And Yet I Still Have Dreams: A Sto­ry of a Cer­tain Loneliness

Joan­na Wiszniewicz; Regi­na Grol, trans.
  • Review
By – August 15, 2012
Alex,” the nar­ra­tor of this mem­oir of the Holo­caust expe­ri­ence, is a real per­son who did not want his iden­ti­ty revealed because it would be rec­og­nized. The author, liv­ing in Poland, was asked to meet with Alex” when he vis­it­ed Poland in 1992. The orig­i­nal 900 pages of inter­views became this unusu­al 132 page nar­ra­tive with a dif­fer­ent slant on the Holo­caust, Jew­ish iden­ti­ty and the Nazis, accord­ing to Alex.” 

Alex” does not con­sid­er the Jews heroes for hav­ing sur­vived, includ­ing him­self. He does not demo­nize the Nazis although he expe­ri­enced the War­saw ghet­to, forced march­es and con­cen­tra­tion camps. He crit­i­cizes Amer­i­can Jews for their intense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the Holo­caust. He believes that instead of nev­er again,” Amer­i­can Jews should put the Holo­caust behind them. Of course, few sur­vivors agree with him. 

His back­ground is a con­fus­ing mix of tra­di­tion­al Judaism and sec­u­lar pur­suits. I have always felt detached from life.” His Holo­caust expe­ri­ence is a fas­ci­nat­ing nar­ra­tive, quite dif­fer­ent from most of the oth­ers that have been record­ed. The war peri­od remains murky in my mind.”

Alex’s” lib­er­a­tion took place when he was 18. His res­i­dence in the Stuttgart Dis­placed Per­sons’ Camp was the hap­pi­est peri­od of my life.” An uncle invit­ed Alex” to the Unit­ed States in 1946. Edu­ca­tion led him to a career in com­put­ers. He con­tin­ued to be annoyed with the con­cept of We’ve sur­vived to bear wit­ness.” The com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the Holo­caust in the Unit­ed States con­tin­ued to dis­gust him. 

This unusu­al reac­tion to the Holo­caust expe­ri­ence should be read for its con­trast­ing views and lit­er­ary appeal. Index, maps.
Arlyne Samuels a grad­u­ate of Brook­lyn Col­lege, taught and super­vised Eng­lish in New York City for 40 years. She was the coor­di­na­tor of the book club of the Greater Worces­ter (MA) Chap­ter of Hadas­sah. Arlyne passed away in May 2009 and will be missed by the Jew­ish Book World team.

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