|Title:||Outcry - Holocaust Memoirs|
The inconceivable events of the Holocaust live on in our collective memory in part through the story of Anne Frank. We know a fair amount about Anne and her family but also about the history of many other Jewish people from Western Europe who were deported and murdered by the Nazis. It’s about incredible numbers, and a moving story can be told about each person – often a story that is beyond human in horror and sorrow.
What many do not know is that the Holocaust had an incredible intensity of horror in Eastern Europe. Millions of Jews and other ‘undesirables’ such as Sinti and Roma were murdered there on a large scale. The very first ghettos emerged in cities like Radom, Poland. It was in these ghettos that the Jewish people were locked away like animals from the rest of the city. More often than not this happened with multiple families in a tiny apartment, devoid of any form of luxury, privacy, or even enough food. So it was also for the author of this autobiography, Manny Steinberg (1925-2015), who was locked up with his family in the ghetto of Radom.
Steinberg tells in humble and moving language how years before the war his family was already increasingly being confronted in an intrusive manner by the growing antisemitism. Their lives were gradually becoming subject to more and more restrictions. Yet over and over, he found the flexibility to deal with the growing distress, until the Nazis invaded Poland and made life definitely unliveable for the Jews. He describes the life in the ghetto and concentration camps, the ruthlessness of the Nazis and their local helpers, but also the extraordinary story of a German soldier who helped him and his family and had to pay for that action with his life. Ultimately, Manny Steinberg survived the hell of four concentration camps and promised himself he would write down his memories of the Holocaust in an autobiography and publish it as a book, as a warning and to make sure the world will never forget.
Steinberg tells his story in a direct and moving style. He hides nothing. There is room to rage and mourn, but also to wonder why people hurt each other in the most horrendous ways and how it can be that seemingly ‘good’ neighbours can suddenly turn out to become hateful, bloodthirsty murderers. The book gives a glimpse into the human soul and mores, and also shows how humanity has not learned much from its past, considering how, during the more recent war in former Yugoslavia, ostensibly harmonious neighbours became arch enemies.
Manny Steinberg wrote this book in his later years. By doing this, he fulfilled the promise he made to himself. In writing this autobiography, Steinberg forced himself to relive the dreadful times just before and during the Second World War. His retellings are often unambiguous and confronting. Nevertheless he makes room for hope and love, for example when he writes about his brother, or about the German soldier who helped him. His book, Outcry – Holocaust Memoirs, is an important document of the time. It describes the Holocaust through the eyes of a survivor who witnessed and underwent the atrocities at different locations in the Third Reich and lived to tell his story. That is something which most people cannot do. Therefore, eyewitness reports like this one must be cherished, no matter how horrifying.