The Woman from Hamburg

The Woman from Hamburg by Hanna Krall Read Free Book Online

Book: The Woman from Hamburg by Hanna Krall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hanna Krall
    Red Załman
    Black Załman
    Crazy Hańcia
    Chaim Nouveau Riche
    Red Motł
    Mechł Beanpole
    Jankł Kugel
    Nisł Medic
    Szołem God Forbid
    Motł Water Carrier
    Black Basia
    Teacher Aba
    Icełe Shotglass
    Wise Icek
    Ester Waitress
    Aszer Cymbal Player
    Chaja Fajnblit
    Ortmanowa, doctor
    Lejzer Wajzbaum
    Sykuler, owner of the house on the Ikwa
    Pinchas the
, cantor
    The woman in a white blouse
    The daughter of the woman in a white blouse
And do not remember me in that hour
When God delights you with a great gift …
But when my native Ikwa flows
Swollen with tears … for those who had
A heart and soul
So long as I have the right
To stand and sing over the graves
Stern, but without anger
    Juliusz Słowacki
, Beniowski,
Canto VIII (1841)
Dubno, Sefer zikaron
(Tel Aviv, 1966); Kraszewski, Józef Ignacy,
Hrabina Cosel
(Warsaw, 1975);
Encyclopedia Judaica
(Jerusalem, 1971);
Evreiskaia Entsiklopediia
(Petersburg, 1906–1914; translated into Polish by J. Pomianowska, Warsaw, 1990);
Akta Procesu Norymberskiego
, dokument 2992-PS; Finker, Kurt,
Stauffenberg i zamach na Hitlera
, translated into Polish by A. Kaska (Warsaw, 1979); Morawska, Anna,
Chrześcijanin w Trzeciej Rzeszy
(Warsaw, 1970);
Göttinger Universitäts-Zeitung
(Gottingen, 1947); von Weizsaecker, Richard,
Historia Niemiec toczy się dalej
, translated into Polish by Iwona Burszta-Kubiak (Warsaw, 1989); the author’s conversation with Richard von Weizsaecker May 15, 1991, in Bad Godesberg; letters of Anna Netyksza from Warsaw and Antonina Hribowska from Czechoslovakia.
    1 . Babel, Isaac.
1920 Diary
. Ed. Carol J. Avins. Trans. H.T. Willets. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, p. 33.
    2 . Ibid.

Portrait with a Bullet in the Jaw
    We set out early in the morning.
    We were driving east.
    Blatt had to be certain that he had returned to the scene of Marcin B.’s crime.
    A long time ago Marcin B. had ordered the murder of three people. One of them lies buried in Marcin B.’s barn. Another lies in Marcin B.’s woods. (The barn and the woods are in the village of Przylesie.) The third, who was supposed to die, is Blatt. The bullet intended for him has been lodged in his jaw for fifty years.
    Blatt travels here from California. He has returned to Poland over thirty times. Every time he came back, he drove east to the village of Przylesie. He would check to see if Marcin B. was there. Marcin B. never was there and so Blatt would return to California.
    He always had to drive those same fifty kilometers, so he would either borrow a car or buy a used one. Afterward, it might be stolen; sometimes he smashed it up, or else he left it as a gift. It was usually one of those tiny Fiats. Blatt didn’t like to call attention to himself.
    (“You can call me Tomek,” he said the first day. “Or Tojwełe, as I was called when I was a child. Or Thomas, as it says in my American passport.” I continued to think of him as Blatt, despite so many possibilities.)
    We were driving east.
    The sun was shining in through the windshield. In the brilliant light Blatt’s temples were completely gray, even though he had dark-red hair on his head. I asked him if he dyed his hair. He explained that it’s not a dye, but a special liquid. In the morning, while combing his hair, he pours a few drops on the comb.
    “American,” I guessed. He nodded; the latest invention.
    Blatt was not tall, but he was thickset and strong. It was easy to imagine him in front of a mirror: a short neck, broad torso, an undershirt and a bottle of the latest American anti-graying liquid. But this image should not evoke an ironic smile. Blatt’s strength today is the same as the strength that commanded him to survive. Blatt’s strength should be treated seriously. Just like his love affairs, all of them with blondes. His Jewish postwar love had to be a blonde. Only an Aryan woman with light

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