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REVIEW: Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death

Posted by Mark Cantrell on April 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM

A haunting reflection on

memories of Auschwitz

In the last piece I wrote for Cheshire Today, before the boss headed off with it to pastures new, I reviewed this haunting and haunted personal reminiscence of the Holocaust by the historian Otto Dov Kulka. Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death is dream-like and poetic, at times surreal, but no less a lucid reflection on memory and experience

Beauty in the midst of Auschwitz must seem a strange concept, but that is one of the many apparent paradoxes one might perceive in Otto Dov Kulka’s personal testament to the Holocaust.


Certainly, as Kulka himself relays in ‘Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death’, the author is himself struck by the strangeness of the observation, yet as his own words testify “the blue of the sky in this land is many times stronger than any blue one can see anywhere else”. This was in Auschwitz; surrounded by so much senseless death, constrained by the bleak landscape of the camp, the colour blue takes on a whole new intensity.


The strangeness is compounded by the strangest phenomenon of all, the family camp, so-called, where the boy Kulka found himself living amidst a strange discontinuity of normal family and cultural life, yet immersed at the very same time in the continuation of cultural and social living. In stark contrast to the by-now-familiar images of Auschwitz, here there were no striped uniforms, no shaven heads; there were choirs, and schools maintained, intellectual activity, a semblance of life. Again, paradoxical, contradictory, the way the inmates of the camp continued to cling to the norms and practices, one might say the very fabric of civilised society – indeed that they were allowed to – amidst the wastelands of death that lay all around them.


But what was the family camp?


Find out by reading the whole review over at Cheshire Today.




Cheshire Today, 19 February 2013

Categories: JOURNALISM, BOOKS, REVIEWS

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