We Are Here (Paperback)
Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
University of Nebraska Press, 9780803230125, 288pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
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Ellen Cassedy’s longing to recover the Yiddish she’d lost with her mother’s death eventually led her to Lithuania, once the “Jerusalem of the North.” As she prepared for her journey, her uncle, sixty years after he’d left Lithuania in a boxcar, made a shocking disclosure about his wartime experience, and an elderly man from her ancestral town made an unsettling request. Gradually, what had begun as a personal journey broadened into a larger exploration of how the people of this country, Jews and non-Jews alike, are confronting their past in order to move forward into the future. How does a nation—how do successor generations, moral beings—overcome a bloody past? How do we judge the bystanders, collaborators, perpetrators, rescuers, and ourselves? These are the questions Cassedy confronts in We Are Here, one woman’s exploration of Lithuania’s Jewish history combined with a personal exploration of her own family’s place in it.
Digging through archives with the help of a local whose motives are puzzling to her; interviewing natives, including an old man who wants to “speak to a Jew” before he dies; discovering the complications encountered by a country that endured both Nazi and Soviet occupation—Cassedy finds that it’s not just the facts of history that matter, but what we choose to do with them.
About the Author
Ellen Cassedy has explored the world of the Lithuanian Holocaust for ten years. Her translations and articles have appeared in Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Forward, and Hadassah.
Praise For We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust…
“Pioneering. . . . [We Are Here] will reach out to . . . all those who care about not replaying in this new century the disasters of the century that has just ended.”—Michael Steinlauf, author of Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust
— Michael Steinlauf
“This eloquent book can help us to reach out, open our hearts, and rediscover one another in a spirit of mutual understanding.”—Hon. Valdas Adamkus, former president of Lithuania
— Hon. Valdas Adamkus
“A most captivating read. Cassedy offers an extraordinary perspective, human and moving, to concerns that often are hidden by tired clichés, sentimentality, or anger. A rare document.”—Samuel Bak, survivor of the Vilna ghetto and author of Painted in Words
— Samuel Bak
"Uncovering this history with an intimate, personal and investigative approach, Cassedy explores how the people of this country, Jews and non-Jews, are confronting their marred past and moving onward."—Jerusalem Post
"All answers are tentative. All questions are crucial. Cassedy's quest is brilliantly balanced, totally engaging, and constantly penetrating."—Philip K. Jason, Jewish Book World
— Philip K. Jason
"Ellen Cassedy's We Are Here challenges us to think again about what it means to remember the Holocaust in the present. . . . The struggle Cassedy so eloquently engages in to resist the logic of competing memory may be only that much more urgent today than when she was there."—Laura Levitt, H Net
— Laura Levitt