Monday, 6 October 2008

More banana box bargains

A strange case of synchronicity this last 3 days. Some would call it chance, others coincidence.
In Eisenstadt, formerly Kismarton (Hungarian), the Austrian provincial capital of Burgenland almost on the Hungarian border Poet-in-Residence bought a 1 euro banana box bargain book. It was a copy of Australian author Thomas Keneally's Now and in Time to Be, the story of the author's travels in Ireland.
Today in Vienna a couple more banana box books caught the bardic eye. The first, Trilby by George Du Maurier is the tale of Svengali, the second picked up because it was Schindler's Ark and bargain priced at 1 euro was also thrust into the plastic carrier bag.
On the tram on the way home Poet-in-Residence was surprised to discover that Thomas Keneally also wrote Schindler's Ark. Yes, it was synchronious, or coincidental, or simply by chance; whichever you like you may choose.
But what's significant here is the answer to the question - Why did it need an Australian writer to uncover and tell the world this story?
In Munich a 90 year-old ex-Nazi, a town mayor and public figure, has just now gone on trial for war crimes in Italy. Many Nazi criminals have been allowed to escape justice, in some cases with the assistance of the Vatican, and some have subsequently been lauded with honours, such as the infamous Doctor Heinrich Gross the child murderer here in Austria.
It seems that the European establishment still hasn't got the courage to look recent European history squarely in the eye. In the case of Schindler it required the combined efforts of Hollywood and Australia to do the job.

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