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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation, 1939-45

(Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by Peter Demetz

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   Prague had long been a cultural, multiethnic city at the heart of Central Europe. When the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, the city’s inhabitants were faced with the possibility of collaboration, passive or active resistance, imprisonment, death, escape or simply trying to carry on as best they could. Literary scholar Peter Demetz was a teenager when the Nazis arrived. He was also half Jewish. Prague inDanger is his fascinating and important account, weaving personal memoir with a larger history of the time and place. Demetz includes artists as well as politicians, discerning their various and possible motives and noting that cultural life from jazz through Wagner managed to flourish in the great city until the final months of war rendered normal life impossible.
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