The current issue of the Century features a remembrance by my mother of my grandfather’s terrifying war experience and its unfolding consequences. Tomorrow the world marks the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, when the world-shaping trauma of the war halted in Europe. My grandfather’s story is only a tiny fragment of the war, his decades of agony only a ripple in its billowing aftershocks. But it is the kind of story that is easily lost as the war recedes from living memory.
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I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says, “What would Atticus do?”—a tribute to Atticus Finch, the saintly lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. Having finished watching (via Netflix) six seasons of the BBC TV series Foyle’s War, I’m ready to slap on a “What would Christopher Foyle do?” sticker.
There's a danger in making veterans into secular saints. The saints don’t need us to give their deaths meaning; they died fully rewarded.
A Swiss bureaucrat saved hundreds from the Nazis. Yet even when picking up a cross means picking up a rubber stamp, many desert and flee.
Sarah's Key is culled from a popular novel (by Tatiana de Rosnay) set during the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of France. The main character, an American magazine writer (Kristin Scott Thomas) living in Paris, discovers that her husband's family acquired their home after the Jews who once lived there were sent to an abandoned stadium, where they endured three hellish days before the Nazis transported them to the camps.