This book is a long lament and defence of the author why he didn't become a father. First, there is the incurable Auschwitz illness - I.K. was imprisoned there at the age of fifteen. But for him, Auschwitz, was the emanation of a bigger system, that he calls totalitarianism. From his childhood on, his family and the people around him began destroying him through their education and religion - the 'virtues' of his youth: God as an almighty father revealed himself in the image of Auschwitz. For the author, surviving in this system was already supporting it. But why did he continue to live in it: to write - 'My pencil is my shovel'. With its powerful flowing elliptic style this book is written like a musical symphony. A masterpiece.
It was not Auswicz that he was to spend the most part of his imprisonment, but in Buchenwold. In fact, had he remained in auswicz, it is almost certain he would not have survived. It is to our betterment that he did live to tell his tale, one which has been told before so many times, but essential for those people who believe the holocaust and the massacre of so many Jews and other people who were undesirable to the ide of a master race. It must also be noted that evenm had he not been ingrained in his religion (and you must not forget that for many Jews, especially then but also now in Orthodox communities, it isn't simply a question of a religion which one chooses to follow, but a traditional way of life in which the judaism is intrinsic. Even so, the German invaders were not concerned with the religion as a choice, but as a 'race', they believed that the Jews were a dirty, inferior race of less-than-humans, so whether people were practising their religion or not made no difference to the Germans. Eastern european Jews have a quite distinctive appearance and this is quite dominant genetically. Maybe the determination and strength is a genetic trait too? It is these traits that people are afraid of and that is what makes the Jews, even today, often scapegoats. (Remember the conspiracy theory about the Twin towers on 9/11, for example) The book itself, "Kaddish..." definitely justified (if justification were needed in this time of overpopulation) his reasons for not wishing to father a child, and his eloquence is something one rarely sees in literature these days. The fact his books all have this huge impact that his imprisonment had on the rest of his life made glarngly obvious is reminiscent of J.G Ballard, whose themes of sticking to the herd mentality and also people's cruelties, deprivation and desperation and the acts these drive them to, run throughout his work. I absolutely loved this book and recommend it often, as I do now, although the "Fateless" one is, in my opinion, the superior work, showing the power of the memory of traumatic events at such a vital coming-of-age time.