Friday, February 16, 2024

Q&A with Alfred J. Lakritz



Alfred J. Lakritz is the author of the new memoir Adieu: A Memoir of Holocaust Survival. A longtime attorney, he lives in Calabasas, California.


Q: Why did you decide to write Adieu, and how was the book’s title chosen?


A: I am a witness to the horrors committed against innocent Jewish people and others by Germany, in Germany, and in France during the years in advance of the Second World War, during the war, and in the aftermath of that time. 


It is an event that has to be taught, talked about, and read about so that it does not happen again to Jews and other groups in every category in other countries.


We wanted to make sure that readers could feel the horror of the Holocaust and the scope of the crimes committed against innocent people in Europe merely because of the accident of their birth. 


After much discussion and consideration of many other options for words or phrases that could sum up the subject of this book, it was decided to use this word in combination with the picture on the cover of the book. 


We thought this was a way to draw the reader in and perhaps make them wonder who I was saying Adieu to. Or who was saying Adieu to me? Or was one child saying Adieu to the other child from the cover photo? 


There were so many sad and tragic goodbyes during this war. And many of those goodbyes were in my own family story. 


Q: The translator Tina Kover said of the book, “Exquisitely written, in language sometimes chillingly direct, sometimes deeply poetic, Adieu could be the story of any immigrant family--except that, in a single, heartbreaking moment, their fate took a tragic turn.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: I very much appreciate the sensitivity, comprehension, and personal, intellectual, and emotional respect for the victims of the Holocaust, and my family in particular, that was apparent in the comments of Tina Kover. 


Q: How did you research the book, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?


A: I did a great deal of reading and research about the Holocaust in the years leading up to writing this memoir. I read much about the source of the Holocaust and why it became such an endorsement or flag. The Holocaust was caused not simply on a religious or antisemitic basis; it is far more than that. I was, in fact, not surprised to learn this; I was indeed shocked. 


The findings of my research on the rise of Nazism and why it spread and became accepted in Germany and then in other countries of Europe to varying degrees. But principally, it was the disease and the prejudice, the unlimited intent to eliminate anybody who had the unfortunate status to be classified as a vermin as the Jews and others were thought of.  


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?


A: The effect of writing the book satisfied my need to ensure that I personally did something to make sure the world knew that what happened during the Holocaust did indeed happen.


To be a voice and a witness to the horrors of an innocent people based solely upon the sole purpose of promoting and forcing Jews, that a group of people who had committed no crime or wrongdoing of any kind, were suddenly selected for extermination in an attempt to eliminate the Jewish religion. 


I had the privilege of surviving. I survived thanks to the bravery, kindness, and love of my parents, my brother, and everyone who risked their lives in Germany, Belgium, and particularly in France. This is an attempt to thank those people and those that died. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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