In May 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, finds himself among similarly displaced persons gathered in the Allied occupation zones of a defeated Germany. Possessing little besides a map, a few tins of food, and a talent for black-market trading, he must scrape together a new life in a chaotic community of refugees, civilians, and soldiers. With fellow refugees Fela, a young widow, and Chaim, a resourceful teenager with impressive smuggling skills, Pavel establishes a makeshift family, as together they face an uncertain future. Eventually the trio immigrates to the United States, where they grapple with past traumas that arise again in the everyday moments of lives no longer dominated by the need to endure, fight, hide, or escape.
Ghita Schwarz’s Displaced Persons is an astonishing novel of grief, anger, and survival that examines the landscape of liberation and reveals the interior despairs and joys of immigrants shaped by war and trauma.
Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz is a moving narrative of Jews displaced by the ravages of the Nazis and the decisions made by one family during the course of the decades following World War II. Schwarz brings her characters to readers with very real and flawed personalities and in such a way that it is as if readers know these characters. As we learn how Pavel, Fela, and Chaim all encountered their own individual struggles in the aftermath of the war where they were given the title “displaced person” or DP for short, Schwarz captures in vivid detail the life of these DPs in refugee camps where each had but a few possessions remaining after they lost almost everything to the Nazi occupations. Displaced Persons is about sorrow, perseverance, endurance, and rebirth, and readers will feel nothing less than inspiration after witnessing the overcoming of suppressing and adverse conditions experienced by Jews who survived the Nazi occupations and the Holocaust. This is not a simple or light read, but one that will give pause for reflection as readers are shown the dichotomy of emotions experienced, for example, where some were comforted by the liberation yet still had feelings of despair amidst the refugee camp conditions. Told in three parts with the first exploring the immediate aftermath of the war, and the other parts looking out to the decades that followed where many of the refugees eventually emigrated to the United States, the long-lasting effects of the traumatic experiences of these people become evident as the characters search for meaning and release from the memories that no one should have to retain. I strongly recommend Displaced Persons to readers looking for a deeper exploration of the long-term impacts of the Holocaust for this novel recognizes that the lasting injuries of survivors are not all physical.
To learn more about author Ghita Schwarz, please visit her website: www.ghitaschwarz.com
For more reviews of the book, please follow the TLC Book Tour.
I received a complimentary arc of Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.