Five years after her return home from Auschwitz, Piera Sonnino found the courage to tell the story of the extermination of her parents, three brothers, and two sisters by the Nazis. Discovered one year ago in Italy and never before published in English, this poignant and extraordinarily well-written account is strikingly accurate in bringing to life the methodical and relentless erosion of the freedoms and human dignity of the Italian Jews, from Mussolini's racial laws of 1938 to the institutionalized horror of Auschwitz. Through Sonnino's words, memory has the power to disarm these unspeakable evils
About The Author:
Piera Sonnino was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. She was later transferred to Bergen-Belsen and Braunschweig. The sole survivor of a family of eight, she returned to Italy in 1950. She died in 1999. Ann Goldstein is an editor at the New Yorker. She has translated works by Roberto Calasso, Alessandro Baricco, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Aldo Buzzi. The recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award, she is the editor of the forthcoming collected works of Primo Levi. She lives in New York.
Table Of Contents:
Foreword by David Denby
• Translator's Note by Ann Goldstein
• This Has Happened
• Epilogue by Giacomo Papi
• Afterword by Mary Doria Russell
• Further Reading
• Reading Group Guide for This Has Happened
Sonnino’s story of her Genoese Jewish family’s deportation to Auschwitz was published by her daughters in 2002, in response to an Italian weekly’s call for readers’ memories. Born in 1922, Sonnino describes the family’s slow decline from middle-class respectability to “dignified poverty” (a situation that the 1938 racial laws made irreparable) and the proud isolation that forged a tight family unit, thereby making individual escapes inconceivable. The uniquely devastating quality of this book comes from the Old World refinement embodied by Sonnino’s parents and the systematic degradations their children see them endure. Sonnino also displays a propensity to dwell on human kindness. Although her family is betrayed by a fellow-Italian, she takes care to mention all who offer assistance along the way, even the elderly German woman who gives hot tea to her fainting sister.
Published after Sonnino's death in 1999, this haunting memoir recounts the story of her Italian Jewish family, including her parents and five siblings, who perished in the Holocaust. In spare, beautifully translated language, Sonnino details her life in Genoa prior to 1938, when the racial laws went into effect. Within a lower-middle-class environment, her parents and siblings were "lambs, good people, ready to suffer many wrongs rather than be stained by a single one, eager to make as little noise as possible and occupy the least space possible on this earth." In 1943, when the Germans arrived in Italy, the Sonninos hid in mountain villages, but were betrayed, arrested and, in 1944, sent to Auschwitz. The author's account of the last night they spent together is eloquent. Her parents and two of her brothers were killed in the gas chambers. Sonnino watched her sister, Bice, succumb to dysentery at the Braunschweig concentration camp after the two were incarcerated at the Bergen-Belsen camp. After the war the author spent five years in rehabilitation centers and sanitariums and returned to Genoa in 1950. She married, raised two children and penned this searing testimony for her family in 1960. B&w photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A moving account of a family caught up in the Shoah. In 1960, Italian Holocaust survivor Sonnino wrote a spare account of her experiences during World War II. Intended for her children, the manuscript stayed in her possession in a red leather binder; only in 2002, three years after her death, did her daughters permit its publication in an Italian newspaper. The author was one of six children in a Jewish family living in Genoa when the Germans swept through Italy in 1943 and 1944. She tells of the Sonninos' attempt to hide and their eventual deportation to Auschwitz, where her parents and five siblings all died. The book's most chilling passage comes early on. German-Jewish refugees flooded into Genoa in 1934, causing considerable economic hardship for those, like the author's family, who tried to help them. No more came after 1935, and the Italians assumed that things in Germany had improved. "The death struggle of the German Jews had begun," Sonnino writes, "and we were unaware of it." Four illuminating essays bookend this slim memoir. David Denby acknowledges the "tinge of irritation and guilt" people often feel upon the publication of a Holocaust memoir, then brilliantly demonstrates why this one is necessary. He comments helpfully on Sonnino's prose, noting that her writing becomes more terse and urgent as her narrative marches toward the camps. His arresting foreword is followed by a helpful sketch of the historical background from New Yorker editor Goldstein, who also crafted this wonderful English translation. An epilogue by Italian journalist Giacomo Papi describes how the manuscript came to light, and novelist Maria Doria Russell's provocative afterword explains why Italian Jewsfared relatively better than their brethren in the rest of Europe. An important contribution to Holocaust literature.
|Book:||This Has Happened: An Italian Family In Auschwitz|
|Author:||Ann Goldstein(Translator) David Den(Foreword ) Mary Doria Russell(Afterword) Piera Sonnino|
|Number of Pages:||224|
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