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Seven Tales of Jewish Life Before, During, and After Nazi Occupation

Der Der Nister

Publication Year: 2013

The seven stories that compose Regrowth (Vidervuks) might shock readers familiar with accounts of the Holocaust marked by mournful and sentimental overtones. Although the outcome is often terrible, Der Nister’s characters refuse to accept the role of victim. Likewise, the monstrosity of the perpetrators is not at issue: the Nazis may be abominable, but they do not warrant attention for longer than a savage animal would. Der Nister is drawn to parties capable of moral decision—and their dilemmas often feature an opponent that is inside one’s own people, inside oneself. “Flora,” for example, follows a father and daughter through the Nazi invasion and later Soviet occupation of a Polish-Jewish city. 

Der Nister paints a sympathetic portrait of the father, a member of the Jewish Council, even though he collaborates with the Nazis in a misguided attempt to help his people. To repair the father’s mistake, his daughter joins the resistance, seduces a traitor, and delivers him to his death. Accounts are settled within the Jewish community. The Nazi enemy is largely passed over in the silence his infamy deserves. Der Nister’s characters are crafty, and they do not hesitate to use force when necessary. After the defeat of the Nazis and Soviet takeover, Der Nister suggests, the maneuvering will continue. The morally complex characters and richly layered stories of Regrowth ultimately reclaim a more nuanced view of crimes still not fully reckoned.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Northwestern World Classics


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments and a Note from the Translator

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pp. vii-viii


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Meylekh Magnus

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pp. 3-90

“What? When was that?!”
It was approximately the sixth or seventh year* when Meylekh Magnus (as people still called him then) became a regular at Feygele’s. Even though her cheeks had a sickly red to them (because her lungs weren’t right, she often joked), Feygele had many suitors, many followers, many admirers. . . . She...

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pp. 91-154

I take up my diary:
Day. . . . Month. . . . Year. . . .
Dear tate, soon it will be a year that you aren’t here anymore. You, my pride and my honor, joy of my heart, and the one who brought me up—under whose protective wing I was taken and grew, without a mother, whom I didn’t even know. You, the...

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pp. 155-180

We are talking, here, about two half families—a man without a wife, and a wife without a man*—who lived, with facing doors, on the same floor of a single building in a big Soviet city.
No further details about them or their activities are necessary. It is enough to say that one of them was Dr. Zemelman. He...

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Heshl Ansheles

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pp. 181-196

Heshl Ansheles was well known among the intelligentsia of the city—among journalists, writers, and the like. They would often come to ask his expert opinion about work they had finished, and, when they planned something requiring exact knowledge they lacked, they drew on him in advance—as from a reference book, an encyclopedia...

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Meyer Landshaft

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pp. 197-218

It was a few days after their arrival. . . . People were saying that the city commander had already informed representatives of the Jewish community that they had the responsibility to carry out commands and orders that would be issued specifically for the Jewish population...

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Rive Yosl Buntsies

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pp. 219-242

Even in a little, antiquated, piously preserved Jewish-Polish shtetl, she was a marvel—a kind of historical relic, to be displayed in a museum.
Rive Yosl Buntsies, who could be seen, winter and summer, in a long dress with unhemmed skirts and an old-fashioned...

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An Acquaintance of Mine

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pp. 243-274

I got to know him while still in my youth. He captivated me with his good-natured, almost-sweet smile—that of a clever person, someone who was an expert at everything. But beneath the smile, one sensed the bitterness of someone for whom things weren’t going well—who wasn’t meeting with success in some...

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Afterword: Der Nister and the Art of Concealment

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pp. 275-300

The Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 c.e. robbed the Jewish people of a state. The foundation of Israel in 1948, while providing a real homeland to millions and a nominal one to many more, has not resolved the pressures of living, in the biblical phrase, “scattered among...

E-ISBN-13: 9780810165274
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810127364

Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: New
Volume Title: 1
Series Title: Northwestern World Classics
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OCLC Number: 865548391
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Regrowth

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Subject Headings

  • Nister, 1884-1950.
  • Nister, 1884-1950 -- Translations into English.
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