Sunday, November 06, 2005
This year a Malayali is being honoured by the prestigious FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR. It is my friend Mr. V C THOMAS who is Senior Manager with D C BOOKS, Kottayam. He is the only Indian literary agent to get the Frankfurt Bookfair Fellowship this year. Mr. Thomas, who is now in HAMBURG, takes us to the land of Hitler, present and past.
>>AT THE BEAUTIFUL CITY OF HAMBURG...
Here at the port city of Hamburg, one of richest and fast growing cities in Germany, we are having a pleasant autumn even at the beginning of November, which is quite unusual. "Hamburg-my birth place -is one of the most beautiful places in Germany", brags Ms. Ulrike Ostermeyer, Editorial Director Fiction at Ullstein Buch Verlage one of the noted book publishing houses in Berlin. She is interested in Basheer's works.
Ya Illahi !!!
I am staying at the heart of Hamburg at Halestrasse near Hansastrasse, underground station. It is one of the posh quarters of the city with elegant late 19th century buildings. Ms. Heppel, editor for popular fiction at Rowohlt Verlage the most renowned book publishing brands in Germany who drove me to her office the other day told me that the British army left the area undestroyed so that they could live in those houses after the world war II. On our way to Reinbeck a small town 30 km east of Hamburg where Rowohlt is situated , she showed me parts of the city which were thoroughly destructed by fire storms which killed more than eighty thousand people in 1943. "I am not saying that Germans don't deserve that. But the children who died... What they have done?", she asks.
I am on a fellowship at Germany and I am staying with Dr. Ludwig Moos, senior editor non fiction at Rowohlt. The house has published Imre Kertez and Elfride Jelinek. I am meeting people at various departments at the publishing house and attempts at learning things which may help me back at Kerala.
One day Dr. Moos showed me the little engraved copper squires which are laid in front of the apartments adjacent to sidewalk at Hansastrasse. Each squire stands for a particular flat in the facing apartment building and what is written is about the Jewish family who lived there till late or early forties before they were send to the concentration camps. He told me that this is part of a private initiative to document the massacre administered by the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler. The squire that denotes Dr. Moos' house reads as follows:
Mr. Moos, a widower in his late 50's is away on his holidays to the German -Polish boarder towns for a week. A much respected editor who works closely with luminaries like Stephen Hawking has given me his keys to his apartment which is spacious but spartan in design.
And I am wide awake at wee hours and attempts at figuring out how Max and his family spent forlorn hours anticipating the worst, in this very flat and in this very room over sixty years ago.
Posted by Tom Mangatt at 11:11 PM