Please buy some cigarettes: Holocaust Remembrance Day



Come buy some cigarettes!

The night is cold, and all around is dark;

A boy stands there and looks around;

Only a wall protects him from the rain.

In his hand is a little tray,

And his eyes beckon everyone who goes by.

I no longer have the strength left

To walk about the streets;

I’m hungry, disheveled and wet from the rain.

I shlep around from the day’s beginning;

Nobody wants to do business with me.

They all laugh and make fun of me

Come buy some cigarettes!

They’re dry, the rain did not get to them.

They’re real cheap, it’s true;

Buy them and have pity on me;

Save me from hunger…

S-a stins din viata un marturisitor: In memoriam Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)


Motto: “Eu cred că orice exilat trebuie să se identifice cu Elie Wiesel.”–Ioan Petru Culianu

A stiut ce inseamna agonia, durerea, jalea. Si-a pierdut familia in Holocaust. A supravietuit pentru a depune marturie. A stiut ca garantiile civilizatiei moderne sunt mereu amenintate de barbarie. A inteles ca barbaria poate lua chipul progresului tehnologic. Nu a nutrit iluzii despre niciuna dintre intruchiparile totalitarismului. A scris un roman despre noaptea poetilor asasinati in urma simulacrului de proces impotriva Comitetului Evreiesc Antifascist organizat de Stalin si clica sa. A facut din apararea memoriei o datorie existentiala. In 2003, Elie Wiesel a prezidat Comisia Internationala privind Holocaustul din Romania. Institutul aflat in subordinea premierului Romaniei care se ocupa de originile, dinamica si efectele Holocaustului din Romania ii poarta numele.

Venea din mica burghezie a evreimii transilvane. O categorie sociala si etnica anihilata de nazism. La Sighet, am vizitat acum cativa ani Casa Memoriala “Elie Wiesel”. Este la doi pasi de Muzeul Memorial al Victimelor Comunismului. Locuri de memorie pe o harta insangerata. Aparator al tuturor prigonitlor, un umanist dintr-o specie tot mai rara, Elie Wiesel a primit Premiul Nobel pentru Pace. L-a binemeritat. Sa-i fie memoria eterna! Omenirea ii va fi de-a pururi indatorata…

Totalitarismul sub lupa: Hannah Arendt si Sigmund Neumann


On his FB page, political scientist Marius Stan publishes a picture with two major students of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, accompanied by an excellent commentary: “Neumann’s groundbreaking book “Permanent Revolution: The Total State in a World War” (1942) deals with the structural framework which distinguishes modern dictatorship from the 19th century state. He was among the first scholars to discuss the role and the figure of the political lieutenant (or, in his own words, “the forgotten man”). SN was fully committed to the comparative study of politics (His credo: “To know thyself, compare thyself to others.”)  Nowadays, the city of Dresden, this powerful symbol of destruction and war, has the privilege to host two important institutions: Hannah Arendt Institute for the Research on Totalitarianism & Sigmund Neumann Institute for the Research on Freedom and Democracy. Neumann tackled the concept of “totalitarianism” quite early (“always on a march that never ends, incessantly at war with a world that it can not possess,” therefore its character of “permanent revolution”), Arendt added a much needed philosophical touch and turned it into a key-concept for the modern political science…”

Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.

In memoria lui Mircea Ivanescu: Despre Hannah Arendt, Sf Augustin si problema libertatii


Lecturi esentiale:”Originile totalitarismului” de Hannah Arendt, traducere din engleza de Mircea Ivanescu si Ion Dur, in colectia “Istorie contemporana” pe care o coordonez la Humanitas impreuna cu Cristian Vasile. Aceasta este cartea de baza daca vrem sa intelegem natura dominatiei totalitare, raportul dintre ideologie si teroare, problema Raului radical, afinitatile si convergentele dintre cele doua incarnari ale Diavolului in Istorie, comunismul si fascismul.

In pofida legitimului pesimism generat de experientele infernale ale veacului XX, cartea se incheie cu o adiere de speranta. Hannah Arendt, care si-a sustinut doctoratul cu Karl Jaspers despre conceptul iubirii la Sf Augustin, reia, in 1952, ideea ca “Beginning is the supreme capacity of man . . . initium ut esset homo creatus est” ‘that a beginning be made man was created,’ said Augustine. This beginning is guaranteed by each new birth; it is indeed every man.”, odata cu venirea pe lume a fiecarui om, se mai naste o data sansa libertatii (citez din memorie). Pe 26 martie 2016, marele poet Mircea Ivanescu, care a trait in doua totalitarisme si le-a detestat in egala masura, ar fi implinit 85 de ani…

¡Ay Carmela!


 Spain, 1938, International Brigades Hospital, left, my father, born in Soroca, Bessarabia, then part of the Russian Empire, in February 1913, whose right arm was amputated live, without anesthesia, during the battle on the river Ebro, the fiercest battle in an atrociuos war. Next to him, my mother., Hermina Marcusohn, born in Botosani in 1915, a Medical School student in Bucharest and nurse at the Vic hospital, in front, my mother’s closest friend Sanda Sauvard, later to be deported to Auschwitz and Ravensbruck. At the right, Maurice Sauvard, a French worker from Toulouse, wounded in the same battle. Sanda (Sara) and Maurice got married soon thereafter. They both fought in the maquis. He died in 1946. She returned to Romania, never got remarried. Growing up in an atheistic Jewish family, I didn’t have godparents. But, vicariously, she was my godmother.

Whenever I needed something, money, advice, psychological support etc, I knew aunt Sanda was there for me. On her right arm I first saw the tatoo number. The head of Vic hospital was doctor Wilhelm Glaser. His daughter, Erica, was later adopted by Noel Field. Arrested in East Berlin, she was sentenced to death, then deported to the Gulag.We visited Vic, Marius and me, in June 2015. No one remembers that, once upon a time, this was a vibrantly cosmopolitan place, with hundreds of people speaking all the languages of the earth. Memory for me, perhaps, post-memory for Marius. From the Spanish Civil war to the Cold War. Mark Kramer, I did not forget about my reviews for JCWS, they will arrive soon

Les fours crématoires


Once upon a time, there was a Jewish life in Central Europe. With music, art, schools, theaters, cafes, religion, politics. It was all annihilated. Wholeness was followed by nothingness. The dead cannot be brought back to life. The story is, for intents and purposes, over. There were persecutions in the 1930s and before, but there was survival, as well. And not any survival, but a creative one. Hitler’s monstruous deed was to obliterate all this. As if it had never existed. Rescuing memory remains a moral urgency. I still remember what Karen Dawisha said, in 1989, during a dinner in Bryn Mawr, at our dear friend, the late University of Pennsylvania professor Alvin Z. Rubinstein and his wife Frankie’s ‘s place: “The Holocaust is the key to understanding Central Europe.” Thanks, Maria Bucur, for posting this. I wish I were in San Francisco to visit this exhibition!

Milena’s Dream


In June 1921, Milena Jesenská, the Czech journalist and writer whom Franz Kafka loved passionately, had a foreboding dream, frighteningly anticipating her own fate. She died in KZ Ravensbrück on May 17, 1944: “I was infinitely far from my homeland–in America? in China?–somewhere at the other end of the world, when a war or the plague broke out across the globe, or perhaps it was a deluge. I hadn’t heard any details about the catastrophe. But I was torn away by a mad hurry—-haste and excitement. I didn’t know where we were fleeing. Nor did I ask why. Endless trains pulled out from a station into the world, one after the other, all of them overloaded. Panic seized the railroad employees; no one wanted to be the last one left behind. People fought for seats as if they were fighting for their lives. Immense crowds stood beteen the station and me, and it was pointless trying pushing through, I was desperate. ‘I’m young, I can’t die,” I cried.” It is impossible not to sense the terrible premonition. It is impossible not to be shaken by this text…