October 31, 2020

The Jewish doctor who wrote a novel in the Auschwitz camp | Culture

When Melcher de Wind was born, the manuscript was already there. Hidden with the naked eye on a shelf in the family dining room in Amsterdam. "It was always like having a piece of Auschwitz at home," he recalls. A handful of pages written in pencil, with a tiny, hurried letter, that told the story of Hans Van Dam, a young Jewish doctor who decides to volunteer to work in the Westerbork camp upon learning that his mother has been sent there and that ends later being transferred to Auschwitz with the nurse he fell in love with and he got to marry in the field itself. What is special about the history of Eddy de Wind It is not so much the portrait of the painful experience as the fact that he managed to write it, in a start of desperate rebellion, right there. “When the rumor that the Soviets were going to free the camp spread and began to evict him, my father decided to hide, and stay,” recalls his son. "He went up to the tower from which all Birkenau could be seen and, fearful that they would erase that forever, it was done with a notepad and a pencil and he began to write," says De Wind.

Eddy de Wind, died in 1987.

Eddy de Wind, died in 1987.

He stops to speak to contemplate what can be seen today from that same tower, the crossroads, the dusty platform on which hundreds of thousands of Jewish families said their last goodbye. They arrived loaded with suitcases in which they had written their name in case, they said, they were lost, and the most essential: some dishes, shoe polish, clothes, some doll for children. It was the time when the extermination had accelerated and, as the guide who accompanies De Wind recounts this October morning in which all kinds of various visitor groups coincide in the fields – from orthodox Jews to students of military academies and families with children – gas chambers operating at full capacity, killing more than a thousand people per day. "When they sent Friedel to Birkenau, my father feared the worst, as happens to Hans' character, but, fortunately, she also managed to survive," says the makeshift executor, who until it opened in Madrid last year, The exhibition Auschwitz. Not a long time ago. Not too farHe had not considered becoming one.

"It was from the exhibition that I realized the importance of my father's book and decided to try my luck," he says. He contacted a literary agent and told him his story. That the book had already been published twice but, with such bad fortune, that it had barely made itself known. The first edition dates from 1946, and the person in charge is a small Dutch communist publishing house that, recalls De Wind, broke shortly after. "By then, the books in the that the infamies of the camps were detailed were not welcome, because nobody wanted to hear about tragedies, he was trying to rebuild Europe, "he says. The second edition is from the eighties, but the same fate was running out. 5,000 copies of the first print run: "No one in the world learned that my father had written a book in Auschwitz," he deplores. Times have changed, so, once the story has been heard, the agent was quick to get down to the work and in a short time it closed an agreement with a Spanish publishing house, Espasa, and a Portuguese one. Then the rest came: another 20 countries.

Manuscript of the novel that Eddy de Wind wrote in the Auschwitz camp.

Manuscript of the novel that Eddy de Wind wrote in the Auschwitz camp.

Everyone, with the exception of Spain and Portugal, will publish the novel, entitled Auschwitz last stop, next year, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. In Spain, he arrives at bookstores next Tuesday. Wind can't believe it yet. Look in disbelief at block 10, in which the experiments with women took place. It was in him that Friedel lived, his father's wife, the very young nurse from whom he separated 12 years after his return home because, he says, “they found it unbearable to think about what they had lived, and it was the only thing in what they could think when they looked at each other, ”says the son, whose mother always lived in the shadow of that first and great damn love. Walk, De Wind, between the blocks of bricks reports 9 – in which his father lived – and 10, so close to block 11, the so-called block of death, that the cries of those who were allowed to die from should be heard. hunger and thirst in their cells. He walks and tries to fit the figure of his father, for him, born in 1961, an eminent psychoanalyst, in the horror of life in the countryside. "I came for the first time three days ago and I am still trying to assimilate it," he says. "Never again another Auschwitz, that was for my father the most important reason to continue living, and the meaning of his story," he adds

From 'They will not pass' to the Prostitution Museum

Laura Fernandez

The story, both of Eddy de Wind himself and his son Melcher, is full of curious facts. To begin with, the place where Eddy took refuge to write the novel was an abandoned house near the concentration camp and run by a Spaniard, who had named it, the house in question, Not pass, or, at least, that is the very young Eddy, who recounts it as it is in the novel. Then there is the fact that, in addition to as a doctor, in the field, he survived as a musician – he played the saxophone and the clarinet, and, in fact, left him with the clarinet in his hand -, and that, during the rest of his life outside – after his brief visit to the Red Army – will be devoted to psychoanalysis – specializing in traumas related to the holocaust – and sexology. His son Melcher inherited his interest in sex, but not in an analytical sense but rather related to the show, as he now runs the Red Light Secrets of Amsterdam, the Prostitution Museum of the city. What happened to Friedel? “He lived longer than my father, the last time I saw her, I still couldn't talk about anything other than the country,” Melcher recalls.

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