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Medallions by Zofia Nałkowska
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Medallions

by Zofia Nałkowska

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Esperanto
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
It's a shocking, factual account of the atrocities committed in Poland in different concentration camps, on the way to them, in Jewish ghettos, and other places of extermination. Nalkowska relates them with no comment, or apparent emotion. Only the motto to the collection hints at the author’s shock and disbelief: “Ludzie ludziom zgotowali ten los.” (People did it to people.)
The accounts come from the hearings of witnesses, detained workers at the camps, a German anatomy professor’s assistant (the professor himself- Dr Spanner- fled in 1944), a cook, an undertaker (or more accurately a woman who took care of graves), people from transports, and direct descriptions of what was left behind in situ. Nalkowska, a playwright and author, was a member of the commission called to examine the crimes against humanity committed during WW II in Poland.
Among the more shocking ones is the description of the production of soap from the cadavers’ fat, but contrary to popular belief, most prisoners in this particular institution in Gdansk-Wrzeszcz, were ethnic Poles.

I had to read it years ago as a part of the high school curriculum in Poland, and having just re-read it, I am equally shocked, and more confident than ever that everybody should read it just to remember what people are capable of.

By the way, there is no subtitle (Jewish Lives) in the Polish version, and in fact, the book is about the extermination of Poles, Jews, and other nations.

Link: Medaliony by Nalkowska (in Polish)
http://www.nowakowska.piwko.pl/materialy/lektury/zofia_nalkowska/medaliony.htm

Link to World War II Atrocities in Poland (Wikipedia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_crimes_against_ethnic_Poles
( )
  Niecierpek | Nov 26, 2006 |
Link to the text in Polish:
http://www.nowakowska.piwko.pl/materialy/lektury/zofia_nalkowska/medaliony.htm

“Posągi i medaliony potłuczone leżały wzdłuż alei. Groby z otwartymi wnętrzami ukazały w pękniętych trumnach swoich umarłych” (Kobieta cmentarna) ( )
  Niecierpek | Nov 26, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zofia Nałkowskaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuprel, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
"Nothing of the former world holds true anymore," Zofia nalkowska wrote in her Wartime Diaries on 7 May 1943. "Nothing has remained." The burning of the Warsaw ghetto had broken Nalkowska's privileged life in two; in the years to come, the need to bear witness to the horrors she had seen firsthand would lead this gifted member of the Polish avant-garde to write the stories in Medallions.
Considered a masterpiece of antifascist world literature, Medallions stands as a culmination of Nalkowska's literary style - a style that the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz once described as "the iron capital of her art and one of the very few exportables in our national literature." Nalkowska's narratives, written in documentary form with simple, concise, severely elegant prose, give voice to the experience of victims and witnesses of the Nazi genocide.
Medallions includes 7 short stories and one summation, "The Adults and Children of Auschwitz". These terse, sometimes fragmented pieces take the form of testimonials, private interviews, and chance conversations in which the protagonists, speaking for themselves, with their sometimes limited understanding of the human drama, also speak on behalf of millions. More than mere historical record, Medallions offers the reader startling immediacy - the repetition of a past event as it persists in the testimonial present, in the scars on the consciousness and conscience of individuals.
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