In May, 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, searches for surviving family in the Allied Zones of a crushed Germany. Alone, with no money and no prospects, he trades on the black market to survive. While searching for family members and waiting for a visa to America, he befriends a pair of refugees, Fela, and a teenaged boy named Chaim, and soon the trio form a makeshift family. For decades, these survivors have successfully compartmentalized the past. But when the Iron Curtain falls in the 1990s, Pavel, Felaa, and Chaim are reluctantly forced to confront the legacy of their experiences by a culture that has unexpectedly embraced their tragedy as a commodity in need of exploration and understanding. In Displaced Persons, Ghita Schwarz creates indelible portraits of immigrants shaped by their histories—ordinary men and women who lived through cataclysmic times—and uses them to illuminate changing cultural understandings of trauma and memory and its impact for us all.
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