Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com's Reviews > Displaced Persons: A Novel

Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz
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's review
Sep 21, 11

bookshelves: 2011
Read from August 28 to 31, 2011

“Dis­placed Per­sons” by Ghita Schwartz is a fic­tional book which fol­lows a group of holo­caust sur­vivors from their lib­er­a­tion to the twi­light of their life. This is a mov­ing nar­ra­tive of peo­ple with no coun­try and no home.

Cov­er­ing sev­eral decades, the book is divided into three sec­tions begin­ning in 1945. At the Bergen-Belsen refugee camp sev­eral peo­ple meet and become those that the book fol­lows. Pavel, Fela, Chaim, Berel, Dvora and their daugh­ter Sima all become “Dis­placed Per­sons” or DPs.

'Dis­placed Per­sons” by Ghita Schwartz is a post World War II sur­vival story. An evoca­tive novel which fol­lows holo­caust sur­vivors for decades after their lib­er­a­tion. The con­tent of the story is very inter­est­ing and thought pro­vok­ing.

What I found most inter­est­ing is how, liv­ing through decades after being lib­er­ated, the world treats the sur­vivors dif­fer­ently. The per­spec­tive is not only that of the sur­vivors them­selves, but also of the soci­ety around them. That is the aspect of the book I liked the most, soci­ety has not treated the sur­vivors gen­er­ously as we might like to imag­ine. For many years they were seen as weak­lings, walk­ing to the gas cham­bers like sheep to the slaughter.

Ms. Schwartz fol­lows the sur­vivors and gets into their mind­set, they have been through the worst mankind can throw at them and have per­se­vered. They don’t com­plain, share or talk about the past; they sim­ply grunt and take the punches life throws at them qui­etly and with dignity.

The char­ac­ters in the book are strong, resilient, com­plex and pro­found — even though there was no one I could iden­tify with. They are three dimen­sional, real and face hard­ships and strug­gles like the rest of us, only with a huge amount of baggage.

At times, how­ever, I found myself get­ting dis­con­nected from the story. It might have been the writ­ing style, even though the book is well writ­ten, or the sticky and emo­tional sub­ject mat­ter. This is not a quick read, but a deep, some­times dis­turb­ing explo­ration of the long term impact and injuries the holo­caust created.
The novel fol­lows their strug­gles and tri­als through­out their lives in Europe and even­tu­ally in the US.

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