Aurelia Paris

The War

Marguerite Duras ends her memoirs of the aftermath to World War II with a story she wrote back then (subsequently revised) called Aurelia Paris. It’s very short but powerful. The scene is an apartment where a older woman has assumed the care of a young girl after the girl’s parents were taken by the German police. The woman sits outside the door with a pistol, expecting to kill the German police when they come and then turn the gun on the girl and herself to guarantee that they will not be captured.

At the same time, they are in the flightpath of the heavy bombers heading for Berlin and half-expect to be blown up every time they hear the roar of the planes’ engines. The girl is attuned to the sound of the planes and can report their positions across the map of Europe.

A simple story but, as I said, powerful.

The entire collection titled The War is a vivid recollection of the horrors and the intense human emotions that came with the war. A very important work and highly recommended.

The man in the concentration camp at Belsen

BelsinThere are an awful lot of them. There really are huge numbers of dead. Seven million Jews have been exterminated—transported in cattle cars, the gassed in specially built gas chambers, then burned in specially built ovens. In Paris, people don’t talk about the Jews yet. Their infants were handed over to female officials responsible for the strangling of Jewish babies and experts in the art of killing by applying pressure on the carotid arteries. They smile and say it’s painless. This new face of death that has been discovered in Germany—organized, rationalized—produces bewilderment before it arouses indignation. You’re amazed. How can anyone still be a German? You look for parallels elsewhere and in other times, but there aren’t any.

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