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Ett kort uppehåll på vägen från Auschwitz by Göran Rosenberg

”A short stop on the road from Auschwitz”, in English.

The author claims that there are many stories about how people ended up in the concentration camps, all more or less resembling each other. There are less stories about the way out, and every way out is a unique story. What happens when confronted with the real world again? What thoughts and emotions are going to form the new life? And what happens when the bridge to the past is being forgotten by the world?

Rosenberg's parents survived the ghetto of Lodz, Auschwitz, the slave camps and the death transports. Their life shattered, they finally ended up in Södertälje, in Sweden. Rosenberg's father David liked Sweden, but never felt that he belonged. Without peace, he always wanted to take another step, hence the title.

Rosenberg earned the August prize 2012 for this story about his parents' struggle for a normal life, in a world that's forever altered but forgets fast. He addresses his father throughout the book, tries to learn to know him and follows in his never ending, fleeing footsteps. How difficult to live a normal life in a normal world, when knowing that one's life isn't normal and the world certainly has turned out to be everything but. The rest of the world lives on, as though nothing has happend, and Rosenberg thinks that just because of that, the survivors can't. The knowledge that others didn't survive prevents them from turning their backs on their past. Rosenberg reasons that the survivors might think they ought to have survived for a reason. For the horrible past to be remembered. Perhaps they think they owe it to the ones that didn't survive, and therefor they are trapped between their self declared purpose to remember and not wanting to. As difficult as it is to face, the past is catching up, anyway. So, what happens when the world moves on and the holocaust is nearly forgotten? Rosenberg's father wasn't the same as he used to be, and he wasn't like the people around him. Who was he if not confronted by the past? His place, where he had grown up, was destroyed and the place he had come to know as his new home was limited. Perhaps it would have been easier to heal if the world acknowledged the holocaust instead of trying to forget it. To share the self made responsibility of remembering all by himself.

It's really emotional to read about his father's frequent work situations, his search for something, the attempt to fill every moment with something that prevents the shadows from catching up with him. The saddest part is that David never really left Auschwitz. He was trapped, and the new environment didn't offer an opening. There was no way out.

Rosenberg honours his father in a truly heartbreaking, beautiful way, through fragments of memory, described with the most philosophical prose, and old letters between his mother and father. In a world that forgets, books like this one are the very foundation on which a better society could be built. We can't afford to view the holocaust as a distant event. We have to realize it's the world we live in to make it a better place.

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