Monday, May 26, 2008

Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor

Originally published in 1938, Address Unknown is a short story or novella that is immediately engaging and eventually haunting. Told in a series of letters between two business associates who are really like brothers, it chronicles the rise of nationalism and Hitler in Germany in 1934. Martin Schulz moves his family back to Germany after having lived in San Francisco where he was co-owner of an art gallery with Max Eisenstein. The two carry on a correspondence with Eisenstein, a Jew, becoming very concerned over the policies of Germany and Hitler. Eventually, Martin requests that Max no longer write him since he is afraid of losing his position in German society and politics. The story climaxes when Max asks Martin to help track down Max's sister Griselle. Max's letters to Griselle have been returned address unknown after she openly proclaimed her self a Jewish actress. In a turn of events and twist in plot that is reminiscent of O'Henry, the book leaves the reader with shock and questions as to what is really morally right in that world and even today.

According to Charles Douglas Taylor, Kressman Taylor's son, in the forward to the book, Katherine wanted to write "about what the Nazis were doing and show the American public what happens to real, living people swept up in a warped ideology." It gives evidence that we as a people were aware of what was happening in Germany and how we chose to react or not react to the situation. A must read for any introduction to the study of the Holocaust.

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