Talking Until Nightfall: Remembering Jewish Salonica, 1941–1944

Isaac Matarasso, trans. from the Greek by Pauline Matarasso. Bloomsbury Continuum, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4729-7588-1
This powerful collection of Holocaust writings by Greek-Jewish doctor Matarasso (1892–1958), drawn largely from a memoir originally published in Athens in 1948 and augmented with commentary and autobiographical pieces by his family members, bears witness to the Nazi occupation of Salonica (present-day Thessaloniki) in Greece and the near-extermination of the city’s Jewish population. A generous, community-minded dermatologist, Matarasso left the Jewish ghetto for weeks at a time to work for the Greek resistance. As his daughter-in-law and translator, Pauline, notes in the book’s fine introduction, Matarasso’s observations are “both urgent and subtle, measured and hesitant to condemn.” He vividly describes Jewish collaborators “down at the railroad station on deportation days, the regulatory truncheon in hand” as they “harassed the Jewish flock,” and notes that “even the insane from the Jewish asylum are herded aboard [trucks], along with disabled soldiers from the Albanian war—legless, armless, feet lost to frostbite.” He also writes about Jewish culture in Greece, and the struggle to rebuild after the war. The book’s final section includes selections from a memoir written by Matarasso’s son, Robert (1927–1982), who offers his own eloquent perspective on some of the events described by his father. This poignant eyewitness account articulates the human cost of the Holocaust. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/01/2020
Release date: 07/07/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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