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Hell's Traces : One Murder, Two Families, Thirty-Five Holocaust Memorials
by Victor Ripp


Overview -

"With this act of memory and imagination, Mr. Ripp transforms his cousin from a ghostly memory to a vivid presence whose loss he--and his readers--can more fully grasp." --Diane Cole, Wall Street Journal

In July 1942, the French police in Paris, acting for the German military government, arrested Victor Ripp's three-year-old cousin, Alexandre.  Read more...


 
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More About Hell's Traces by Victor Ripp
 
 
 
Overview

"With this act of memory and imagination, Mr. Ripp transforms his cousin from a ghostly memory to a vivid presence whose loss he--and his readers--can more fully grasp." --Diane Cole, Wall Street Journal

In July 1942, the French police in Paris, acting for the German military government, arrested Victor Ripp's three-year-old cousin, Alexandre. Two months later, the boy was killed in Auschwitz. In Hell's Traces, Ripp examines this act through the prism of family history. In addition to Alexandre, ten members of Ripp's family on his father's side died in the Holocaust. His mother's side of the family, numbering thirty people, was in Berlin when Hitler came to power. Without exception they escaped the Final Solution.

Hell's Traces tells the story of the two families' divergent paths. To spark the past to life, he embarks on a journey to visit Holocaust memorials throughout Europe. "Could a stone pillar or a bronze plaque or whatever else constitutes a memorial," he asks, "cause events that took place more than seven decades ago to appear vivid?"

A memorial in Warsaw that includes a boxcar like the ones that carried Jews to Auschwitz compels Ripp to contemplate the horror of Alexandre's transport to his death. One in Berlin that invokes the anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s allows him to better understand how his mother's family escaped the Nazis. In Paris he stumbles across a playground dedicated to the memory of the French children who were deported, Alexandre among them. Ultimately, Ripp sees thirty-five memorials in six countries. He encounters the artists who designed the memorials, historians who recall the events that are memorialized, and survivors with their own stories to tell.

Resolutely unsentimental, Hell's Traces is structured like a travelogue in which each destination enables a reckoning with the past.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780865478336
  • ISBN-10: 0865478333
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publish Date: March 2017
  • Page Count: 224
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Holocaust
Books > Travel > Essays & Travelogues
Books > Travel > Europe - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-12-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

Ripp (Moscow to Main Street) travels to 35 Holocaust memorials in seven countries in an effort to better understand the short life of his cousin Alexandre, while ruminating on the functions of memorials. Ripp never met his cousin, though the two were close in age; Alexandre was only three years old when he was taken to Auschwitz and killed, along with other 10 family members on the authors fathers side. The memorials themselves are given more attention than Ripps family history. Some of the monuments are well known, such as the main Holocaust Memorial in Berlin; others are considerably off the beaten path, such as the Grodno Ghetto memorial in Belarus and Jochen Gerzs disappearing memorial in Hamburg, which slowly sank underground and is invisible from street level. Ripp is an engaging and empathic writer who has found a unique, moving way to tell his extended familys story during the Holocaust and to memorably honor his martyred cousin. Agency: Melanie Jackson Agency. (Mar.)

 
BAM Customer Reviews