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humanities 315 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 to question the partner assumption that the primary goal of that literature is to teach >lessons= and instil knowledge B an aim she implies is not inherent in comparable literature for adults. But don=t we all read to learn? Can=t some of those works read by children B Aranka Siegal=s memoirs, for example B be understood to be born of the need to express, to tell the story, rather than of the overt aim to educate? Thus, as it should, this study raises more questions. At the same time, it offers incisive, provoking analysis which, one hopes, will become familiar reading among teachers, librarians, and all adults who bring the literature of the Holocaust to children. (DEIRDRE BAKER) Hanna Spencer. Hanna=s Diary, 1938B1941: Czechoslovakia to Canada McGill-Queen=s University Press 2001. xviii, 190. $32.95 In 1938, Hanna Fischl, a young Jewish Czech woman, began a diary. Forced a few months later to leave her post as a schoolteacher at a German school in Olmütz, a small town on the border between the Czech- and Germanspeaking parts of Moravia, Fischl left Czechoslovakia for England in March 1939. A PhD in Germanic and Slavonic languages and literatures, she was allowed to work only >as a resident in service in a private household.= In June 1939, she reached Prescott, Ontario; here her permit allowed her to make gloves at the factory established by her uncle, Louis Fischl. The restrictions upon her terms of employment are only part of her story. Although other family members were also refugees employed at the factory and working at a nearby farm, Hanna Fischl soon became a much-talkedabout and sought-after oddity, the educated female refugee. After one local newspaper article featured her with the headline, >PhD Happy Making Gloves,= many others followed. These, in turn, led to speaking engagements in which Fischl, precisely because she did not fit Canadian expectations regarding the gender and class of refugees, was a great success. Her ability to speak about Europe in the terms demanded by her hosts ensured that they regarded her as a >First rate specimen=; they little suspected that in her diary Fischl was wittily deconstructing their own behaviour. Fischl stopped writing in December 1941; the last diary entry refers to the forthcoming visit of Elvins Spencer, the man she married six months later. The seven diary notebooks were deposited in a locked wooden box that she did not open for forty-five years. Continuing the diary made no sense, for she had begun it as a >one-sided dialogue= addressed to Hans Feiertag, her lover, confidant, and inspiration. Viewing the Christian Feiertag as an immensely talented composer and artist, whose budding career would be destroyed if anyone were to know of his relationship with xxxxxx 316 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 her, Fischl agreed to their separation. The diary became a substitute, a way of informing him of all of her thoughts and experiences during what they hoped would be a brief interruption to their relationship. The diary thus becomes a fascinating account of the intersection of war and gender, of how a woman gives up a relationship that for eight years has meant everything to her and attempts through writing to hold on to her sense of self. An intellectual who believes that she is capable of handling any pedagogical challenge, Fischl is horrified that at her first position in England she is unable to deal with her five-year-old charge. Not identifying herself as Jewish and reluctant to pursue Zionist possibilities, given that Feiertag is not Jewish, she recites Goethe as a reminder that the Germany that rejects her is not the German culture that she loves. In her introduction, Hanna Spencer, now professor emerita, University of Western Ontario, addresses not just Czech history but also the powerful hold Hans Feiertag exerted upon her. She analyses why she >never questioned or resented= the decision to take their relationship underground. There is only the briefest hint that perhaps this decision was not the right...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 315-316
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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