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Daddy's War

Greek American Stories

Irene Kacandes

Publication Year: 2009

When she was very young, Irene Kacandes knew things about her father that had no plot, no narrator, and no audience. To her childhood self these things resembled beings who resided with her family, like the ancestresses who’d thrown themselves off cliffs rather than be taken by the Turks, or the forefathers who’d fought the Trojans. For decades she thought of these cohabitants as Daddy’s War Experiences and tried to stay away from them. When tragedy touched the adult life she had constructed for herself, however, she realized she had to confront her family’s wartime past. 
 
Kacandes begins with what she did know: that her immigrant grandmother returned to Greece with four young children—and without her husband—only to get trapped there by the Nazi occupation. Though still a child himself, her father, John, helped feed his younger siblings by taking up any task possible, including smuggling arms to the Resistance. Kacandes painstakingly uncovers a complex truth her father chose not to tell, a truth inextricably entwined with the Holocaust, discovering, too, a common but little-told story about how the telling of such memories is negotiated between survivors and their children. Daddy’s War brings new understanding to how trauma, like the revenge of Greek gods, can visit each generation and offers a model for breaking the cycle.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Contents

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p. vii-vii

Illustrations

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pp. viii-ix

Abbreviations

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pp. x-xii

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1. Stalked by Daddy’s War: Earliest Memories and How I Came to Face Them

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pp. 1-53

When I was very young I knew things about my father that had no plot, no narrator, no audience. I don’t remember being told these things. They were just there, like unwelcome relatives installed for the long haul, sponging off my parents and preventing our family from living completely in the present. ...

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2. Recounting Daddy’s War: Family Stories

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pp. 54-177

In this section I have organized the stories I heard when I asked family members between 2004 and 2006 what they thought had happened to my father and his family during their stay in Greece from 1937 to 1945. In order to achieve the “scan” of family memory I explained at the conclusion of chapter 1, ...

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3. Analyzing Daddy’s War: Insights from Established Theories

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pp. 178-217

Once I had assembled the stories presented here in chapters 1 and 2, what did I make of them? To be sure, my first reactions were emotional. These anecdotes are poignant, sometimes heartbreaking, occasionally even tragic—and only very rarely funny. They recount hardship, determination, generosity, and courage, but also confusion, exploitation, meanness, and fear. ...

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4. Grappling with Daddy’s War: Speculations for Extending Theories

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pp. 218-261

I attempt here to make sense of the family stories gathered in the earlier sections of this book in a more speculative register. I will use Laub’s account of his witness’s testimony to the explosion of four crematoria chimneys in Auschwitz that was considered in chapter 3 as a roadmap for returning to my father’s story of arrest and deportation. ...

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5. Cowitnessing to Daddy’s War: An (Im)Possible Recital of What Might Have Happened

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pp. 262-335

Dear Dad, I write this to you aware of your failing memory. These last months sometimes you seem to register what I am telling you and many times you do not. Nonetheless, I feel the need to try to share certain things with you before you perhaps can follow even less of what I am telling you. I know you know that for a couple of years now I have been asking you, ...

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Epilogue: Surviving Daddy’s War

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pp. 336-348

Here I sit. It has been about three years from the moment I finally asked my siblings what they knew about our father’s war experiences and how they thought they had learned what they knew, until this moment: post-research, post-interviewing, and on the verge of finishing a final draft of this book. And I am different. I can chuckle at the memory of the self-righteous demand ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 349-352

There would have been no book without those members and friends of my family who agreed to share their memories with me, above all, those who survived the war and lived to tell about it. My profound gratitude to my father, John G. Kacandes, my mother, Lucie N. Kacandes, my aunt Pearl Veronis ...

Appendix A: A Note on Greek Names and Naming

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pp. 353-356

Appendix B: Family Trees

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pp. 357-358

Appendix C: Maps

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pp. 359-362

Appendix D: “Never Leave the United States”

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pp. 363-368

Appendix E: My Grandfather’s Wartime File on His Family

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pp. 369-376

Appendix F: Chronology

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pp. 377-388

Glossary

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pp. 389-390

Reference List

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pp. 391-396


E-ISBN-13: 9780803222991
E-ISBN-10: 0803222998

Illustrations: 51 b/w illus, 2 family trees, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2009