Good Neighbors, Bad Times

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-12-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr

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Mimi Schwartz grew up on milkshakes and hamburgersand her father's boyhood stories. She rarely took the stories seriously. What was a modern American teenager supposed to make of these accounts of a village in Germany where, according to her father, "before Hitler, everyone got along"? It was only many years later, when she heard a remarkable story of the Torah from that very village being rescued by Christians on Kristallnacht, that Schwartz began to sense what these stories might really mean. Thus began a twelve-year quest covering three continents as Schwartz sought answers in the historical records and among those who remembered that time. Welcomed into the homes of both the Jews who had fled the village fifty years earlier and the Christians who had remained, Schwartz heard countless stories about life in one small village before, during, and after Nazi times. Sometimes stories overlapped, sometimes one memory challenged another, but always they seemed to muddy the waters of easy judgment. How, this book asks, do neighbors maintain a modicum of decency in such times of political extremism when fear and hatred strain the bonds of loyalty and neighborly compassion? How do we negotiate evil and remain humane when, as in the Nazi years, hate rules?

Author Biography

Mimi Schwartz is the author of five books, including Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed, available in a Bison Books edition, and Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (with Sondra Perl). She won a Pushcart Prize for her essay “Telling the Truth that Matters.” A professor emerita at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, Schwartz teaches workshops in memoir and creative nonfiction nationwide and abroad.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Author's Notep. xiii
Close to Home
Treadmill to the Pastp. 3
Anonymous Translationp. 8
At the Nachmittagp. 17
Kaffeeklatschp. 24
Joie de Vivrep. 35
Four Stories of the Torahp. 48
The Revolving Roomp. 59
An Ocean Away
Off the Recordp. 75
A Little Respect, Pleasep. 95
The Good Raincoatp. 102
Hedwig, Fritz, and "Schtumpela"p. 113
The Second Generationp. 122
Back and Forth
Willy from Baltimorep. 139
Five Kilometers Awayp. 151
Katherine of Dornp. 164
Truth Transposedp. 175
What Willy's Neighbor Says...p. 177
The Red Albump. 180
Where Legend Endsp. 193
At My Father's Gravep. 203
End Points
The Other Miriamp. 213
Three Little Girlsp. 221
Yes or No?p. 234
The Celebrationp. 243
Acknowledgmentsp. 259
Discussion Questionsp. 261
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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