CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 1999
I came to one conclusion and it unsettled me a little in my quest to be a scholar. I could see from my reading that German society was very developed intellectually. And yet, from what the children had told me, the intellectuals had by and large supported Hitler. So my conclusion was this - a person, the world, needed heart more than intellect. And I understood that my problems, my misery, stemmed from the same place - my intellect was big, but my heart was empty.During World War II, Germans arrive in the Polish city of Zloczow, pushing out the Russians that had occupied the city. Marisa, a 15-year-old Jewish girl, is herded into the ghetto with the rest of her family. Unlike the others in the family Marisa, who is a blue-eyed blonde, can pass for Polish. In order to survive the Nazi occupation, she is forced to flee into Germany in disguise, using the papers of a Polish girl. She is placed into the home of a high-ranking Nazi official who treats her with fairness and respect. Marisa must hide from the Nazis in plain sight, in the middle of enemy territory.
Marisa's story is an exciting and difficult journey. Her setting brings her into the daily lives of her enemies, some of whom she comes to care about. Her attendance at Nazi functions, such as meetings of the League of German Maidens, provides readers with insights into opposing points of view. In most holocaust stories, Germans are painted as a nation of monsters; however, in In My Enemy's House, Matas, instead, presents them as ordinary people living out their lives. The book paints Nazi philosophy, rather than individual Germans, as monstrous.
Betsy Fraser is a librarian with the Calgary Public Library.
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