It was a heavy trip, especially for a self-absorbed teenager (I probably went with muted tones for my outfits).
All I could think about was how badly I wished my grandparents were still alive, and all the things I would ask them.
The trip was sponsored by the local German government and included a large number of survivors of the camp and several of their families.
I remember meal after meal of smoked salmon at the hotel in Hanover, solemn performances by German orchestral groups of great importance, and wondering exactly what one wore to tour a former concentration camp.
The massive presence of death pushed his creative nerve: he made many drawings of limbs, faces and the eyes of the dying.
It was the war that turned his decision to be a painter into a real vocation.The Nazi, however, was drawn to heathenism, to a world without principles, law, restraint and any desire for justice.This preference being problematic, the Nazi blamed the Jew for his dilemma.A few months after returning from Germany I headed to college and discovered the study of religion, an academic discipline that allowed me to explore what it is that draws people to faith, how religion impacts our choices and decision-making, and why it is that some people, in spite of everything, still believe.After that, there was graduate school in religious studies, where I continued to try to answer those questions, and unending new ones., the collection of essays that Abel Herzberg (1893-1989) published in 1946 include some of the earliest and most impressive reflections on the Holocaust.Their analytical profundity and clarity of perception places them among the greatest works of Holocaust literature, on a par with those of Tadeusz Borowski, Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.Unlike them, Herzberg wrote within a year of his liberation from Bergen-Belsen, which lends his essays a unique combination of direct experience and raw anger on the one hand and, on the other, given what he had undergone, an almost superhuman rationality.The seven essays were originally written for the weekly , to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from German occupation.Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at [email protected] proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.