“The Holocaust began in the hearts of people. As soon as you go and say “that Jew” it has begun.” Page 385 This Is How It Begins. by Joan Dempsey
The picture which headlines this review is of a Roma Sinti girl at Auschwitz. Millions of Jewish people, Roma people and gay people were victims of the Holocaust.
It will never happen again. I’ve heard that line from many who have spoken on television documentaries or from people I know.
It must never happen again.
This Is How It Begins is a novel, a work of fiction but…it is set in our times, present day, with our plethora of social media, search engines, mobile phones. Everything just a fingertip touch away if we wish to find it.
Joan Dempsey takes us on a journey into the past and the present which starts to reflect the past.
Ludka Zeilonka born in Poland before World War II, lived through the horrific violence of that war. Now 85, married and living in America she is thrust back into the memories of Nazi occupation of her town and of the Jewish people who suffered alongside them.
Her grandson, Tommy is a teacher and secure with his life. Until, in schools across their state, teachers are fired for conduct unbecoming. Their crime? They are gay.
The masterminds behind these firings are a fundamentalist Christian group who believe their children are being persecuted for their Christian beliefs and subjected to teachings which go against that faith.
However, throw a stone in a pond and the murk will rise to the surface. There is far more going on behind the public statements and Ludka must face her past as this modern-day pogram threatens her family and her way of life.
Joan Dempsey writes with confidence and her characters stay with you long after you have put down the novel. It stirs your thoughts and makes you question what you know to be true, or is it? In short; this novel has its finger on the pulse of today and how hate crimes and violence against those who are painted as being different is not so different from how it might have been in Nazi Germany.
A wonderful novel, so well written with a voice that whispers before it roars its conclusion. I will remember this novel long after it takes pride of place in my bookcase.
It stirred so many emotions in me, so many. I cried, I became angry and fearful too. In my family, Irish and Roma, the past is a two-headed snake. I am married to my wonderful wife and we are in love with a beautiful future to look forward to. No one has the right to take that away from us.
“Let him without sin cast the first stone.”
The song accompanying this review is Djelem Dejelem – I’m Travelling