May 132015
 

PaperLoveSarah Waldman’s grandfather escaped the Nazi Aunchshloss in Austria by the skin of his teeth.  He settled in America, opened a successful medical practice, and lived a life of joy and optimism.  In his closet, discovered only after his death, are the letters of his true love, Valy, left behind in Vienna and Berlin.  As the jaws of the Nazi vice slowly draw closer together around Valy’s diminishing life her letters to America become increasingly desperate, personal, and ultimately heartbreaking.  By searching for Valy’s story, the history of one woman whose trail leads into the maw of the Shoah, Waldman answers one of the most difficult questions asked of Jews.  Why did Jews let the Nazis do this to them?  Here we see how it happened to Valy who stayed behind to be with her mother when even in 1938 things seemed like they could not get so bad that abandoning a country, a livelihood and the only family you still had was the only means of saving any member of your family.  Because we read this book knowing the outcome and that those Jews still in Europe could never know what was yet to come we are even more chilled as Nazi restrictions build one upon another.  And then the really unanswerable question comes to the fore.  How could Nazis week after week conceive of new methods of torture: forbidding Jews to shop, ride a bus, congregate, appear in public, live in their own homes, work, live?

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