Return to Erfurt
Story of a Shattered childhood: 1935-1945
translated by Allison M. Charette
with a preface by Serge Klarsfeld and an introduction by Susan Zuccotti
Centro Primo Levi Editions
Pub date: December 2014
A tour de force of a memoir, this is the story of Marianne Spier-Donati, a German-Jewish girl who survived World War II. The narrative opens in 1999 when she is is contemplating a return to her birthplace of Erfurt at the invitation of the city’s mayor. The past comes spiraling back to her as she makes her decision, and the reader follows her family’s flight from Germany to Brussels, through the grim French camps in Gurs and Saint–Cyprien, to the Cote D’Azur. After her parents are taken, Marianne and her brother are protected by the Italian banker and philanthropist Angelo Donati. When Nice becomes too dangerous in September 1943, Donati sends them into hiding in rural Italy until the end of the war.
A fresh perspective in Holocaust literature, Tarcali's telling of Marianne's story emphasizes the human goodness that still did exist during one of the most awful periods of human history. The conflicting emotions and clash between the ambiguities of the adult survivor and the unhealed pain of the child who has lost her beloved parents, are given a clear voice in this searing book.
"The power of this book derives from the immeasurable tragedy of the Shoah, viewed through the plight of the Spiers, a German Jewish family from Erfurt, Germany, flung into the heart of the violent anti-Semitic persecution." from Serge Klarsfeld's preface
"These stories must be told, loud and clear and over and over again, until such things, such atrocities, stop happening. So I will be a storyteller." from the translator