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Displaced Persons: A Novel

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  73 reviews
“This is an amazing novel. The writing is piercing and clear, and the humanity of the author and her characters will inhabit my thoughts for years to come.”
—Anne Roiphe, National Book Award-winning author of Fruitful


An astonishing tale of grief and anger, memory and survival, Displaced Persons marks the arrival of a supremely gifted new literary talent, Ghita Schwarz. Sch
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2010)
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3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  358 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Malena Watrous
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exquisitely written, deeply moving novel, that I found to be highly original. While there are lots of "holocaust novels," this book (which never uses that word) is about real people--not saints, not villains, just people like you and me--who happened to have lived through something almost unspeakably awful, and who *happen to* have survived, and who feel all the complicated feelings of survivors of any kind of tragedy. Schwarz shows them over the next decades forming families, working ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in any Holocaust survivors and their stories; post WW2 rebuilding;
Recommended to Richard by: I read a review
A compelling tale starting in 1945 with several Polish Jews returning from the Nazi camps to Germany to start their lives anew. Obviously, they have varying results.

Ms. Schwarz follows them into the 21st century, although we often hear of those who did not make it that far.

She reminds us in many ways what a small world this is, and how humans can succeed under terrible odds.

If I had a criticism, I would say she was not harsh enough in reporting the facts as she found them. Reading this is like w
Amy Meyer
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz

Publisher: Harper Collins
Published Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-188177-0
Pages: 340
Genre: Contemporary Fiction;
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Book Summary: In May 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, finds himself among similarly displaced persons gathered in the Allied occupation zones of a defeated Germany. Possessing little besides a map, a few tins of food, and a talent for black-market trading, he must scrape together a new life i
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
In May 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, finds himself among similarly displaced persons gathered in the Allied occupation zones of a defeated Germany. Possessing little besides a map, a few tins of food, and a talent for black-market trading, he must scrape together a new life in a chaotic community of refugees, civilians, and soldiers. With fellow refugees Fela, a young widow, and Chaim, a resourceful teenager with impressive smuggling skills, Pavel ...more
Disappointing for such a great topic. I was thrilled after reading the cover, but stalled half way through the book...
Ellen Monrad
Feb 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Finished it but did not like. Was not what I expected or as reviewed.
Carrie Marcotte
Boring. Luckily, this was a library book.
A Million Pages
There are countless stories about what happened inside the concentration camps, but we never hear the stories after liberation. Ghita Schwarz gives insight into the life of displaced persons through several individuals who become intertwined in their attempts to move on after the war.

***Check out the rest of my review at
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. And, what a wasted opportunity! I was thrilled to get my hands on an advanced copy of this book that promised "small interactions" in the everyday lives of Holocaust survivors that "illuminated their struggle to adjust to American life". I was promised "indelible portraits of immigrants", shaped by the things they'd suffered and endured. How disappointed I was.

This was one of the most tepid tellings of immigrant struggles I've ever read. It wasn't that it was a horrible read, it'
Jul 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, vine, fiction
What started out as a pretty decent book became a chore. The first third of the book was intriguing, taking place in Germany during the Allied liberation. It introduces Pavel and follows his struggles to reestablish his life after the war that destroyed his family and displaced thousands of Jews. Despite the writing being very stylized (dialogue without the use of quotation marks), this section of the book was engaging and I was interested in the characters that Pavel encountered. The last two-t ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of quiet importance. I fell in love from the first line and am in love still, the last line resonating in my head. This is a book about survivors of the Holocaust stumbling back into life in the world of DP camps in Eastern Europe. It is a world I knew so little about, and yet it is the world of my own family. We all need to know about this world, and yet, even now, it is so rarely talked about.

We learn about the DP camps and beyond through the characters of Fela, Pavel, Chaim, an
Chris Wolak
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this novel doesn't put the reader directly in the shoes of the characters, which I don't think was the author's intention, you feel like you're standing next to them and seeing what they're going through. You witness their numbness, fear, hunger, the surreal feeling of being alive after what just happened, the rekindling of hope, the betrayals, the silence, the eventual public dialog about the Holocaust. I think Schwarz did an amazing job of creating a cohesive narrative that covers 65 yea ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, my expectations were different than the book. The story of finding a place in a world where you are not wanted is fascinating. Pavel et. al somehow find ways to make due. They live in a house, offer shelter to some, have babies, lose fortunes, start businesses, and get old.

The main problem I had with the book is the style of writing. I never really knew who was speaking and who the speaker was speaking to. Quotation marks are not used, at least in the first part of the book and I
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a favorite quote of mine is "god does not send thunder if a still, small voice is enough". not all books need to be loud and daring, with thrilling ups and downs and dramatic cliffhangers. sometimes a quite thing touches our hearts deeper than anything that shouts from the rooftops. this touched my heart.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who think that WWII ended in 1945, this book shows how the life of survivors, of the Nazi camps and others, continued to suffer for years - sometimes for a lifetime. It also shows the resilience of the human spirit and how lives can be rebuilt and communities made regardless of what people have been through. It's a really good book with a lot of heart and good characters.
Apr 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
The lack of quotation marks made it difficult to follow along and determine who was speaking. Also didn't seem to be much of a clear storyline going least in the first 38 pages because then I just gave up on it.
A story of Holocaust survivors once they are released from the camp and then when they immigrate to America. Somewhat haunting and very heartfelt.
I liked the book; however if you are looking for drama or fast paced action, this is not the book for you. The author intended it so. In a note at the novel's end, she observed that this is a book about the interior lives of a small group of Holocaust survivors who meet in a post-war displaced persons camp, each bearing a unique burden of trauma and loss.

The novel follows them from 1945-2000, chronicling "their grief and anger, their ordinary joys and stupid arguments, their strained relations w
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a rough read, but I believe it was a necessary evil-so many novels, fiction or non-fiction, focus on the suffering of Jewish peoples from all over Europe throughout the holocaust, and this is the first piece of media I've come into personal contact with that sheds light on what life was like for many of these people after the Holocaust. The title, 'Displaced Persons', rings absolutely true for what was suffered by a massively varied population. I would definitely recommend it to every ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books follows the lives of several Holocaust suvivors after they are liberated from the concentration camps. It shows their struggle to survive after their liberation, their migration to New York City and then their new lives with jobs, children and friends who had become family.
Displaced persons is a compelling novel that intensely touches on the Holocaust survivor, their post war experiences...emotionally, physically and spiritually, and their assimilation into new environments.

Pavel Mandl is a Polish Jew, and once liberated, continually searches for family members, and manages to survive and eek out an existence while surviving by trading on the black market. During his quest to find surviving family members, he encounters two refugees, a woman named Fela and a young
For many schoolchildren, Holocaust survivors were rescued by the Allies, and they lived happily ever after. This is the extent to which history books discuss the plight of the Jews and other political prisoners deemed unworthy to survive by the Nazi regime. Ghita Schwartz’ Displaced Persons disabuses this notion and showcases just what did happen to the hundreds of thousands of people from whom everything had been taken. It is by turns thrilling, thought-provoking, and always informative, as it ...more
Kristine Brancolini
I just finished reading Displaced Persons for my Jewish Book and Discussion Group. It was selected by the director of the Jewish Studies program at the university where I work. She is also an English professor, so I had high expectations for this book and I was not disappointed. Ghita Schwartz has beautifully captured the lives of a small group of Polish Holocaust survivors at three points in their lives: immediatley after World War II in Germany; 1960-1973 in New York; and 1989 to 2000 in New Y ...more
Zohar -
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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.

Victoria Stanton
Moments of brilliance set in an otherwise meandering, disjointed book.
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
First thoughts after finishing the last page: "Hmmm....the first part was great....not so sure about the last half."

I thought that Displaced Persons was a very original book in the way that the author told the story of what happened to the Jewish community that survived the Holocaust and the occupied countries. I was immediately drawn into the story from the beginning and felt such disgust and horror for those that were still being treated like animals long after the war ended. Even though these
When the war was over and Nazi concentration camps were liberated, survivors were taken to camps for displaced persons where their medical needs were addressed. But Europe, especially Eastern Europe, was in shambles. Survivors searched for family members and, more often than not, found that they alone had survived. The emotional devestation led to years of buried emotions and a feeling of not belonging. Displaced Persons, written by Ghita Schwarz, explores this emotional solitude over decades of ...more
Jonathan Lopez
In this powerful debut novel, author Ghita Schwarz, a child of Holocaust survivors, hypnotically spins the tale of a Polish Jew named Pavel who bravely rebuilds his shattered life in the aftermath of World War II.

It is May 1945. Pavel, recently liberated from a concentration camp, makes his way to a British-run relocation center where he befriends a young widow named Fela and a wayward teenage boy named Chaim, who has temporarily landed in trouble for trading on the black market. Pooling their m
Mar 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Good topic with real possibilities for a good read are destroyed by obscure writing and editing. How any readers claiming to like this book got anything much out of this piece of fiction is beyond me. The sentence structure, tense, dialog; are all choppy, confusing and difficult to understand. Perhaps that is the point? Refugee's suddenly released from captivity during war time can live in a fog? But should the reader have to live there as well? I have tremendous empathy for survivors of the hol ...more
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