Hitler Made Me a Jew

 by Nadia Gould


Hitler Made Me a Jew by Nadia Gould book cover
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Nadia Gould's narrative is like her paintings. Both are strong, witty, rich in detail, and thoroughly engaging. Nadia Gould writes of her early years in Europe, of leaving her mother and father, fleeing the Holocaust, and growing up in New York City. One of her paintings provides the cover image. - The Publisher

In the evening they took us to the railroad station. They told us not to speak to anyone or even to one another. We were mute and deaf. There was a notice with our passports that explained we could not speak. This was the most excruciating train ride. We had to keep from talking and giving ourselves away. Every time someone opened the door of our train compartment I died of fright. This feeling has remained with me, and anything that has to do with telling an untruth to an official causes me anxiety, as if my life depends on the lie. I still fear I will be found out, uncovered and shot on the spot.

I wrote this book seven years ago. At that time there was much controversy over whether the Holocaust had really happened. I was so upset by articles denying that the Holocaust had happened that I decided to put down my experiences-even if my experiences were light in comparison to the horrors that went on in the concentration camps. Not one day goes by that I don't think about the Holocaust in Germany, Poland, and other countries, and about the silent people who let it happen. I feel grateful to the scholars who are gathering the data of what happened during those years and particularly in 1940 because it was the year that Hitler made me a "Jew."

I am a painter and writing was a challenge for me. It became a meditation. I decided to remember as far back as I could, to keep the images clear, to be as honest as I could, and to try to recapture the feelings I had as a child. Then I realized I would have to write about my parents and all the people in my life. I was concerned that I would be gossiping. I decided it didn't matter, that what mattered was recording what I remembered and not making it pretty, except where it fit my recollection-to think that way gave me a sensibility of purity.

I was able to get into the same states of mind with writing as I get into when I paint, and the technique worked well for me. Reading back what I wrote was more difficult and upsetting and not at all as when I can tell whether my paintings are goo

 

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