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Journey to Poland: A German Novelist Seeks His Jewish Roots on the Eve of the Nazis' Rise to Power [Hardcover]

Alfred Doblin , Heinz Graber , J. Neugroschel

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Hardcover, 31 Dec 1991 --  

Book Description

31 Dec 1991
Fascinated by the nature of the Jewish identity, Doeblin, the author of "Berlin Alexanderplatz", a non-practising Jew in Berlin in the 1920s, decided to visit Poland to try to discover his Jewish roots. This book is a record of that journey. He describes Polish-Jewish language and tradition, the striking costumes and colourful markets, and the terrible poverty that surrounded everything. The book is both a personal investigation into ancestry and a portrait of a unique society on the eve of its destruction.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way Jews really lived 16 Aug 2000
By Manuel Haas - Published on Amazon.com
Alfred Döblin was of Jewish origin himself, but his background was so secular that he couldn't really relate to his Jewishness. After some first pogroms in 1920s Germany, Döblin decides to travel to Poland to find out about the traditional Jewish way of life. Döblin is shocked. Life in the ghettos is horrible, the places are overcrowded and dirty. Most Jews lead a life completely apart from the Polish people around them. They didn't have the chance to lead a "normal" life, as they were discriminated against in a way which seems to be an early form of apartheid. This way of life must influence people's view of the world: Döblin is struck by the religious fanaticism, which he finds fascinating and repulsive at the same time.
Of course the book tells you a lot about the short-lived Polish Republic of the 1920s too, but the Jews are Döblin's main interest. He describes a civilization which was completely destroyed by the Nazis only a few years later. Of course Döblin's view is that of an outsider, but he is a highly civilzed and sympathetic outsider, and I am sure his picture is a lot more realistic than all those of idyllic Schtetels where bearded people are busy being merry and making music.
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