Monday, November 07, 2005

The Unpublished History - Part 1

This is the history of my novel A Half Life Of One from it's inception up to its publication on the web.

When I was a kid of about five or six back in the fifties I saw a piece of black and white newsreel footage which has haunted me all my life.

The grainy documentary revealed what the Allies found when they entered the Nazi concentration camps at the end of the war. I felt my insides turning to ice as I watched the footage of the bulldozers pushing the piles of bodies into great pits in the earth. I gazed on with horror as the tangled arms and legs waved in the air as they tumbled into darkness.

Almost as shocking was the ensuing footage of German citizens being forced to confront the horrors perpetrated in their name. The Allied soldiers looked on in contempt as they trooped around the perimeters of the pits, many of them holding handkerchiefs to their noses. Most of these citizens were well-dressed and respectable-looking. Many appeared appalled by the horrors they were witnessing, but even at that age I wondered if it was for the right reasons. From the looks on many of their faces it seemed that what they felt was indignation at the way the corpses offended their sensibilities.

As I've mentioned before in this blog I became obsessed with the thought of what I would have done if I had been an ordinary citizen at that time, in that place. Would I have had the courage to take a stand against those atrocities? Or would I have kept quiet for the sake of my family. Might I even have played an enthusiastic part in perpetrating the genocide as many hitherto ordinary Germans must have done.

Many years later I too would come under extreme pressure. Nothing to compare with what went on in those nightmare days of genocide, but bad enough to make me contemplate taking my own life as a solution to what seemed like the utterly insoluble problems that confronted me.

In the end, instead of taking my own life I wrote a book based on what I was going through. Writing that book kept me alive. It wasn't the first time that a book has saved my life.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:48 am

    This is genuinely interesting. Tell us more.