Quote of the Weekend

For everything, in time, gets lost: the lives of peoples now remote, the tantalizing yet ultimately vanished and largely unknowable lives of virtually all of the Greeks and Romans and Ottomans and Malays and Goths and Bengals and Sudanese who ever lived, the peoples of Ur and Kush, the lives of the Hittites and Philistines that will never be known, the lives of people more recent than that, the African slaves and the slave traders, the Boers and the Belgians, those how were slaughtered and those who died in bed, the Polish counts and the Jewish shopkeepers, the blond hair and eyebrows and small white teeth that someone once loved or desired of this or that boy or girl or man or woman who was one of the five million (or six or seven) Ukrainians staved to death by Stalin, and indeed the intangible things beyond the hair and teeth and brows, the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror and loves and hunger of every one of those millions of Ukrainians, just as the hair of a Jewish girl or boy or man or woman that someone once loved, and the teeth and the brows , the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust are now lost, or will soon be lost, because no number of books, however great, could ever document them all, even if they were to be written, which they won’t and can’t be; all that will be lost, too, their pretty legs and their deafness and the vigorous way they strode off a train with a pile of schoolbooks once, the secret family rituals and the recipes for cakes and stews and golaki, the goodness and wickedness, the saviors and the betrayers, their saving and betraying: most everything will be lost, eventually, as surely as most of what made up the lives of the Egyptians and Incas and Hittites has been lost. But for a little while some of that can be rescued, if only, faced with the vastness of all that there is and all that there ever was, somebody makes the decision to look back, to have one last look, to search for a while in the debris of the past and to see not only what was lost but what there is still to be found.

– The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(Out of every tongue, tribe, and nation, God has called His people, and so these people are not, in the ultimate way, truly lost. Some of them will be in heaven, praising Christ for all eternity.)

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Quote of the Weekend

“Mrs. Begley’s son once said of his mother, Something in her had been broken, and when he said this I had thought, The ones who were killed were no the only ones who’d been lost.”

The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060542993?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0060542993&linkCode=xm2&tag=genandquispi-20

Quote of the Weekend

“So we cannot go there with them. All I think I can say, now, with any degree of certainty, is that in one of those rooms, on a particular moment of a particular day in September 1942, although the moment and the day will never be known, the lives of my uncle Shmiel and his family, of Samuel Jager, my grandfather’s brother, the heir to and rebuilder of the business that t the cautious matrimonial intermingling of those generations of Jagers and Kornbluhs had been designed to enhance, a man who wrote a certain number of letters between January and December 1939, a woman who was very warm, very friendly, a forty-seven-year-old father of four girls, a natty dresser and a bit of a big shot, too, in the small town where his family has lived, it seems, forever, a young girl who was still very much a baby, to whom a seventy-eight-year-old man living in Sydney, Australia, will recall that he once said Hallo, Bronia! over a fence, a man, a woman, a child who have been forced by this point, to live with the knowledge that their third daughter, her older sister, a sixteen-year-old girl whom the father had named to perpetuate the memory of his darling sister who had died, it would one day be intoned, a week before her weeding, was shot to death at the edge of an open pit; an uncle, aunt, and cousin who at that moment, the moment at which he and then they hear, perhaps, the strange hiss begin, have a niece and a cousin whom they have never met but whom he has mentioned, politely, in a few of those letters (I say goodbye to you and kiss you, and also dear Gerty and the dear child, from me and also from my darling wife and children to you and all the siblings too), a niece who lives inย  the Bronx, New York, a pretty blond eleven-year-old with braces who, in the first week of September 1942, has just entered the sixth grad (just as her future husband, then thirteen, so much of whose family would be lost to narrative, was just entering the eighth grade, where he played with a boy whom everyone called Billy Ehrenreich, which was not his real name but after all he lived upstairs with the Ehrenreichs, a refugee from Germany who would sometimes say to my father that had fours sisters from whom he’d been separated and whom, he said, he’d “lost”, a word that my father, just a boy then, couldn’t quite understand)–in that room, they had eventually to breathe the poisoned air, and after a period of minutes the lives of Shmiel Jager, Ester Schneclicht Jager, and Bronia Jager, lives that will, many years hence, amount to a collection of a few photographs and a few sentences about them, She called him the krol, the king, she was very warm, very friendly, she was just a baby, playing with her toys, these lives, and many others things that were true about them but which now can also never e known, came to an end. ”

-A paragraph from The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(I thought this paragraph captured the sense of lives just cut off by the Holocaust. I also found it interesting that this whole paragraph is only two sentences. I’ve read few writers with as many long sentences and Daniel Mendelsohn.)

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Quote of the Weekend

My desire to have that narrative was no different from my grandfather’s desire to believe the stories about the Jewish neighbor or the Polish maid. Both were motivated by a need for a story that, however ugly, would give their deaths some meaning–that would make their deaths be about something. Jack Greene told me something else that night: that like Shmiel, his own parents had been hoping to get their family to safety, hoping to get visas; but that by 1939 the waiting list for papers was six years long. (And by then, he said, everyone was already dead.) Because I am a sentimental person, I would like to think–we will, of course, never know–that my grandfather and his siblings did everything they could for Shmiel and his family. What we do know is that by 1939, nothing they could have done would have saved them.

– The Lost: A search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(This book is the story of a great nephews search for his great uncle, aunt, and cousins who did not survive the Holocaust.)

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060542993?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0060542993&linkCode=xm2&tag=genandquispi-20