From Czernowitz to the German Order of Merit - A Memoir of Cultural History and Autobiography
Focusing on the everyday life in Czernowitz of the 1930s, this is an eye-witness account of the author’s childhood, teenage years and young adulthood. Bianca Rosenthal manages to capture decisive events of the 20th century in individual chapters, each covering one year along with vignettes of daily life. After an adventurous escape from the Russians, the author remains in defeated West Germany until 1951 when she came to the United States.
Czernowitz is a former Austrian city that became Romanian Cernauti, taken over by the Soviet Union as Tchernovtsy. It was reoccupied by Romanian and Nazi troops during the ensuing Holocaust and finally reoccupied by the Soviets to become Tchernivtsi in the Ukraine.
The story constitutes an analysis of reflective autobiographical discovery of the past within the construction of memory intensified by a return visit to Czernowitz-Tchernivtsi in 1990.
Read An Excerpt
June 27: In Czernowitz, there is still a different reality. Summer vacation ads
appeared. Do you want to vacation in the mountains? The summer season of the Vatra Dornei spas starts June 1 and will go to September 30. A stay at the Black Sea was another option. Seven wonderful days in Carmen Sylva at a hotel on the beach. Also a reminder on Saturday, June 29: all public offices will be closed
because of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a religious holiday.
But on June 28, 1940 everything changed.
This was the beginning of the gradual annihilation of the Jewish community of Czernowitz, the beginning of the end of a world you had known until then, as well as of the German language and culture in your region. You, Relly, were a little over ten years old. It was summer, and what everybody feared did happen . . . .
About the Author
With a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Bianca Rosenthal is Professor Emeritus of German and French Language and Literature at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. In addition to numerous articles in professional journals and presentations at national and international conferences, she is the author of two books: Die Idee des Absurden: Friedrich Nietzsche und Albert Camus, and Pathways to Paul Celan: A History of Critical Responses as a Chorus of Discordant Voices.