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Prazan, Michaël

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Libération - France | 16/11/2006

Littells offers another perspective on the Holocaust

For the journalist Michael Prazan and the historian Adrien Minard, this work of fiction has the merit of "filling an empty space" in an historical sense. "If only for the description of the elimination of the Kiev Jews, of astounding realism, that has never before been rendered like this, neither by Hilberg, nor by Lanzmann, not even by Father Desbois (who has been searching mass graves deep in the Ukraine for so many years), if only for that bit, the book is on the verge of being a masterpiece. ... Littell delivers real insight into extermination that is not reduced to the elimination of a people in an abstract sense of the term. The massive massacres were applied to people of flesh and blood. And on the other hand, civil servants and the SS are not just the pawns of a bureaucracy, they are also executioners whose impulses play a role in the death-dealing operations. ... Only literary writing enables one to get so close to this anthropological dimension of the genocide."

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