Ghosts of Home: The After­life of Czer­nowitz in Jew­ish Memory

Mar­i­anne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer
  • Review
By – August 25, 2011
In 1945, Mar­i­anne Hirsch’s par­ents left Czer­nowitz. Over 60 years lat­er, they returned for the first time accom­pa­nied by Hirsch, a lit­er­ary schol­ar, and her hus­band, his­to­ri­an Leo Spitzer. Ghosts of Home, which is based on this jour­ney and three sub­se­quent trips that were under­tak­en by Hirsch and Spitzer over a peri­od of ten years, is an impor­tant and com­pelling exam­i­na­tion of the sec­ond generation’s” attempts to grap­ple with the lega­cy of the Holo­caust. Hirsch and Spitzer tie the sto­ries of their jour­neys to the geog­ra­phy and com­plex his­to­ry of Czer­nowitz and to the sto­ries of those who called the city home. In a rich­ly tex­tured nar­ra­tive, the authors com­bine their voic­es with oral his­to­ry, pho­tographs, and writ­ten records, as well as with the obser­va­tions and mem­o­ries of Hirsch’s par­ents, their trav­el­ling com­pan­ions, and a group of indi­vid­u­als asso­ci­at­ed with an online Czer­nowitz forum with whom they returned on their final trip. By sit­u­at­ing Hirsch’s pre­vi­ous work on fam­i­ly and post­mem­o­ry with­in the con­text of her fam­i­ly his­to­ry, Hirsch and Spitzer expose the com­plex lay­ers that inform our under­stand­ing of the past.

Discussion Questions