Tag Archives: Nazis

The Pianist

This autobiographical tale by Władysław Szpilman is another staggering account of the holocaust, this one by a Polish Jew. A nationally known concert pianist living in a Jewish area of Warsaw with his parents, brother and two sisters, after the Germans … Continue reading

Posted in bleakdom: don't blink, read | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warsaw (part thereof)

The Nazis and the Soviets between them really made a mess of this town. In late July 1944, as the Red Army reached the east bank of Warsaw’s river, the Vistula, they called on the people of Warsaw to rise … Continue reading

Posted in road | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

east

On Saturday night, Lublin is rocking – more even than Krakow. The old town – a few cobbled streets and a medieval square – is jammed with people partying out loud in sweltering heat. A punk band blasts cacophony from … Continue reading

Posted in road | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

This Way for The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Tadeusz Borowski, who wrote these stories, lived through Auschwitz somehow, and left sharply told tales of hell behind. There is nothing to say about them by way of commentary; they just need to be read. But his guilt (one has … Continue reading

Posted in bleakdom: don't blink, read | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

earth do not cover their blood

From the moment the bus stops, Auschwitz and Birkenau, 67 and a half years to the day after their liberation, are heaving with guided tour groups in a Babel of languages. The story goes on and on: three-and-a-half almost relentless … Continue reading

Posted in anybody up there?, bleakdom: don't blink, misery for the many, freedom for the few, road | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Served The King Of England

This novel by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, written in 1971, consists of a series of impossible anecdotes strung around the life of the narrator, a waiter in Bohemia during the years around the Second World War. At first it’s … Continue reading

Posted in read | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prague: the Jewish quarter

It only takes so long looking at the pretty face of central Europe before you are bound to end up staring at the screaming, searing wound gouged across it: the treatment of the Jews. It was bad enough before the … Continue reading

Posted in bleakdom: don't blink, road | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dresden: twice risen

Sad though it may seem, Dresden’s greatest claim to fame these days is probably that it was bombed pretty much out of existence by the RAF on the night of February 13th 1945: There are lots of modern buildings interspersed … Continue reading

Posted in road | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

terror and comfort

Today I went to the Terror House in Budapest. This is a museum set up in the house which was the headquarters, first, of Hungary’s Nazis, who ruled brutally for a few months in 1944-45; and then of the Hungarian … Continue reading

Posted in misery for the many, freedom for the few, road | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budapest

My arrival in Budapest wasn’t too salubrious: a drunken woman and a man with a weatherbeaten face and a moustache like out of a chronicle of some Balkan war shouting and throwing a table at each other, and an old … Continue reading

Posted in road | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment