Monday, October 7, 2013

October Feature The Thief of Auschwitz part one-Shadow and LIght -Week one discussion

























The Thief of Auschwitz
Part One
Shadow and Light

There’s so much to discuss in part one and so much I don’t want to because of the horribleness of the situation so I’m glad that authors like Jon aren’t afraid to talk about it.
Part one is a contrast like it’s title of darkness and light and even though he only touches on the societal situation of the time he does it in a way that gives us a good picture of what’s going on without gory details.
So let’s get talking about the novel.


First Impressions?


Lets talk about the clock
How does the Trompe-l’oiel clock at the Auschwitz station relate to the context of part one?


Max of today.
What do you make of the man today?


Character impressions
Do any characters stand out to you


What’s your impression of:
1942 Max
Eidel
Jacob

And as always please make this your own and add anything you feel necessary.


16 comments:

  1. I am off to read synopsis you have me curious!

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    1. Oh You'll love it and every tear will be worth it.

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    2. Hi Deb,
      I agree with one of your earlier comments - I had a difficult time starting this book. Such a terrible time in history, and it's all too easy to know how this may end. But I pushed through that, and am well into the book. Sorry, I'm in 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. meetings all week, so will have to get back to this next week. I'm wiped out at the end of the day!

      But I am very interested in that trompe-l’oiel clock. I think it plays a couple of roles here. It definitely could be seen as a disorienting factor, as you could never know the true time. But I think that it also represents the superficial - the part of life, at that time, that could seem normal on the surface, but with so much abnormal boiling just below. Having a static, stagnant clock doesn't move forward, doesn't allow change, and is a misrepresentation of reality. Knowing how history progresses, and descends into chaos, it's probably precisely how the Nazis would like the world to see events, to not look below the surface into reality.
      Elaine

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    3. Elaine, thanks for your reply. I thought you were probably busy and next week is fine to chat about it.
      I agree with your view of how the Nazis wanted us to view them not looking under the surface and it brings to mind the 1936 Olympics when Jessi Owen won 4 gold medals in Berlin.

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  2. I've been on vacation all week, but I'm back. Thanks for reading so closely and sympathetically...

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    1. Jon, I saw you and your wife's pic at Arcadia National Park. You'll have to tell us all about your trials and troubles trying to visit there.
      I also have news. My member who is a brand new mom will be commenting soon and so will Elaine as you see above so Yay I have some actual live participants :)
      Glad you made it home safe

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  3. First Impressions:

    I find myself reading this book with a heavy heart, but at the same time I think it's an important story to tell. As hard as it is to relive this terrible time in history, it's something we should never forget, to honor all the innocent lives lost and to remind us to never let this happen again. That being said, as difficult as it was to read about this time in history, I was instantly drawn into the lives of Jacob, Eidel, Max and Lydia. Jacob and Eidel were very much in love and my heart went out to them when their family was separated at the camp, Eidel especially. Her family meant everything to her and she always wanted them to be together, so when they were separated and then Lydia was taken away from her, she was left all alone. I couldn't help but put myself in her shoes. Imagining myself being separated from my husband and having my daughters taken away from me. It's heartbreaking and unimaginable to even think about.

    -April

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  4. Lets talk about the clock
    How does the Trompe-l’oiel clock at the Auschwitz station relate to the context of part one:

    To me it seemed like the clock was a way to give travelers a sense of normalcy. To reassure them that everything would be alright, there was nothing to be afraid of. Perhaps this clock was even able to ease their minds and fool them into believing that they were in a safe place. How could they even begin imagine the horrors that lie ahead of them, when everything around them still appeared to be normal? As the travelers soon realized though, they were entering a place where nothing would ever be the same. Where their worst nightmares were about to become a reality.

    -April

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  5. What’s your impression of 1942 Max, Eidel, Jacob:

    I found that Max was very optimistic in the beginning when they first arrived in the camp, believing the Red Cross trucks driving by were there to help people in a clinic. It didn't take long for him to realize the awful truth though. Throughout this first section I found Max to be less cautious than his father. He was quicker to react when he was angry, while his father was constantly telling him to watch himself.

    Jacob took on the role of being Max's protector. He was able to spare his son's life when they first arrived by insisting Max say he was eighteen so he wouldn't be considered a child. Jacob was very wise and could see what was about to happen, while others had no clue. He took care of is son the best he could under the circumstances, warning his son to keep quiet and not to draw attention to himself.

    Eidel was forced to be separated from her husband and son and then lost her daughter. She hated to be away from her family under any circumstances, but still found a way to keep going. She was a very fair person, keeping track of how many people she served before she would stir her pot of soup and then ladle it out to ensure no one was cheated. She clung to Lydia's handkerchief, the only thing she had left of her daughter, but when Zofia's fingers were sliced off she was quick to wrap her hand in it knowing she may never see either one of them again.

    I found that as time went on that all of these characters found an inner strength to keep on living for each other. Max and Jacob had each other to live for and once Eidel knew her son was still alive she had her husband and son to live for. Their bond as a family kept them going in the hopes that one day they would see each other again.

    -April

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  6. Character impressions, do any characters stand out to you:

    Unfortunately besides the main characters in the story, it seemed to me that the characters that stood out the most in my mind were those trying to get ahead at the expense of others, like the capos. Slazak was a prime example of this. At one time he was just one of the ordinary prisoners and he proved himself to be a brutal person, able to inflict punishment and pain on his peers as a way to prove himself to the higher ups. It was hard to read about how far an ordinary person would go to save himself from being tortured at the expense of another. So, when Slazak was demoted, I couldn't help but feel he would get what he deserved.

    -April

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    1. April, first welcome back and from the time this was posted it looks like you were up for a midnight feeding. Being a new mom must be especially hard for you to read about this awful time in history, so thanks for your generous support and for your wonderful comments.

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    2. Debbie, it's great to be back! My posts will probably be at odd times for awhile at least. Whenever I can get both girls to sleep, even for just a short nap, I'm trying to get some reading done. I'll try to catch up on this week's reading by the end of the week so I can post. It has been hard reading about this period in time. I look at my children and can't imagine what parents were going through at this time, knowing their children were going to be killed. It makes me sick just thinking about it. My heart goes out to all the families.

      -April

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  7. I'd like to comment on the clock as well. The Nazis had these people riding trains to nowhere for days and weeks until they finally reached their final destination were most of them were so tired and worried that the subterfuge was probably unnecessary and getting into the psyche of these monsters is not what I'd want to do but I'd really like to know the reasoning behind this.

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  8. The moment I found the description of that clock -- I think it was in Laurence Rees' book, AUSCHWITZ, A NEW HISTORY -- I knew that I had discovered a really important point of entry into the story. It simply said so much. As to the Nazis, it spoke of deception, of cruelty, of manipulation of human beings as if they were animals. As to the Nazis' victims, it spoke about exhaustion and hope and the yearning for normal life. So I knew I'd have to use it.

    Finding entry points into the book wasn't easy. In my first draft, I didn't have any of the early narrative pieces about Jacob and Eidel's courtship or about their family life in Zakopane. But as time went by I found that it was so important to provide that background.

    One more note about Max: there's a very good reason that he comes back every fifteen pages or so...

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jon, that clock just makes my skin crawl and yours is not the first book of fiction that I've seen it in either. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake also describes it.
      I think we'll talk more about Max next week when we take a final look at the novel.

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