Saturday, September 6, 2008

France During the Occupation

Somehow without thinking about it, I seem to have gotten myself into a rut defined by the Nazis. First it was reading Nancy Huston's novel, The Mark of an Angel, in which one of the characters, a German emigre to France, deals with toxic memories of her childhood during the war. Then, at the suggestion of a friend, I picked up The Book Thief not realizing that it too was set in Germany during 1930s and 40s. I also went with a friend to the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme to see an exhibit about the systematic looting of art owned by Jews by Hitler's minions. It was an interesting and sobering exhibition although it left me with a lot of unanswered questions. So off to the library I went to pick up The Lost Museum by Hector Feliciano that is filling in the gaps. Tens of thousands of works of art were stolen from collectors and dealers, some to fill new museums in Germany, others to satisfy the personal whims of Hitler and Goering. The work to return these pieces continues even today although sadly some pieces were never recovered; others remain in museums because the families who had owned them were victims of the final solution. All sobering memories of very dark days in which the actions of the French were not always honorable. The exhibit runs through the end of October.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I share your fascination with reading about the Occupation. You have probably already read Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, but if not I think you will like it. Another book about this era is Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I live in a Haussmann building and often wonder who lived here in the past. Maybe that's part of the fascination.
Thanks for the tips about The Book Thief and The Lost Museum. (I also read The Mark of the Angel and loved it.)

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