Love for We Won’t See Auschwitz

March 4th, 2014 § 0 comments


We Won't See Auschwitz

Jérémie Dres, a French comics creator of Jewish Polish descent, recently gave an event about his graphic novel We Won’t See Auschwitz, published last year by SelfMadeHero. Late Night Library features an interview with the creator (scroll down):


Stephanie Trott at Cleaver Magazine (where Brazos Price also reviewed Frederik Peeters’ Pachyderme from the same publisher) says:


The reader is dropped immediately into the action, rendezvousing with Dres in Warsaw’s historic Old Town as he searches for his grandmother’s original home on an unseasonably warm June afternoon. Together we search with him through the clouded eyes of the past for the buildings and neighborhoods his grandmother once recalled perfectly from memory, only to find that they either no longer exist or have been altered beyond recognition. Dres, eager to learn from those currently dwelling within the city walls, next meets two “young, Jewish, Polish, and hip” Varsovians who advise and answer his questions about the current sentiments of Poland toward Jews. He is amazed to find that there are still Jews in Poland, his own family having long since departed for France. Dres continues to meet both older and younger Polish residents, conducting a series of informational interviews and receiving in return detailed contemporary history lessons. The week becomes one where movement is somewhat determined by conversation, the destinations lingering on the horizon like doors begging to be opened. We tumble into this rabbit-hole expedition like Alice through the looking glass, as the present becomes a vehicle for gaining access to the past.



At Library Journal, Ingrid Bohnenkamp of Missouri’s Springfield-Greene County Library District says:


By not seeing Auschwitz, Dres discovers family secrets and an understanding of where he came from, but, more important, he discovers the vibrant Jewish identity that existed before and during the Nazi occupation and that continues in modern-day Poland.


Verdict: For readers who think a serious story can’t be told with pictures, Dres offers a wonderful introduction to the graphic novel. Recommended for graphic novels fans who want to read more nonfiction.


And finally Publishers Weekly weighs in:


The book, an English translation of Dres’s Italian graphic novel of the same name, details the author’s journey to Poland with his brother, Martin, to trace their Jewish roots after the death of their grandmother. Told in a clean journalistic style that prizes accuracy over adventure… The book gets off to a promising start, describing the humorous and touching relationship between Dres and his grandmother. It then delves meticulously into the brothers’ journey to Poland and the surprises they find there regarding their Jewish heritage. As the title suggests, the brothers choose not to visit Auschwitz and instead focus on the current state of Jews and Judaism in modern-day Poland. It’s a smart decision to avoid this already-well-trodden territory… Simple, pared-down b&w visuals are a good match for the subject matter, and the more active and emotionally resonant scenes, like the one describing the discovery of the grave sites of the brothers’ ancestors.

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