Page 84 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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JEWI SH BOOK ANNUAL
74
leaders to the orders of the
Sonderkommando
hastened the exter-
mination of Hungarian Jewry. In vain he tried to check the stupid
and cowardly obedience of some members of the Judenrath until
at last he had to resign his position and go into hiding. In his
articles he points to those grave mistakes and thereby contributes
to a deeper understanding of the events.
Understandingly the
belles-lettres
of the postwar period also
bear the stamp of this documentary trend. Some of the first docu-
mentary publications are artistic portrayals of life and death in
the extermination camps. Returning deportee artists brought
with them their sketch-books and published pictures of the hor-
rors they had seen. The fiery smoke of the crematoria looms up
threateningly in the dark background as emaciated men and
women whipped by cruel SS guards try to shield themselves with
skeleton hands; hundreds of corpses hoarded into heaps by vie-
tims about to be murdered themselves; these are the themes of
the works of art. The most artistic of these collections was made
by a young Palestine-born painter by the name of Emery Abady.
The pictures are accompanied by short but emphatic lines of text,
groans of tormented and embittered souls.
The same mournful dejection glooms toward us in the novels
describing the sad life in the forced labor camps. The novels are
teeming with torturing reminiscences. We read of young boys
and old fathers driven out into the snowy battlefields of the
Ukraine; we see them picking up mines before the advancing
German armies in no-man’s land; we watch them as they are
blown up by the hundreds on the dangerous mine fields, mown
down by the machine-guns of their inhuman henchmen, marching
securely behind their victims. We see the Jews as they freeze to
death and are buried under sheets of snow and ice. We hear the
complaints of the survivors, their sobs and wails, we see the tears
running down their deathly pale cheeks. We hear them talking
about their dreams: about wonderful dishes once served to them
on festive tables, about warm clothes instead of wet rags, about
touching soft pillows instead of the hard and merciless stones under
their heads. We read about the sergeant who cruelly executes the
command: “none of the Jews should return home alive” ; we learn
about murderous attacks on the defenseless and weak, about tor-
tures, about wholesale massacres.
Sometimes a brighter spot appears in this dark background: a
benevolent officer, a humane character, a compassionate and
honest man, or some girl holding a glass of cold water to the
parched lips of the sick. And through the whole macabre picture
there flickers a never fading hope of survival and a strong faith
in the ultimate victory of those who fight against the monster of