In the Neighborhood of Zero
A World War II Memoir
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Table of Contents
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In the wake of September 11, 2001, the George W. Bush administration, appealing to the deeply backgrounded American exceptionalist ethos, took advantage of the nationalist fervor precipitated by Al Qaeda’s attack on U.S. soil to launch its global “war on terror,” the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq in the name of (American) civilization. ...
1. Departure and Border Crossings: Newport, New Hampshire, to Cheltenham, England, Spring 1943–1944
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I am a Greek American, the second son of five children born to parents who, in an effort to escape the wretched poverty of the “Old World,” emigrated to the United States—first to Manchester, New Hampshire, the home of the Amosgeag Mills, the largest cotton factory in the world at that time ...
2. Captivity: Disintegration in the Ardennes Forest, December 10, 1944–c. January 4, 1945
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After a rough crossing of the English Channel, the 106th Division arrived at the battered seaport of Le Havre, a city that had been virtually leveled during the Normandy invasion, where a convoy of U.S. Army trucks, “The Red Ball Express,” was waiting to transport us to our destination. ...
3. Arbeitskommando: Rabenau–Dresden, c. January 5–February 12, 1945
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Our snail-paced journey through the center of Dresden brought us eventually to a nondescript suburb named Rabenau. I can’t remember where precisely this suburb was in relation to the fabulous old city through which we had passed, though I think it was at the northwestern edge of Dresden. ...
4. In the Neighborhood of Zero: Dresden, February 13–14, 1945
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On the night of February 13 and the morning of February 14, 1945, the Allied air command undertook an air raid of Dresden, Germany, that utterly destroyed a hitherto unscathed city and killed many thousands of civilians, a huge number of refugees from the Eastern front, and British, American, and Russian prisoners of war. ...
5. Interlude: Dresden, February 18–c. April 25, 1945
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On the morning after our third—or was it the fourth?—excursion into Dresden to search the ruins of the city for the dead, our guards informed us that our assignment had been terminated and that we were to take up our duties where we had left off. I was at first immensely relieved to hear this because the horrors I had experienced those few days exceeded my ability to assimilate them. ...
6. Persephone and the Beast: Brux, Czechoslovakia, c. April 26–May 1, 1945
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As in the case of the destruction of Dresden, I find it impossible to represent the experience I underwent in the closing days of the war and of my captivity in a way that would be adequate to its surreality. But for different reasons. Both experiences were unspeakable in their incommensurability with everything we had been given to understand as civilization. ...
7. Love in the Ruins: Brux, Czechoslovakia, May 2–13, 1945
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The events of my last few days in Brux were devoid of any logic and thus resist being reduced to a story. The city was now in an interregnum, between a world that had been utterly destroyed and one yet to be born. To me its name, Brux, for all practical purposes no longer referred to anything familiar. ...
8. Return: Camp Lucky Strike, Normandy, to Newport, New Hampshire, May 13–June 1, 1945
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The destination of the freight train that carried us out of the void of the Sudetenland, it turned out, was Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, a city about sixty or seventy kilometers south of Brux and west of Prague. It was, if I remember correctly, the official point south of Berlin at which the American army, reluctantly, halted its advance into the East in deference to the demands of the Soviet Union. ...
Coda: Main Street, Newport, New Hampshire, August 15, 1945
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I am on a two-week furlough in Newport, from Camp Oglethorpe in Georgia, where I had been in “rehabilitation” for two months, a process that consisted of eating bland food, occasionally exercising, and above all, drinking a lot of beer with a couple of former prisoners of war in the local, often unfriendly and dangerous, segregated bars. ...
Page Count: 218
Illustrations: 1 illustration
Publication Year: 2010