The Search: The Birkenau Boys

Gerhard Durlacher, Author, G. L. Durlacher, Author, Susan Masotty, Translator Serpent's Tail $13.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-85242-540-1
A child survivor of the Holocaust, Durlacher long believed that he was the only person still alive from a group of 89 boys assigned to the Birkenau extermination camp in 1944. After he learned that he was wrong, he set himself the task of confronting his past by locating some of the others. As in many other Holocaust memoirs, the prose here is spare, and the lack of detail can be a little confusing. For example, the reader is thrown into the author's search without a description of the process that led him to take his journey. But some psychological truisms emerge in this gray travelogue that, while not fresh, are worth ruminating over. What the author, a professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam who died in 1996, finds is that even though the survivors shared a common experience, how they have coped with their wartime suffering differs. Some, in particular those who have moved to Israel, meet regularly with other survivors; others keep their harrowing past buried deep in their psyches. Equally diverse are survivors' personal outlooks--despite what they have gone through, some of the ""Birkenau Boys"" still call themselves optimists, while others possess the bitterness one would expect. Not surprisingly, Durlacher, who wrote two previous books on the Holocaust, enjoyed the company of the former much more than the latter. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1998
Release date: 11/01/1998
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