Sylvia Rothchild: On "Holocaust"

Holocaust, published in 1975, is written in the same, dry, spare style as the early testimonies. The twelve chapters are counted off like the plagues afflicting the Egyptians before the exodus. Altogether they are a remarkably accurate record of deportation, invasion, research, of ghettos, massacres, gas chambers and trucks, work camps, treatment of children, the sadistic entertainments, the mass graves, marches and escapes. Reznikoff in a hundred and eleven pages has left us with his version of the record, as much and more than we will ever need to know. He tells about the rare good men, "A priest in Germany would find Jews shelter," as well as about the S.S. squads "whipping those who lingered," about "the children screaming Mama as--they're taken into trucks," and about the deceptions used to lure and confuse the victims. The details, reported by witnesses, document a collapse of Western civilization.

[. . . .]

His Holocaust testimonies are unsentimental, unreligious, unvarnished with mystical consolations. He is more explicit than many survivors care to be. He also seems determined not to exploit the tragedy for any purposes beyond its own credibility. He wrote as if to a morally responsible world, capable of feeling outrage. His Auschwitz was not Elie Wiesel's holy mystery or William Styron's "fatal embolism in the bloodstream of mankind," but a real place where men and women lived and died without witnesses, and mourners.

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Title Sylvia Rothchild: On "Holocaust" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Milton Hindus Criticism Target Charles Reznikoff
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 25 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication "From a Distance and Up Close: Charles Reznikoff and the Holocaust"
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