You can definitely feel and read Koval’s career or literary background in this book. Her thirst for answers, searching in every nook and cranny, and not leaving any stone unturned. Even stones that have nothing to do with anything at all.
It isn’t just her quest to find out who her father is, it is also the search for answers in her parents, and would be parents past. Learning about their personal journeys before, during and after the Holocaust.
The way people, who have lived through the Holocaust, differentiate between Holocaust survivors and Holocaust refugees. Most importantly how each one of them has changed, due to the traumatic experiences in the time of mass extermination and expulsion of Jews and other persona non-grata before and during World War II.
The psychological trauma, post traumatic stress and emotional scars are there, but the layer of silence they have laid upon themselves, makes healing almost impossible. Then again can you ever forget, forgive or heal from the reality of the Holocaust?
Regardless of whether they have learnt to survive under the most dire and brutal of circumstances or survived outside of the concentration camps, their experiences have changed them forever. The chapters describing the need of survivors to talk after their release from the camps, and then the inability to do so, is just so poignant. Like open-mouthed screams of silence.
I can honestly say I have come away with a lot from this personal journey. Koval presents her personal experience with a strong mixture of historical fact, witness statements, court documents and autobiographical excerpts. I have made a list of books to read, mentioned and quoted from by Koval in Bloodhound.
Kudos to her for pointing the finger at Poland. For some reason their part in the atrocities, always seems to be downplayed, as just being the country where they built concentration camps. The fact that Poland helped the Nazi’s to kill almost all their Jewish population barring a few survivors, and then had the audacity to murder all but a few of the survivors returning from the camps. No, that doesn’t get a enough attention at all.
Although I completely understand her journey and her obsession, and yes I do believe it had become an obsession, I am not sure she completely understood the implications for herself and those around her. Changing the family dynamics by changing what was previously assumed to be the truth about her parentage, and that of her sister.
When she goes deeper into the origins of her DNA ancestry, it has a slight tinge of elitism, which to be fair she does acknowledge. Other than satisfying a base curiosity those results are merely a distraction in her actual pursuit of the truth.
In the end I wonder if the lack of result or confirmation of the truth, whatever that truth may be, is exactly what Koval wanted to achieve. Perhaps not knowing and dwelling on possible scenarios is better than having to accept a truth and reality she would rather not accept.
I received a copy of this book, courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.