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Come to This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends Hardcover – 26 May 2022
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'A tremendous feat of storytelling, propelled by numerous twists and revelations, yet anchored by a deep moral seriousness . . . Enthralling' Guardian
'Part detective story, part family history, part probing inquiry into how best to reckon with the horrors of a previous century, Come to This Court and Cry is bracingly original, beautifully written and haunting. An astonishing book' Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Empire of Pain
To probe the past is to submit the memory of one's ancestors to a certain kind of trial. In this case, the trial came to me.
A few years ago Linda Kinstler discovered that a man fifty years dead - a former Nazi who belonged to the same killing unit as her grandfather - was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Latvia. The proceedings threatened to pardon his crimes. They put on the line hard-won facts about the Holocaust at the precise moment that the last living survivors - the last legal witnesses - were dying.
Across the world, Second World War-era cases are winding their way through the courts. Survivors have been telling their stories for the better part of a century, and still judges ask for proof. Where do these stories end? What responsibilities attend their transmission, so many generations on? How many ghosts need to be put on trial for us to consider the crime scene of history closed?
In this major non-fiction debut, Linda Kinstler investigates both her family story and the archives of ten nations to examine what it takes to prove history in our uncertain century. Probing and profound, Come to this Court and Cry is about the nature of memory and justice when revisionism, ultra-nationalism and denialism make it feel like history is slipping out from under our feet. It asks how the stories we tell about ourselves, our families and our nations are passed down, how we alter them, and what they demand of us.
'Kinstler reminds us of the dangerous instability of truth and testimony, and the urgent need, in the twenty-first century, to keep telling the history of the twentieth' Anne Applebaum
'A masterpiece' Peter Pomerantsev
Combines meticulous historical research with philosophical inquiries into nationalism, holocaust denial, guilt and the burden of proof. This is an invaluable and highly readable account of not only one family's story, but also of a period on the cusp of passing from living memory ― New Internationalist
[A] remarkable new book . . . There is a complex and powerful family story here . . . Asks large questions about the capacity of historical and legal practice to encompass the moral horror of the Holocaust, and about what justice is, or has ever been, possible ― The Critic
Linda Kinstler has achieved something truly unusual: a book that captures the paradoxes and nuances of memory politics in contemporary Eastern Europe, while at the same time invoking the trauma that past tragedies leave on individuals and families. Using rigorous, evocative prose, she reminds us of the dangerous instability of truth and testimony, and the urgent need, in the 21st century, to keep telling the history of the 20th -- Anne Applebaum
Obviously a masterpiece. A book that makes the Holocaust fresh, slipping seamlessly between story, thinking, politics, poetry and the personal -- Peter Pomerantsev, author of THIS IS NOT PROPAGANDA
Before reading (devouring) Come to This Court and Cry, I wouldn't have thought a book like this was even possible. A moving family portrait on top of a sensational whodunit murder on top of a brilliant mediation on memory, the law, and identity? And yet here it is. Linda Kinstler has threaded the needle. This book is many things, and yet it fits together perfectly . . . It's a marvel-- Menachem Kaiser, author of PLUNDER
First I was moved, then I was gripped and now I am haunted by Linda Kinstler's astonishing new book -- Ben Judah, author of THIS IS LONDON
The atrocities of the twentieth century have still not passed, still less the effects of the period's most pernicious secrets. Now a new generation is reckoning with the crimes of the Holocaust and the dark shadows of the Cold War. In this brilliant and compelling book, Linda Kinstler takes us back to Latvia, to her family history, and to a question which - in our new age of fascist-tolerance - is more urgent still: what is justice? -- Lyndsey Stonebridge
Implicit in Kinstler's heart-breaking narrative is a key question. How, when the victims of these hideous crimes are all gone, can we uphold the truth and deny the deniers? -- Julia Boyd, author of TRAVELLERS IN THE THIRD REICH
In this searching and powerful book, Linda Kinstler sets out to solve the mystery of her grandfather's role in the genocide of Latvia's Jews during World War II. But the questions she ends up confronting - about national pride, the need for heroes and the elusiveness of the past - couldn't be more relevant in the 21st century. Come to the Court and Cry is an exemplary work of investigative journalism and historical research, showing why writers like Kinstler are needed now more than ever -- Adam Kirsch
In her completely absorbing and profound debut, Linda Kinstler sets out to solve a mystery - journeying from a murder scene in Uruguay to the former killing fields of Europe to unravel a family secret about her late grandfather - and in the process unearths vexing questions about the past and how we understand it. Part detective story, part family history, part probing inquiry into how best to reckon with the horrors of a previous century, Come To This Court and Cry is bracingly original, beautifully written, and haunting. An astonishing book-- Patrick Radden Keefe
A powerful and very moving account of the aftermath of the Holocaust in Latvia, & the value and meaning of different kinds of evidence, by [Linda Kinstler]. Highly recommended. -- Richard Ovenden
Come to This Court and Cry is a reminder that memory is fallible, that the desire for forgetting is strong and that, when it comes to a subject so bitterly contested for so long, truth is all the more unstable -- Caroline Moorehead ― Literary Review
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Circus (26 May 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1526612593
- ISBN-13 : 978-1526612595
- Dimensions : 24.2 x 3.4 x 16.3 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 122,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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As British,my country (apart from the Guernsey islands), was the only country in Europe not to be occupied by either the Germans or the Soviets; so I thought that I had a pretty good knowledge of the Holocaust and it’s actors in it. However, I find it interesting, that probably because of this, we probably spend too much time on one’s own country’s history, to the extent that we don’t know enough about others. For that reason, I had never heard of Cukus before reading this book and for that I’m sorry-because, this book chronicles right up until the present date of the 2020’s, and you could say that we have been paying so much attention to COVID, that we loose sights of stories like this. Stories that can bring us together in understanding, and in the sharing of European history, rather than trying to tear us apart.
The injustice of still having to fight for justice 70-80 year since the actual events is crushing. There are no word to describe the cruelty of the aftermath of the war. The inhumanity of war criminals living a cushy life when million of lives have been wasted. It is barbaric how victims have been ignored and their testimony rejected on the altar of law. Law is a sort of sham, isn't it?!
Coming from a East European country myself I have a bit of an understanding of the complex position many of the other countries in East Europe found themselves. Small countries, caught between two very powerful entities: Germany and Russia. How is one able to chose between 2 evils? Hard to say. Many atrocities have been committed and too many have been lefts unpunished. A very sad state of affairs that has inflicted too many wounds.
This is a story steeped in history and a personal memoir related to the history of the Holocaust in Latvia. The book is well written and researched but a little dry in places.
I would recommend this book to those interested in reading a slightly different slant on the despicable crimes performed by humans upon humans. As with all material related to the Holocaust, it's not for the faint-hearted.
Kinstler approaches this legacy through multiple directions: the personal in terms of coming to terms with her own family history. And the legal and political, thinking through why, for example, "survivors have been telling the story of the Holocaust for the better part of a century, and still the judges ask for proof.".
This isn't - and can't be - a neat book, and it's all the stronger for dealing with complexities and perplexities, as well as thinking about the moral implications of those big terms like 'justice', 'history', and 'memory'.