MEMOIR

Those Who Forget: My Family’s Story in Nazi Europe–A Memoir, A History, A Warning

Scribner. Sept. 2020. 320p. & translated from French by Laura Marris. ISBN 9781501199080. $28.. HIST
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In her debut, journalist and documentary filmmaker Schwarz offers a powerful and unflinching look at Germany during World War II and Europe’s postwar reckoning with far-right nationalism, and calls for readers not to forget the painful lessons learned. Using her own family as a framework, she brings to life Germans who were complicit in Nazi atrocities; for example, her grandfather was a member of the Nazi Party because it gave him more business opportunities. Schwarz describes a collective amnesia after the war; a denial of wrongdoing until the 1960s, when a combination of factors contributed to radical change in the way Germany viewed the past, including demand from younger generations that their parents take responsibility for what they did and didn’t do. This “memory work” requires an examination of the past with an intersecting ethical and historical viewpoint, and Schwarz believes that such work is vital in preventing a lapse into far-right nationalism, which she connects to several contemporary movements across the Western world. ­
VERDICT In searing yet engaging prose, Schwarz makes her case for the need for memory work in this highly recommended read for fans of memoirs and World War II history.

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