David Cesarani

Return to Bolechow

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

By

Harper Press 528pp £20 order from our bookshop

Daniel Mendelsohn’s award-winning book is a milestone in the transition from the memory to the history of Hitler’s genocide campaign against Europe’s Jews. Although it ostensibly records the fate of one family at the hands of the Germans and their collaborators, the substance concerns the efforts of a young American sixty years later, two generations and one continent away from the events in question, to reconstruct what happened. To this end Mendelsohn assiduously tracks down survivors and eyewitnesses all over the world and assembles an archive of documents and photographs. But his search for direct recollection of what happened to his relatives ultimately proves disappointing. The closer he gets, the more he senses that the truth will always elude him. However much he wants to repossess ‘the lost’ he realises that ‘they had been specific people with specific deaths, and those lives and deaths belonged to them, not me’. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He has 'raised his country’s international influence to unprecedented heights, while at the same time jailing hundr… ,
    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,