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Friedman, G. (1988). Worlds Torn Asunder. Dov Beril Edelstein. Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken, 1985.. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(4):660-662.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(4):660-662

Worlds Torn Asunder. Dov Beril Edelstein. Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken, 1985.

Review by:
Gloria Friedman

Thirty years after being liberated from the concentration camp, Bergen-Belson, the author, a Hungarian Jew now living in the United States, looks back at the first 18 years of his life. His story, how he and his family were swept up by the Nazis' demonic tidal wave is unfortunately not unique, and his year as a slave laborer in Auschwitz has the horrifying similarity of all such accounts. However, his memoir adds a special dimension to the growing literature on the Holocaust because of the author's unwavering belief in his Orthodox Judaism. In fact, the memoir stands out as an excellent example of the power of a belief system to give “spiritual support and render life meaningful” (p. ix) in the face of inhuman conditions.

The first third of this slim, very well-written book is devoted to his childhood in a small town in Hungary. He came from an extremely poor family, often went hungry, but describes the Orthodox Jewish world with great love and reverence. His father was a Rabbi and his mother a devout believer. Following the custom of the time, he was sent away to Yeshiva at age 12 for a total immersion in Talmudic study. In 1944, when he was 17, he and his family were forced to move into the ghetto in Szatmár, Hungary, and shortly thereafter, all were deported to Auschwitz where his parents and younger brother were killed. Two older brothers survived the war.

What is particularly interesting in Edelstein's description of his childhood is his idealization of the life and place.

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