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April 07, 2009

Henryk Grynberg's _Drohobyz, Drohobyz, and Other Stories_


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Posted by lhobbs at April 7, 2009 11:47 PM

Readers' Comments:

Jamison Whitney
Dr. Hobbs
English 340
April 7, 2009
Response to Drohobycz… Drohobycz…

Grynberg presents a more stark view of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. His style of writing, with more subdued emotion and a focus on relating a story are more reminiscent of Borowski than any other author we’ve read. The lack of overt emotion from the author better informs the reader as to the view of the victims themselves; the hollowness through which they experienced all of these atrocities. He writes about religion, desperation and loss of figures that society needs like the writer Bruno Schulz. The frankness of the writing does not detract from the emotional impact of the stories but instead informs the reader that the narrators have injected little outside opinion into their tales and that all of the emotional aspects are derived directly from the events they describe. So the impact of these events are heightened for the reader more so than Holocaust stories which are written upon reflection and with larger philosophical themes in mind.

Posted by: Jamison Whitney at April 7, 2009 12:59 PM

Emily Belvo
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 340
April 7, 2009
Review on Henryk Grynberg’s “Drohobycz, Drohobycz”
In Henryk Grynberg’s book, “Drohobycz, Drohobycz”, Grynberg describes his experiences through not only the hard times of the Holocaust, but of his life after this traumatic event. In the books we have read for this class, the audience has either witnessed these authors’ in the midst of the death or labor camps of the Holocaust or their hard times in the Ghettos they were placed in. In Grynberg’s book of reflections, the non-chronological order of Grynberg’s life in Poland and in America is witnessed. It is interesting to note just how specific these stories such as remembering the vast amount of people he had been in contact with, whether helping him for his benefit in these hard times or ratting him out to be murdered. The closeness he has with his family is very important and is almost heartbreaking and most did not survive. In his stories he exemplifies his courage and near death experiences. He shows his audience his fight for survival in dealing with the loss of his home, moving into the Ghetto, and hiding out in the forests. Continuously, Grynberg shows the hard times he had being rejected in one area, and then coveted in another. With the story continuously going back and forth in flashbacks with no chronological order to them confused me often, and the continuous characters that came in had me confused for a while. However, I do believe Grynberg’s story is very important, as it gives the aspect of him being a kid in such troubled times to when he becomes an adult and the knowledge he lets off to his children. In the very last paragraph of the book, Grynberg states, “Our son, Alyosha, asked when it’ll be his turn to tell a story. I told him, ‘Your life will be so undramatic that no one will be interested.’ That’s why we left,” (Grynberg 275). In this statement, it personifies Grynberg’s stories, showing his children and the world that they are fortunate to not to have the stories he has to tell for the world to see how horrible his circumstances were. He has the ability to shelter his children from those experiences, however make them known to show where they have come from and how hard times may be. Grynberg’s book, although confusing in some aspects, shows once again the trials and tribulations that a Jewish child and adult had and still has to face by being a part of the Holocaust.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at April 7, 2009 02:03 PM

Response to True Tales from the Holocaust and Life After
This book was interesting because he not only told what happened to his family but he also told of what happened to the other that lived in his community. I like how he wrote in depth about the people who were in his family experiences. He spoke about the way that they were treated, just like all the other authors we read did. He was different because he was able to talk about life after the Holocaust and how he adjusted to it.

Posted by: monefa furlongue at April 7, 2009 03:28 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
4/6/09

Reflection Paper on Drohobycz, Drohobycz and Other Stories

Often when discussing the Holocaust, people read accounts and learn from those who survived the concentration camps. However, there were Jews who looked Aryan with blonde hair and blue eyes that were not caught. Some of these people’s stories are recounted in Drohobycz, Drohobycz and other stories. It is interesting to gain insight of the events of WWII from yet another experience.

Blue-Eyed Maria was a story about the life of a girl called Lodka Grosman who grew up in Warsaw. It begins with telling readers that as a child of 11, she was picked for a ballet school because she had blonde hair and blue eyes. Growing up, she was a young innocent child who believed that all people were Jewish as her life revolved around Jewish community she lived in. When War II started, her home became part of the Warsaw Ghetto. At first when the Ghetto was not tightly closed she was able to go over to the other side and buy groceries from German stores because of her Aryan looks. However as the situation in the Ghetto became increasingly worse, Lodka survived the war living outside of the Ghetto with a forged birth certificate, working at various jobs.

Interestingly, Lodka commented that with her false identity she was more afraid of the Poles than the Germans. Although she looked Aryan, she claimed that the Poles had a sixth sense when determining whether one was a Jew or not. When she lived in Malkinia or Praga, she never told anyone that she was a Jew as Lodka claimed one just did not speak about it. Whether it was known or suspected, no one mentioned the subject. However, during the war, Lodka had to change jobs and receive different birth certificate because somehow her Jewish identity was revealed to the Gestapo.

Although Lodka lived a relatively physically comfortable life compared to those who stayed in the Ghetto or were transported to the concentration camps, she still experienced devastating effects from it. She silently had to suffer the loss of her family and people alone while living a normal life. The emotional trauma she experienced had just as big of impact as the physical trauma her family and friends experienced. In fact, at the end of her story she claimed she lost her soul in Warsaw. The War captured herself and left her empty.

And if you are ever in Treblinka, please say a short prayer for me in front of the big stone to the Warsaw Ghetto. I didn’t just lose my nearest there, but my whole world. Including Lodka Grosman (p 192).

This story from Drohobycz, Drohobycz and other stories particularly captured my attention as it was about a girl who survived it incognito. The fear she felt everyday not knowing whether her Jewish identity would be revealed killed her. The events of the War II did not leave anyone whole. Its horrible events even affected those who were not physically traumatized. As Lodka stated, she lost herself there. Her life, family, soul was torn apart by hatred and is left dead and buried.

Works Cited
Grynberg, Henryk. Drohobycz, Drohobycz and Other Stories. New York: Penguin Group, 2002.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at April 8, 2009 12:12 AM

I thought that this book brought the reader to grasp and understand the lives that everyone had gone through with being in the camps and after the camps. It followed the journey about Bruno Schulz. The details and the way that Henryk Grynberg writes about the trauma and all of the dramatic events that took place it is very intense and realistic. Then after talking about how everyone has to live with what happened. Living with the guilt and wondering why they survived and not the others. The constant questioning and dealing with everything they had to deal with. Another thing that is interesting if following how the survivors lived and what they did after this horrible tragedy. Even though this a fictional story it still has a lot of realism to it and understanding as well. I thought this book was very real and honest and I enjoyed the tales of what happened in the camps and following them out of the camps.

Posted by: Renee Forero at April 8, 2009 09:10 AM

Jennifer Merrigan
April 7, 2009
ENG 340
Grynberg Response


Drohobycz, Drohobycz is written by Henryk Grynberg, who has become one of the most highly regarded Polish writers. In this piece, he writes thirteen authentic tales of the Holocaust, including its main story, which reconstructs the assassination of writer and artist Bruno Schulz. In each of these stories, it is not only the devastation of the Holocaust that echoes so clearly, but also the suffering that endures among the victims and survivors of this tragedy. Grynberg also investigates the collective guilt and the impunity of the twentieth century's two most genocidal political systems, the Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union. And he explores these areas in a reflective exploration of heroism, immorality, and defenselessness. Although, this may have not been my favorite book we’ve read so far, it definitely increased my knowledge of this area more politically because Grynberg takes a look not only inside Nazi Germany, but the Soviet Union as well.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at April 9, 2009 03:15 PM

Jamison:

I really like how Jamison talked about the non-emotion that is being received from the reader. Another good point that was made was that the impact of the story is just talking about the events and not the actual writer response and reflection. Most of the stories that we have read are about the survivors talking about their experiences and how it affected them. This book takes a different turn on it and just goes surface and no deeper.

Jennifer:

I have to agree with her, that although there is not really that much emotional content of the story it still talks about the historical content of the events that took place and that happened. It goes more into the events and the politics than any other book that we have read.

Jessica:

While talking about the different lifestyles that happened in the ghetto's and the different angles that was taken from the story. I think that it was an interesting take on talking about the different people who lived there and how they all were different people and had different ways of life but where all treated the same once they were placed in the ghetto.

Posted by: Renee Forero at April 12, 2009 10:29 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-340
14 April 2009
Drohobycz, Drohobycz Peer Responses
Jamison:
I like how Jamison takes a different approach towards the lack of emotion. While it helped him get a closer look at the victims experience because of the hollowness I felt more detached. I think this is an interesting point of view. I also like how he mentions this book has more of an impact because it does not focus on the philosophical like the others we have read; although, ironically, Frankl’s was my favorite that we have read.
Monefa:
Monefa made a good point about the author’s ability to talk about adjusting to life after the Holocaust. Most of what we have read is about experiences during the Holocaust but I would imagine life after would have to be just as challenging. Just look at Borowski, he was not able to handle it.
Jennifer:
I like how Jennifer focuses on the political side of the book because, like she mentioned, this is something the other books have not shed a lot of light on. I also like the exploration of the guilt experienced due to the “genocidal political systems”.

Posted by: Sarah T. at April 13, 2009 08:31 PM

Jessica P.

I really like how you mention that Lodka commented with her false identity that she was more afraid of the Poles than the Germans. I still don’t think I really understand that. I suppose Lodka left a very big impression on you, which is very understandable. Even the I feel that this book didn’t give us the emotional grasp that the other works did, Lodka did have the most affect on me, especially when she recollects on what the concentration camp did to her.

Jamison

I agree with you saying that his writing style is more like Borowski. Grynberg made me think of him a lot, and he was the first author I really compared him to. I do disagree with you saying that it doesn’t detract from the emotional impact that it has. Like Borowski, more or less I feel like the entire piece is more informative than anything. Comparing to Frankl, who did have philosophical themes in his work, he had a much larger impact on me because he was trying to rationalize the hardships his peers and him had to endure. I suppose it doesn’t seem all fluffy when I write it that way, but the fact that somebody has to try and rationalize why somebody could possibly endure something like that, and has to constantly remind themselves that every body and everything has a purpose is much more powerful to me.

Emily

“I told him, ‘Your life will be so undramatic that no one will be interested.’ That’s why we left,” (Grynberg 275). That quote that you put in there was very interesting, I’m glad you mentioned it. It really is one of the more memorable recollections he has. It shows that the many people who have made these memoirs are not “happy” to have made them, but it is a necessity for it to happen. Grynberg would never wish this to happen to anybody, and is glad that his kids can have a normal and “boring” life.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at April 14, 2009 02:03 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
4/14/09

Reflections on Drohobycz, Drohobycz and Other Stories

Jamison Whitney

Jamison had some interesting feedback as he focused more on the style of Gyrnberg’s writing. Commenting on how it was a more objective novel, the frankness of Gyrnberg’s style did not detract from the actual events themselves. In fact, readers were left to decide themselves their own emotions concerning the events instead of outside opinions. Further, I agree with Jamison and experienced the almost harsh nature of the novel, and was once again presented with a different view of this horrific historical event.

Emily Belvo

Emily begins with describing the structure of the story. Stating that the Gyrnberg’s novel shows his courage and near death experiences, the book portrays the struggle that the characters in the novel experience. I agree with Emily, that the chronological order of his story confused me. In conclusion, Emily states that overall the novel effectively shows the trials and tribulations that a Jewish child and adult faced. It is again sad to reflect that everyone was included in this atrocity—man, child, woman, elderly, sick, healthy…no one was safe.

Monefa Furlongue

Monefa gave some specific feedback. Like others, she commented on how this book was interesting because it not only recounted his family’s experiences but that of those in his community as well. She also stated how this book was different as he was able to talk about his life after the Holocaust and how he adjusted to it. This part of the book was different, as readjusting to civilian life was a component that many of the other books we had did not contain.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at April 14, 2009 02:54 PM

Jamison:
I like Jamison’s response, he brought up a good point about how the reader of the book can really feel the hollowness of what the author is going through since he does not write with much a emotion. That is a good aspect of the book to point out because not many people would pin point that. He also pointed out that Grynberg makes each narrator of the different stories add extra opinions to heighten the readers thought about the stories. This is another good point, because Grynberg really wants his point to get across.

Renee:
Renee brought a good notion that Grynberg wrote about all the different points of view and experiences during the Holocaust. She also mentioned how the book is fictional but he wrote with realism which is true. He made the story seem as though it was factual. I too like Renee did enjoy reading this book.

Jennifer:
I like how Jennifer mentions how Grynberg mentioned the two most genocidal political systems. She also points out how he writes about different points a view of the narrators. I like that she was honest and said that this was not one of her favorite books that we have read so far.

Posted by: monefa furlongue at April 14, 2009 03:12 PM

Response to Monefa:
In your response, you mentioned that Grynberg's stories are not only about himself. He made an effort to show his audience the people surrounding around him and how they were affected by such a horrific event. This is important to show that he was not the only one that was affected by this tragic event and also make the audience familiar with what surrounded him. Another strong position Grynberg took as an author was that he viewed not only the past, but the present and how he coped with being a survivor of the holocaust after his freedom. This showed how not only himself, but how his family had to cope with such things and what they need to do to prevent such a horrific event to happen again.

Response to Jamison:
Your response views over the emotional or lack there of emotion in Grynberg's book. I would agree that Grynberg's views were "overt" and that his emotions were "subdued" to make the point and view of a survivor in the holocaust. As you stated, it viewed over a better explaination for the readers of the victims point of views. The engrossed knowledge of religion, desperation and loss of patriotic leaders was important as many of the authors we have read before touch little or don't touch these subjects at all. His writing views more of a perspective in the situation rather than outside, which helps more for the audience to understand the unbearable cicumstances of this time period.

Response to Renee:
As most people wrote on their comments, you mentioned the aspect of Grynberg's writing as not only about his experiences and his turmoils during the Holocaust, but of his entire family and friends or people that surrounded him and what they experienced. You mention that his writing is not only of an outside perspective, but of an insider viewing the troubles in the ghetto that he lived in. His writing is realistic and intense, not only giving an empathetic view, but of the cold hard facts he had to deal with everyday.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at April 14, 2009 03:44 PM

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*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. B. Lee Hobbs at April 30, 2009 08:47 PM

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