We Are Here

We Are Here

Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

Ellen Cassedy

288 pages
13 illustrations, 1 genealogy, 1 map, 1 chronology

Paperback

March 2012

978-0-8032-3012-5

$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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 StudiesForward, and Hadassah.

Praise

“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

“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

“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

"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

"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

Table of Contents

Preparations

Part 1. Mir zaynen do
Here, on This Spot
The Nazi Era
The Soviet Era
The Bystander

Part 2. Mes Dar Esame
Our Goal Is to Transform Ourselves
An Indelible Memory and an Unhealing Scar
Jewish Ways of Learning
Landsman
I Helped What I Can

Part 3. We Are All Here
From the Archives
At the Gate
Leaving the Jerusalem of the North
Voices of the Shavl Ghetto
The Bystander and the Jewish Policeman

Important Dates in Lithuanian History
Author's Note

Awards

2013 Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction 
2013 Prakhin International Literary Foundation Award
2013 Towson University Prize for Literature
2012 ForeWord Reviews Best Book of the Year Award, Silver Medal in History
2014 Best Book, Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies
William Saroyan International Prize for Literature, Shortlist

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