
tikkun,
repair of self.
20. See Alvin Rosenfeld, “Reflections on Isaac,”
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
1, 2 (1986), pp. 241-248.