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The Hand That Signed the Paper

2.78  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The Hand that Signed the Paper tells the story of Vitaly, a Urkranian peasant, who endures the destruction of his village and family by Stalin's communists. He welcomes the Nazi invasion in 1941 and willingly enlists in the SS Death Squads to take a horrifying revenge against those he perceives to be his persecutors.

This remarkable novel, a shocking story of the hatred
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157 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Allen & Unwin (first published 1994)
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Average rating 2.78  · 
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 ·  116 ratings  ·  22 reviews


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Ben Winch
Aug 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Holocaust-revisionist novel by a 20-something Anglo writer who made up a Ukrainian last-name (Demidenko) and appeared in publicity photos in a Ukrainian peasant's blouse, claiming to have based her text on her family's 'oral history'. In this guise she won 3 major Australian prizes, then when the establishment discovered her identity they demanded the book be reprinted under her own name, as if the pseudonym and not the ahistorical racism were the problem.

For my part, I'd glanced through the
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Deborah Ideiosepius
Feb 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: travestys
It is to the eternal shame of Australian literary evaluators that they were so desperate for ‘real’, ‘personal discovery’ ect that they fell for this very regrettable hoax. Hate literature thinly disguised as a personal/family history/discovery journey.

And I do mean thinly disguised;anyone with any background reading from the era and location would have seen through it. The lack of research however, is not my main problem with the novel;it is terribly badly written! No high school graduate
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Graham
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recommend anyone thinking of reading this book first try hard to erase from their mind the author's identity and the various allegations made against her. Just keep in mind that she was awarded The Miles Franklin Award and the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal in 1995, both prestigious Australian literary awards. These have not been withdrawn. But mainly just read the novel and form your own opinion.

I found it an absorbing, brutal and very difficult read, but I think it entirely merited
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Duncan Smith
Jan 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book isn't very good, yet it won at least two major literary awards in Australia and for a brief time was a big deal. Why?

The author, Helen Darville, pretended to be an immigrant from the Ukraine. It was the central part of her author persona. At the time, the Australian literary scene was obsessed with multiculturalism, and also with tales of trauma. World War 2 was in vogue, as it was the 50th anniversary of the war's end. Along came Darville with this book about what "her people"
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Greta
Apr 05, 2016 marked it as not-to-read
A hoax, revisionist and anti-semitic.
Dominic Feeney
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great and gutsy book. Despite the fact that the author is not Ukrainian (I mean, really, an author writing a novel based on a premise that isn't completely true??? I never heard of such craziness!) she manages to understand the mentality of Ukrainian nationalism in the 1930's and 40's. They had just undergone their own holocaust at the hands of the communists, the holodomor, which devastated Ukraine, so the Germans must have seemed like saviors. Without judgement, she proceeds to give an ...more
Patrick Johns
Sep 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
I wanted to give this 0 stars but I now realise that means "no rating" so I grudgingly up it to 1. If you want my reasons, read Deborah Ideiosepius's review - she has it spot on.
Patrick Johns
Jul 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of you said this book lost you on page 6. Well I am afraid I only got as far as the first sentence: "… Americans and Iraqis are engaged in a bizarre competition to see who can destroy the world many times over most...". Grammatically a horrible and clumsy sentence. Then further down the first page we have

".. the light and darkness at sunset plays over the glittering Ampol sign". Should be "play", and also another badly constructed sentence. And so it goes on. To quote a couple of the more
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Geoff Wooldridge
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
There have been many books and films about the horrors of the Holocaust and the evils of Nazism over the years and it is difficult to find a different perspective on this theme.

This book approaches the subject from the perspective of Vitaly, a Ukrainian peasant, and members of his family and community, and covers periods before WWII, when the Ukrainians were subject to the brutal oppression of Stalinist Russia, during the wars years and many years later when Vitaly is an elderly migrant living
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Craig
Feb 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was living in Brisbane when she won the Vogel. I went to her book launch before her cover was blown, knowing nothing about her other than she mentioned to the Courier Mail she was a recent law graduate at the University of Queensland. ( She wasn’t.)

When she signed my copy of the book she told me she was doing articles at a Brisbane law firm. ( She wasn’t ).

She was wearing that infamous idiotic prop, her peasant blouse.

Mine is a first edition so states the author was ‘Helen Demidenko’.

She also
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Simone
Apr 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
I began reading this novel and felt intensely uncomfortable about what I felt was a Nazi apologia. I stopped reading it because of this and weeks later the controversy erupted in Australia! The book was originally published as a true story of the author, Helen Demidenko's, Ukrainian (?) family. The novel won a major Australian literary prize (the Miles Franklin) but later, it was revelaed that Demidenko was actually Darville and that she was not Ukrainian. After Darville's identity was revealed ...more
Richard
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: second, world, war, fiction
an interesting book but the whole demidenko / darvelle debate is much more interesting
Victoria
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
What a pity she spoiled a promising writing career with that silly stunt about her name.
Sadie
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very different perspective about what happened to the people caught up in WW11 in Europe. Well written, honest, brutal. A book that makes you think long after it has finished............
Bec D
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Olivia
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was written when the author was a young woman, just 20, under the pen name of Helen Demidenko.
It became a cause celebre, infamous in fact. After receiving awards for the quality of the writing, the subject-matter and the apparently biographical nature of the narrative it became known that the writer was not in the relationship with the material in the manner put forward.
Purporting to be Ukrainian and drawing on materials available to her and her family it details anti-semitism in the
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Wendy
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting but quite apologist.
Carmen Carter
Jul 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only got through first chapter.
Angelique Marie
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this when I was 22 or 23, I'm dying to reread it as a 34-year-old.
Fliss Blanch
This story was proved to be a fake so I'm not going to give it a rating as it doesn't deserve one.
Michelle Heeter
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was published in 1995, the same year I migrated to Australia. I remember the hate-fest directed at the author when it was discovered that she was not of Ukrainian ancestry, as she had claimed. Looking at some of the Goodreads reviews, some people haven't forgiven Helen Dale for being a bit of a fantasist. It also makes people uncomfortable that this books deviates from the simplistic "Evil Nazis vs Saintly Jews" narrative that we learn in primary school. This book is NOT anti-Semitic. ...more
Belinda
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I hadn't heard any of the controversy until after finishing,so the low rating is not because of that. I just couldn't really follow it. It jumped around too much! In no real chronological order. The 2 stars are for the historical facts I didn't know about, and because it was a truly interesting concept. But it was ruined by my not really following the story very well.
Bea
rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2014
Sheridyn Woodward
rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2018
Michael Winkler
rated it liked it
Sep 30, 2014
Susan
rated it it was amazing
May 14, 2018
Lou Millipede
rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2019
Kay Lipman
rated it did not like it
Aug 03, 2014
Brendan
rated it it was ok
Aug 09, 2011
Tracey Clark
rated it did not like it
Aug 24, 2015
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