I want to talk about a certain time not measured in months and years.
Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Estimated at 1.7 million men, its troops--highly mechanized and with superior air power--rapidly overwhelmed the mobilized but outnumbered and ill-equipped Polish forces. By the end of September Poland surrendered, its army was demobilized, and Germany and its then-ally the Soviet Union divided up the devastated country. The Germans were determined to carry out their racial policies, to make the newly incorporated Polish territories judenrein (Jew-free). They began a massive program of roundups, ghettoization, deportation, and mass murder. Poland still bears the scars.
Excavating what she calls "the ruins of memory," Ida Fink remembers those events. So devastating that they cannot be "measured in months and years," her scraps of Holocaust time shatter the continuity of experience. Fink's voice merits hearing early on in this book because she reminds one of the difficulty and the importance of remembering.
Fink was born in Poland in 1921. German occupation of her country curtailed her study of music. Ghettoized in 1942, she survived the "Final Solution" in hiding. She emigrated to Israel in 1957 and went on to a distinguished writing career. In 1985 her book of autobiographical short stories, A Scrap of Time, won the first Anne Frank Prize for Literature. More recently she published The Journey, a novel about the Holocaust.
The issues Fink raises about memory and the Holocaust do not respect gender differences. And yet her writing makes it worth remembering that experience and