kelley's Reviews > Heidegger's Glasses

Heidegger's Glasses by Thaisa Frank
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Jan 16, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, kindle

Heideggers Glasses is a work of historical fiction. Ms. Frank concludes this work by stating, "This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." It's a good thing she reminds the reader that the book is a work of fiction. Ms. Frank so carefully weaves historical facts with her fictional threads in the story that it is impossible to distinguish where fact ends and fiction begins. The story is very well written and highly imaginative. It is not a light work, however. The historical base of the story comes from a program of the Reich entitled the Briefaktion, or Operation Mail. After completing the book I did some research on line and learned a few things. When the Jews were taken to Auschwitz--a killing center--the victims were required to write postcards or letters to home indicating that their resettlement was fine and they were in good health. All these cards had the same return address: Arbeitslager Birkenau, bei Neu-Berun, Oberschlesien. In contrast to prisoners in other camps, these new arrivals were not registered or given inmate numbers. Shortly after writing these postcards or letters, these individuals were killed.This mail was taken in bulk to Berlin for processing. Cachets were stamped on the correspondence indicating that replies were permitted only through the Association of Jews in Germany. Then, the correspondence was postmarked and mailed from several Berlin post offices. Ms. Franks imagination begins from this point. She creates an underground world where scribes with various language skills are kept prisoner and forced to answer the letters to the dead. During the course of the work the reader becomes aquainted with each of the scribes, their personalities and histories. The reader becomes deeply involved with the community. Elie is the central part of this community, the only one allowed to leave. She brings the letters and supplies. Elie is also on a personal mission, a mission to rescue all she can that are hiding from the Reich. When the the letter from German philosopher Heidegger arrives to his friend Asher, Elie is determined to rescue Asher from Auschwitz. This is the main thread of the story--the effort to save Asher.The story is heavy and sad, with brief moments of happiness overwhelmed with moments of horror. The ending is not satisfying but as in real life, dealing with hard things, endings are not always nice. The book requires the reader to invest themselves in the story, think and feel deeply. And to reflect on the course of history.

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