India Uncut

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A trace, a small scar

In a profile of Tom Stoppard, born as Tomas Straussler in Czechoslovakia in 1937, William Langley writes:
At 68, he is still discovering himself. When he was a boy, his mother drew a veil over the family's past. There had been a Jewish grandmother, she said, and this was why they had to leave Czechoslovakia. Only relatively recently did he learn the fully story.

His whole family was Jewish. Most of his relatives had been murdered in the death camps. His father, once the house doctor at the Bata shoe factory in Zlin, had been killed in a Japanese air raid. Some years ago, after a visit to Czechoslovakia, he wrote movingly of meeting an elderly woman, a former Bata employee, whose gashed hand had been stitched by Dr Straussler. "I touch it. In that moment, I am surprised by grief, a small catching up of all the grief I owe. I have nothing which came from my father, nothing he owned or touched, but here is his trace, a small scar."
(Link via Sonia.)
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