cover image The Order of the Day

The Order of the Day

Eric Vuillard. Other Press, $21.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-59051-969-1

In this brief volume, French filmmaker and writer Vuillard creates a philosophical, empathetic, and whimsically speculative reconstruction of a couple of events from the history of the Third Reich. This free-associative, melancholy ramble wends its way from a fateful February 1933 meeting of 24 German business leaders with Hitler that led to their funding the Nazis’ campaign, to some moments in the March 1938 German annexation of Austria—among them, a meeting between Hitler and Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, a tense lunch between the Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, and Austrians in the streets greeting German tanks. Vuillard homes in on bitter historical foreshadowing and ironies, such as the fact that gas service for many Austrian Jews was cut off following the annexation because they had used too much gas and not paid their bills—in many cases, because they had committed suicide using gas. “Don’t believe for a moment this all belongs to some distant past,” Vuillard writes, and this poetic, unconventional history compels the reader to agree. (Sept.)