This remarkable blend of personal narrative and uncluttered research explores both the author’s need to enhance and transform her Jewish identity and the capacity of the Lithuanian people to deal productively with the issues raised by Lithuania’s participation in Hitler’s destruction of its Jews. Wishing to immerse herself in the Jewish culture of her ancestors, the author travels to Vilnius for a summer of study. Here, while taking a strenuous course in Yiddish language and literature, she avails herself of every opportunity to learn about the Holocaust in Lithuania, as well as the conditions of Jewish life during the periods of Russian and Soviet rule surrounding the Nazi reign.
Revelations by her great-uncle, a member of the Jewish police under Nazi occupation, lead Cassedy to track down those individuals who shared his experience. She also explores the experiences and present attitudes of the non-Jews who had assisted their condemned neighbors and those other Lithuanians who had been bystanders – indifferent or fearful witnesses. How do those people feel, now, about their behavior then? What did they learn from their experiences? What, if anything, did Lithuania learn?
To read the full review, as it appears in the online version of Jewish Book World, click here: We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
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