Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation, 1939–1945

Peter Demetz, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (274p) ISBN 978-0-374-28126-7

Demetz (The Air Show at Brescia, 1909 ) takes a creative approach to this account of wartime Prague, as another subtitle indicates: “Memories and History, Terror and Resistance, Theater and Jazz, Film and Poetry, Politics and War.” Interspersing political and cultural history with snippets of memoir of his own wartime experiences and those of other Czechs, Demetz, whose mother was Jewish, focuses on politics and culture to explain how the Nazis ruled his home country and how the Czechs tried to hang on to their vivid prewar cultural life. Without avoiding the issue of collaboration with the Nazis, Demetz takes great pride in Czech resistance, both political and cultural, such as honoring the late president Masaryk on Hitler's birthday, on April 20. Demetz also focuses on individuals like Milena Jesenska, Kafka's onetime lover turned political writer, who was sent to Bergen-Belsen for helping Jews and others escape from Czechoslovakia . This history is both vivid and compelling, especially Demetz's personal stories. Some of those passages, particularly how a young Demetz dealt with romance and sex in a country ravaged by war, are achingly beautiful. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/14/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-3035-2
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-0-374-53156-0
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