Friday, May 20, 2016

Rita Gabis

Rita Gabis is the author of A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, A Search for the Truth.

From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet, and as you were working on it, how did you separate your roles as author and family member?

A: When I first found out my grandfather was a collaborator of some sort--I didn’t know the extent for some time--the first thought I had was to find out if he was complicit in the death of anyone, had he hurt anyone. I had no idea I was going to write a book about it.

Six months into the research, when I began finding a paper trail [on] his story as a collaborator, [I saw that] what occurred in the border region of Lithuania had a meaning beyond the family story…

I knew I was going to do original research, and my aim was to write a book that would be useful for someone outside the field, who wouldn’t normally be going to the archives…but would be interested in the topic.

Then, in terms of separating the writer and the family member, I spent five years going back and forth between Eastern Europe and Israel. I also spent time in Poland and Germany. I spent time interviewing people. When I was in the field, it was easy to put that [writer] hat on.

At each meeting with interviewees, I quickly identified myself as being the product of a blended family, and explained what initiated the project, and there was a moment when I held my breath and [expected the person] would ask me to leave, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue