The book Return unwanted by the writer Charles Lewinsky is based on the life of the German Jewish actor and film director Kurt Gerron. Gerron is to set an ethical dilemma when he is commissioned to make a propaganda film about Theresienstadt. In Return unwanted Lewinsky makes the incomprehensible horrors of the Holocaust penetrating palpable.
Kurt Gerron was a German Jewish actor and film director. Gerron first studied medicine, but in 1920 he became an actor. With the rise of Nazism he neglected the opportunity to escape to Hollywood. From Westerbork he arrived in the camp Theresienstadt. There he is commissioned to make a film that shows how "good" life in Theresienstadt. After the movies were made, Gerron and his wife Olga were deported to Auschwitz and gassed immediately. Three days after the gas was finally discontinued. The film is probably never completely assembled; there are only fragments of known. Excerpts are available on the internet.
The book Return unwanted tells the story of Kurt Gerron, although much has been invented in this novel, as the author states in his afterword.
Immediately in the first chapter, the protagonist Gerron is the ethical dilemma placed in command of Obersturmführer Rahm to make a film about the human affairs of Therresienstadt. Gerron asks three day grace period. Actually, of course, he has no choice; refuse means death for him and his wife Olga. Gerron yields so under pressure from the Jewish Council of Elders. Cooperate in the making of the film may cause other Jews will not be deported to Auschwitz. After making the filming done that anyway.
Gerron while struggling with this terrible dilemma, he lets his life pass in review: relatively happy childhood, which ends abruptly at the outbreak of the First World War. He's only 17 if he is sent to the trenches. After an aborted medical studies, he is an actor and director. In a long monologue he reflects in particular back on the many moments of his career in the theater world.
Film and theater world of the twenties and thirties
Kurt Gerron this retrospective a means to escape the horrible reality in his mind. From the perspective of Lewinsky - which after all is itself dramaturge and director - an interesting matter. For the reader detailed snapshots of productions with many unknown quantities may be less interesting. Bertold Brecht and Marlene Dietrich are of course familiar names, but many other names will ring a bell to let the uninitiated. When Kurt Gerron effectively with the filming begins, the reader has some 200 pages in region of this otherwise fascinating book. Past and present, cynicism and intense feelings alternate in the monologue of Kurt Gerron.
And today is a pitiful present. In its review wrote the Basler Zeitung "Gerron's life monologue also leaves the reader a sense of vertigo behind, because he does not understand the incomprehensible, but only present".
With only the presence of this incomprehensible creates Lewinsky in this masterpiece as it were, an atmosphere of surreal horror that fills the reader with bewilderment. But it is the bare truth, which goes to the bone. "They have put down banks. We sit in long lines. Wait. The thousands who have been called to transport. And the reserve. Each with its transport number around his neck. There is little talk. There's nothing more to say. Those who would does whispers. As with a funeral service, as the front of the chest is in. In the theater, I found each finale too long. If you know how it turns out, should fall to the canvas. "
Return unwanted; Charles Lewinsky