Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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21
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
to drive a Georgia-born officer’s jeep knew that the difference
between being a Jew and being a Gentile was that they left the
Gentile alone until the guy proved he was out of line, but a Jew had
to earn being left alone. The description of Dachau is memorable.
Altogether it is a humanly penetrating novel of war.
The sorcerers
by Dr. Rudolph Kieve (Boston, Houghton Mifflin,
1949) is a novel about a Jewish and a Junker family and their
business and personal interweavings, during the last years of
imperial Germany. Like other novels of its kind, it endeavors to
unearth, with the usual amount of hindsight, the roots of Nazism
and the development of antisemitism immediately before Hitler,
and, like some, to demonstrate the German-Jewish heterogeneity
that was to write so cruel a chapter into our history.
The sorcerers
is a study of life in Germany between 1910 and
the rise of the Hitlerian hordes, and
On this side of nothing
by
Dr. Alexander Comfort (N. Y., Viking, 1949) is a story of refugees
in North Africa in the second World War. I t deals with the war
experiences of a Jewish poet who returned to his North African
coastal town as its ghetto is being closed by the German occupa-
tion troops. The novels may be said to supplement each other, to
form a kind of continuing story of man’s inhumanity to man. In
both novels the source of the main conflict is the incidence of
bigotry and brutality in relation to those of the Jewish faith.
When the British troops come to the liberation of the people
penned up by the Italians, who, in turn, have been pushed around
by the Germans, there are fresh tragedies and inhumanities, all
in the name of order; the refugees within the ghetto have their
violent differences.
The house without a roof
by Joseph Sayre (N. Y., Farrar, Straus,
1948), originally serialized by
The New Yorker
under the title
“That was Berlin,” tells of the experiences of the Hoffmanns, an
anti-Nazi family in war time Berlin. I t has been reviewed as a
novel which it happens not to be. I t is a piece of fine reportage.
In all likelihood it represents a true and moving story somewhat
fictionized as told by the Hoffmanns to Mr. Sayre, who came upon
them quite accidentally in Berlin in the summer of 1945 when he
was there as a correspondent.
Upon reading these books, one acquires the impression that
only a man could have written with any degree of verisimilitude
about how men in the army think and talk and behave, especially
with respect to the other sex. Nor does one think that in any
average camp in the recent war the soldiers waiting to be sent
abroad were obsessed with sex to the exclusion of everything else.
Yet the latter impression is conveyed in
His human majesty
by
Kay Boyle (N. Y., Whittlesey, 1949) in which among many