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Le Dernier des Justes

One Levy of each succeeding generation This terrifying and remarkable legacy is traced over eight centuries from the Spanish Inuisition to expulsions from England France Portugal Germany and Russia and to the small Polish village of Zemyock where the Levys settle for two centuries in relative peac. This book written in 1959 was one of the early accountings of the atrocities inflicted on Jews in Europe during World War II The novel caused a sensation in France when it was released just five years after the end of WW II and the blurb says the Prix Goncourt was awarded early specifically to recognize this book The author who just became a teenager as the war began lost both of his parents in concentration camps The main character is a young boy who is so humiliated by his teachers and classmates that he attempts suicide There are many parallels with the Jewish boy in the novel The Oppermanns by Leon Feuchtwanger including the idea that some German Jews considered themselves German than Jewish but in the end that did not save them It s all here the terror the brutality the senselessness of the persecutions the pervasive terror of the times The book begins as a family saga following several generations of this particular family lineage of just men There is a lot of history of the family in the book going back to 1200 but the story comes to focus around World War II The title comes from the Jewish tradition of a just man which can be inherited although not necessarily so as the just man sometimes skips a generation Fathers are sometimes surprised by which of their sons or grandsons becomes the just man The role of the just man is to take on 136 of the suffering of the world or at least to be cognizant of that suffering There s a lot of suffering to go around so the earth reuires 36 just men A classic line from the book let us speak rather of something gay What s new about the war There are no happy endings in this work

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E It is in the twentieth century that Ernie Levy emerges The Last of the Just in 1920s Germany as Hitler’s sinister star is on the rise and the agonies of Auschwitz loom on the horizon This classic work long unavailable in a trade edition is one of those few novels that once read is never forgott. An absolutely essential read for anyone who has any interest whatsoever in trying to understand the Holocaust It is a singular work and one of the most powerful novels I have ever read The ending is something that I will never get out of my mind Devastating Identity century that Ernie Levy emerges The Last of the Just in 1920s Germany as Hitler’s sinister star is on the rise and the agonies of Auschwitz loom on the horizon This Cenote classic work long unavailable in a trade edition is one of those few novels that once read is never forgott. An absolutely essential read for anyone who has any interest whatsoever in trying to understand the Holocaust It is a singular work and one of the most powerful novels I have ever read The ending is something that I will never get out of my mind Devastating

André Schwarz-Bart é 2 Characters

On March 11 1185 in the old Anglican city of York the Jews of the city were brutally massacred by their townsmen As legend has it God blessed the only survivor of this medieval pogrom Rabbi Yom Tov Levy as one of the Lamed Vov the thirty six Just Men of Jewish tradition a blessing which extended to. THE LAST OF THE JUST Andre Schwarz Bart s novel of remembranceAs an under grad at the University of Alabama I often spent my time between classes at a college bookstore Malone s or at The Alabama Bookstore Malone s was ultimately gobbled up by their competition However both stores offered shelves of literature that freuently caught my eye and my meager fundsThe Last of the Just by Andr Schwarz Bart was one of the many books I bought during my college days I skipped lunch that day to buy it I was skinny then too had hair muscles and the world on a string I still have my original paperback copy boxed away but readily obtainable This is a book I remember as clearly today as when I first read it too many years agoIt was a visit to my next door neighbor last night that prompted me to review it today As I have mentioned before my neighbor is one of my former psychology professors We raid one another s bookshelves on a regular basisOld Uncle Howard as he calls himself to me is something of a father figure And I have officially been made a member of the Miller family Howard is Jewish but considers himself so culturally not spiritually as he will tell you in a heartbeat Not since nine have I believedHow can you know I asked him He grunted Occam s Razor remember your history and systems of psychology courseBut there had to be some initial causation wouldn t you say I retorted From a standpoint of intellectual honesty the only thing we can say within reason is I don t know Grunt GrrrmphThe Millers lost a son to cancer a year or so before I became their neighbor Sometimes I think I may have become adopted Of late when I visit I have dined with them My place is set between them Old Uncle Howard at the head of the table to my right his wife to the leftInterestingly although claiming to be a non believer Howard says Kaddish for his son each year He has shown me his yarmulke his brother s and his father s which he keeps carefully packed away His Hebrew flows as a song During Hanukkah the Menorah was in view and Howard bought a Hanukkah table clothIt was around that time I borrowed The Complete Mausby Art Spiegelman from him I had never read it though I was familiar with it I was stunned as I previously indicated in my review of itWhen I returned Maus to Uncle Howard we discussed it as we always do about our reading I mentioned that Art Spiegelman had published MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic Maus Howard s response was two eyebrows archly raised punctuated by an enthusiastic and curious Really His wife always shares in our talks She is as voracious a reader as many of us areA few days later when I popped over to check on them Margaret said I have to show you something She excitedly opened a box from It was MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic Maus I saw the look on Howard s face when you were telling him about it She s very observant smileSo yesterday I ambled over to take them a whopping big bowl of hopping john collards and southern cornbread that means no sugar in the bread thank you very much Sugar in cornbread is an abomination You want sugar eat cakeHoward and I were chatting I never saw your response when you opened MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic Maus What did you thinkNow that s a BOOK His face was almost luminous as he answered I was wandering Do you think there is a way to get Art Spiegelman to sign thisI told him I was sure there might be some way I suggested a personal letter to the publisher who would forward it to Spiegelman through his editor or agentGood A letter I can write I should tell him about my grandparents in AuschwitzYou ve never told meOh the subject just never came up beforeUh huhSometimes I wonder that I was ever born They were two of the lucky ones I could have been somebody else or nothing at allAnd that led me to ask him if he had ever read The Last of the Just No Tell me about itSo I told him Today I write to tell you about itFrom WikiMystical Hasidic Judaism as well as other segments of Judaism believe that there is the Jewish tradition of 36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God Tradition holds that their identities are unknown to each other and that if one of them comes to a realization of their true purpose then they may die and their role is immediately assumed by another personThe Lamed Vav Tzaddikim are also called the Nistarim concealed ones In our folk tales they emerge from their self imposed concealment and by the mystic powers which they possess they succeed in averting the threatened disasters of a people persecuted by the enemies that surround them They return to their anonymity as soon as their task is accomplished concealing themselves once again in a Jewish community wherein they are relatively unknown The lamed vavniks scattered as they are throughout the Diaspora have no acuaintance with one another On very rare occasions one of them is discovered by accident in which case the secret of their identity must not be disclosed The lamed vavniks do not themselves know that they are ones of the 36 In fact tradition has it that should a person claim to be one of the 36 that is proof positive that they are certainly not one Since the 36 are each exemplars of anavah humility having such a virtue would preclude against one s self proclamation of being among the special righteous The 36 are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 3611Rabbi Zwerin s Sermon Kol Nidre The 36 Who are they The Rebbe s sermon is a fascinating read its selfAndr Schwarz Bart s life is something to ponder about as much as his novel The Last of the Just Born May 28 1928 Metz Moselle Schwarz Bart was a Frenchman of Polish Jewish origins His parents moved to France in 1924In 1941 Schwarz Bart s parents were seized by the Nazis and transported to Auschwitz Schwarz Bart escaped the round up and joined the French Resistance still a teenager His parents died at Auschwitz His war time experiences and the deaths of his parents resulted in Le Dernier des Justes published in France in 1959 taking the Prix de Grancourt in the same year It appeared in English translated by Stephen Becker as The Last of the Just published by Atheneum in 1960Schwarz Bart uses the realm of the Lamed Vav Tzaddikim to tell the story of the Levy family beginning in 1105 England with the earliest known member of the family to be one of the thirty six righteous What follows is a horror story of hate inuisitions intolerance murder and pogroms as we watch each generation assume the burden of responsibility and guilt for the evils of humanity to justify the existence of lifeWe end with Ernie a teen aged boy who could pass for a gentile but enters the maelstrom of the holocaust He is the last of his line How can one man absorb the burden of the final solution to justify the existence of humanityThis book remains as alive for me today as when I first read it almost forty years or ago And I ve read it since It still haunts meIn 1991 Michael Dorris writing for the LA Times said Every page demands to know Why How could this abomination have happened Whether Jewish or Gentile we are reminded how easily torn is the precious fabric of civilization and how destructive are the conseuences of dumb hatred whether a society s henchmen are permitted to beat an Ernie Levy because he s Jewish or because he s black or gay or Hispanic or homeless The novel endures precisely because it forces us to empathize and thus to remember was once an international sensation seems to have faded into obscurity A first edition of the first American edition can be picked up for a song I think I ll buy one no two One for me and one for Uncle HowardAndre Schwarze Bart died of complications following heart surgery on September 30 2006 Pointe Pitre Guadeloupe I will remember him Should you read this wonderful book so will youMay there be abundant peacefrom Heavenand good lifefor us and for all Israel and let s say to it Amen From the Mourner s Kaddish


10 thoughts on “Le Dernier des Justes

  1. says:

    “ It is said that at all times there are 36 special people in the world and that were it not for them all of them if even one of them was missing the world would come to an end The two Hebrew letters for 36 are the lamed which is 30 and the vav which is six Therefore these 36 are referred to as the Lamed Vav Tzadikim This widely held belief this most unusual Jewish concept is based on a Talmudic statement to the effect that in

  2. says:

    THE LAST OF THE JUST Andre Schwarz Bart's novel of remembranceAs an under grad at the University of Alabama I o

  3. says:

    How common is a phase of Shoah exploration? I found it rather odd and off outting when I fell into a period in my early 20s I was nearly obsessed and read constantly from scholarly analyses memoirs and novels I

  4. says:

    One of my favorite pieces of realistic fiction Schwarz Bart's book is nothing less than a masterpiece The book examines antisemitism throughout

  5. says:

    This book written in 1959 was one of the early accountings of the atrocities inflicted on Jews in Europe during World War II The novel caused a sensation in France when it was released just five years after the end

  6. says:

    it is difficult to find words to describe a book that i look back upon as one of the most brilliant yet difficult reads of my life andre' schwarz bart winner of the Prix Goncourt is an author extraordinnaire a genius of a writer who might no

  7. says:

    All I can say is that this book made me weep Literally If you read this book and are unmoved by the terrible inh

  8. says:

    Amongst the literature of the Holocaust this is an absolute masterpiece It's based on a twist of the Chassidic legend that

  9. says:

    An absolutely essential read for anyone who has any interest whatsoever in trying to understand the Holocaust It is a sin

  10. says:

    A great book that I must re read

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