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By Mimi Schwartz

Mimi Schwartz grew up on milkshakes and hamburgers-and her father's boyhood tales. She hardly took the tales heavily. What was once a contemporary American teen presupposed to make of those money owed of a village in Germany the place, in accordance with her father, "before Hitler, every person bought along"? It used to be purely a long time later, while she heard a notable tale of the Torah from that very village being rescued through Christians on Kristallnacht, that Schwartz started to experience what those tales may relatively suggest. therefore started a twelve-year quest masking 3 continents as Schwartz sought solutions within the ancient files and between those that remembered that point. Welcomed into the houses of either the Jews who had fled the village fifty years previous and the Christians who had remained, Schwartz heard numerous tales approximately existence in a single small village ahead of, in the course of, and after Nazi occasions. occasionally tales overlapped, occasionally one reminiscence challenged one other, yet consistently they appeared to muddy the waters of straightforward judgment. How, this ebook asks, do associates preserve a modicum of decency in such instances of political extremism whilst worry and hatred pressure the bonds of loyalty and neighborly compassion? How will we negotiate evil and stay humane whilst, as within the Nazi years, hate principles?

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I always envied their clear skin and thought it must be the orange juice that they drink. ” We laugh, and I tell her how, at fifteen, I did the same dieting thing—minus the orange juice. And how everyone in my family was either pronounced too fat or too thin. She nods, knowing exactly, and we laugh again. I am having too good a time, I realize, thinking we should be more serious. Talking to Lotte is like talking to my friends. I wonder what would have happened if this lively nonconJoie de Vivre 37 formist had not had to flee Benheim.

He was a great friend of the Jews,” Hannah says, “and so were his uncle and grandfather before him. ” “The last Mayor Kinkele was always over by Ilsa Loew, visiting with her father, who was blind and had a radio. ” says Gretl. “Ja, he did. ” She smoothes her shirt. “Mayor Kinkele was also a good friend of. . ” Hannah stops. ” I click it off. “. . of Ellie. ” Gretl sits up. ” Kaffeeklatsch 27 Lotte leans forward. ” I lean forward. A scandal in straight-laced Benheim? Dad, are you listening? In Benheim everyone behaved.

We’ll make a date,” I say, smiling with good intention. I put on my coat, say my goodbyes, and hear a dozen “Please come again! And bring your mother! ” I can imagine that I will, we will, even as I hear my mother and sister saying: Benheim is not our world. Walking back to the car, I pass a window of red chili peppers and garlic hanging in the Spanish bodega and two dozen bratwurst and salami hanging in the kosher butcher. The sidewalks are cracked, broken beer bottles line the curb, and the day is darkening.

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