The Polski Affair

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In two of the most powerful novels I’ve read in a while, Leon Gildin explores the emotional consequences of surviving the Holocaust through the story of Rosa Feurmann and her family. We witness how the decisions she made under coercion during her captivity kept her (and her beloved friend/husband Chaim) alive until they were able to live free – but also destroy her decades later. Gildin’s novels are a wonderful example of the adage “we are as sick as our secrets” – and no one is haunted more than Rosa.

The Polski Affair tells Rosa’s story of captivity in the Nazi ghetto, her fateful meeting with her now-husband, Chaim, and most importantly, her time as a personal (and sexual) servant to a Nazi Commander at the Hotel Polski. The orders she followed during her time at the Polski allowed her and Chaim to finally find freedom; but keep her in bondage of regret until she is given the chance to return to the scene of the crime and participate in the War Crimes Trial by testifying against the very man who kept her captive, but who then also freed her and her husband. It is there that she begins to pick up the pieces of her soul and come to a place of acceptance of the past. That is, until her own son’s research into the hotel threatens to break open that door to the past in The Family Affair. Through his research, he discovers that his mother has been hiding the fact that his father is actually the Nazi Commander. He flies to meet the commander (who has been convicted of war crimes), stumbles across a half brother whom everyone thought was dead, and returns to push all the secrets into the open. The consequences of this create an ending that is bittersweet, but excellently executed, by the author.

These are two must-reads for anyone interested in historical fiction. I enjoyed them wholeheartedly.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 194 pages
Publisher Diamond River Books
Publish Date 09-Jun-2009
ISBN 9780981137605 Buy this Book
Issue May 2012
Category Historical Fiction


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