Sunday, January 8, 2012

Marie Halun Bloch

I recently discovered the author Marie Halun Bloch. Several of her books focus on 20th century Ukrainian issues, which was what attracted me to her work. Bloch was born in Ukraine in 1910 - making her a bit older than my mom. She immigrated to the States in 1914 - so that would be before the Bolshevik Revolution. Very good timing on her parents' part. Bloch died in 1998.

I managed to track down two of her books for young people. The Two Worlds of Damyan (published by Atheneum in 1966) tells the story of a young student living in Kiev who uses the Dniepro River to practice swimming. In his dreams, he's swimming at the Olympics against the Americans. Considering this was written in '66 - this Soviet competition against the Americans would be strong.

The two worlds mentioned in the title are the Soviet world and the private family lives. In the Soviet world there is no religion and no Ukraine. In the private family world, they celebrate Christmas and also the dream of Ukrainian independence.

In Displaced Person (William Morrow, 1978) Bloch explores the confusion of a young boy - a Ukrainian refugee. He, along with the Ost workers - young people forced into labour by the Nazis - don't want to return to the Soviet homeland. The climax occurs when the Soviets and the Americans share and divide the many war refugees from eastern Europe. At one point, Bloch refers to the forced repatriation and massacre at Lienz, Austria in May of 1945.

It's an important book because it tells a true story about the casualties of war that has received little attention. Here's a quote:

"It would appear ever so neat and orderly - for only orderly wars are fought in history books - with dates fore and aft to box them nicely in. But everyone who had been there would know it all for a lie. Because the truth was anarchy and chaos, friends where enemies should be and enemies among one's own..." (page 103)

My only question is: why did it take me until 2012 to read these books? I hope they get reprinted, because interest in these issues is continuing to grow.


4 comments:

Jodi Carmichael said...

Gabe, I visited your Leinz link. How many other atrocities have been hidden that have yet to be uncovered.

Fascinating blog entry. I always feel smarter after I visit your site!

Jodi

Jodi Carmichael said...

Gabe, I visited your Leinz link. How many other atrocities have been hidden that have yet to be uncovered.

Fascinating blog entry. I always feel smarter after I visit your site!

Jodi

Jodi Carmichael said...

Gabe, I visited your Leinz link. How many other atrocities have been hidden that have yet to be uncovered.

Fascinating blog entry. I always feel smarter after I visit your site!

Jodi

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Thanks, Jodi, for checking out that link. I got to meet Anthony Schlega when he came to Canada. As you know, this stuff fascinates me, so I'm always happy to share!