Nonfiction — print. Translated from the Czech and the German by Mariánka Zadikow May. University of Chicago Press, 2008. 280 pgs. Library copy.
Secretly crafted from pilfered materials at the Terezín (known as Theresienstadt by the Germans) concentration camp in September 1944, twenty-one-year-old Zadikow’s autograph book is a collection of signatures, poems, and drawings by her fellow inmates.
In several instances, people signed her book the day before their deportation from Terezín to Auschwitz. Many of them did not serve. This is the last time they ever signed their name.
The book includes a seventeen page introduction to the camp and Marianka’s personal story by Dwork as well as footnotes on each page by Dwork stating what happened to the signers. Zadikow’s original album is scanned so that the yellowed pages of her journal are printed opposite of the translations (done by Zadikow herself) and the footnotes.
I am not one to have books on my coffee table, but this is a book I would place out on my table for people to see. Some of the prints are just down right beautiful (see left); others are haunting. Terezín was unique in that culture thrived. Mariánka survived the camp due to a clerical error, but she attributes the music of the camp as the savior of her soul. The drawings, music notes, and signatures attest to the importance symphonies and operas played in her time at the camp.
I do not want my wish to place this on my coffee table to read as an insult to the authors. The conversations it could start are much more of interest to me than ones centered around photographs of waterfalls.