Double Identity: A Memoir

Zofia S. Kubar, Author Hill & Wang $17.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8090-3957-9
A young woman in 1943 Poland wishes for flaxen hair and blue eyes, but ``what bothers me most was my nose . . . not the small, upturned Polish kind. Would the shape of my nose determine my future?'' The author isn't indulging in vanity here but preparing to flee the Warsaw Ghetto and pass as a gentile in the city's Aryan sector. Although the memoir is reticent and terse, Kubar's pain is palpable and deeply affecting as she recalls the besieged, burning Ghetto, the perfidies and anti-Semitism of Poles and the quelling of her Jewish identity. She criticizes her own pettiness--she has two coats but doesn't give one to a needy friend--and the behavior of fellow Jews--she is displaced from her first shelter by wealthier ``competitors for survival.'' Supporting herself with part-time tutoring, the resourceful Kubar escapes tragedy through sheer luck, subterfuge and the goodness of strangers and mere acquaintances. The portrait of the prickly but vulnerable Danka, one of a number of Righteous Gentiles who hide her and who believes that Jews are superior to gentiles, is particularly winning. Disillusioned with Communism, Kubar immigrated to New York City in 1971 from Poland. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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