Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rudolf Höss Coincidence

I've been reading this fantastic book about the Holocaust.  It might be the best Holocaust book I've read in a long time. 

It's called Too Many Men, and it's written by Lily Brett.  

The book is about an Australian New Yorker who goes to Poland with her Holocaust survivor father.   The novel is less about what happened to the Jews in World War II, and more about modern reactions to the Holocaust. 

I will say the book is not too flattering to the Polish.  The protagonist's viewpoint of Poland reminds me of Bill Bryson's view of Darwin.  

Basically one of the main ideas of the book is that the Jews are gone from Poland, but not anti-semitism. Although the book is kind enough to show some exceptions. Not all the Polish are awful.

Like most books about the Holocaust this book brings up feelings of despair and anger.   The usual stuff.  Butt there's also a lot of cuteness and humor.

And there's some interesting mystical elements.  


This morning I realized I had a weird morbid coincidence.

Before going to bed I read a scene which describes the hanging of Rudolph Höss.  It's a bit graphic.

They mention the date of the hanging.  I didn't think about it.

Then this morning I thought about it.  I thought about how it's April now and Höss' death was sometime in April.   I consulted Lord Wiki about the exact date of the hanging (because I had forgotten what the book said).  Lord Wiki says it was April 16.  Today is April 17.  So I realized I read about an April 16 death on April 16.

It's not a huge deal. But I did think it was a little interesting.  


FruitCake said...

Now that I've looked to see who this RH was and why he was important I've had a blinding flash. What he did and the callousness with which he did it was vile enough to be indescribable. But I seriously wonder what makes this more despicable than using toxic gases on battle fields, or germ warfare.
It's all sick and barbaric. All of it.
The only good thing about naming people is that it reminds us evil is perpetrated by real people.

Poland, eh. Some of the kindest and most moral people I've met have been Polish. I must say though, in all honesty, that the most virulently anti-semitic people I've met were polish - a veritable bunch of Hosses in conscience if not in deed - perhaps only for want of opportunity.

Theoretically I know where this crap comes from, but I'm at a loss to understand why it survives amongst supposedly educated people whose lives or livelihoods aren't threatened or who haven't even any other [naturally pathetic] excuse for seeking scapegoats.

I've never read any Lily Brett, though reviews or her books are always intriguing.

Dina said...



I think the important thing to remember about the Holocaust is that it was the fault of regular people...lots of of them. I think some people like to imagine it happened because a few monsters out there went a bit crazy.

What you say about conscience vs. deed. I think some people refrain from murder because it is immoral. Then I think others refrain from it only because it is illegal. Make it legal and they'll happily do it.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Andrew Highriser recently wrote a blog post about his grandmother that was incredibly moving. Even more so, though, was a comment from 'Hels' (I think) who said that after the Holocaust she was the only one left with grandparents, so shared hers around. I found that so profoundly and indescribably sad - but then anger broke through as I wondered how I would have coped in such a pointlessly grandparentless world. It's unimaginable.

Dina said...

Red Nomad Oz:


Yes, I saw Andrew's post, and Hel's poignant comment. It was timely for me because I was reading the Holocaust book when I read it.

To add to the sadness we can be reminded that it wasn't just grandparents who were lost, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives.