I’d been wandering for the better part of two hours through the outskirts of Lviv, or Lvov, or Lemberg or Lwów—it was hard to know what to call this city, given how many countries and empires had conquered, reconquered, occupied, reoccupied, or otherwise staked claim to it—looking for a concentration camp called Janowska, where upwards of 200,000 Jews, including, possibly, my grandmother’s older brother, Pinchas, had been worked to death or shot, unless they’d somehow survived all that and been put on a train to Belzec where they were taken care of once and for all.
Clarie, first a word then a name, grounds this story and eventually breaks out from a war letter. To know a story, to discover its how and why, will mean recovering, digging back toward its beginning—and that means memory.
* nonfiction by Marcin Otto, from Stefanie Wortman’s essay in MQR 53:3 Summer 2014 * In early 1940, several months into the Nazi occupation, Elektoralna found itself in the middle of a huge quarter called the Warsaw Ghetto, surrounded by a tall wall. Eleonora was Jewish but apparently she abandoned the flat with her children and stayed outside of the Ghetto, concealing their Jewish identities. In practice, it was a question of whether you looked Semitic and had the papers in order.