#3 / Editorial

K.’s third edition presents us with a chance for a respite from political reportage and historical chronicle, as we take a bracing detour into the world of literature. Fiction, in a more subtle manner, makes demands on the reader, as much as it documents and examines social questions. Fiction and poetry can penetrate to the truth of a situation, and sometimes the literary perspective has the greatest clarity of view. For Avrom Sutzkever, the great Yiddish poet and one of the Nuremberg Trials’ rare survivor-witnesses, the view is clearest in a liminal space, “the limit of the dream when a dream is possible, the limit of a nightmare when it occurs,” as scholar and French-language translator Rachel Ertel explains. Ertel, a friend of the late poet, a companion to him during his visits to Paris, illuminates the experiences that were most formative for him, such as when he asked himself in the Vilnius Ghetto in 1943 whether he was “the last poet of Europe.” In a later time, in a less dire hour, Nathalie Azoulai publishes in K. this week a searching short story on the weakening of Holocaust memory, tied to the inexorable passing of survivors and the loss of their living testimony. K. will regularly print original short stories and translations. But next week, for our fourth edition, we will return to the hurly-burly of politics and the clash over a contemporary definition of anti-Semitism. The resurgence of violent acts of anti-Semitism since the start of the twenty-first century has made such a definition a pressing task. Becoming more aware of this renaissance of Jew-hatred, long considered as a relic, international bodies (notably the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), sought to aid the fight against anti-Semitism in articulating a definition of anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, as we will see, the reality of a resurgence in anti-Semitism has been liable to produce a debate over how to define this phenomenon.

The moving figure of Avrom Sutzkever can be seen in the film which, in 1945, records his testimony at the Nuremberg trial. He was one of the few Jews who testified. At that time he was already a great Yiddish poet – who asked himself, in one of his verses from 1943: “Am I the last poet left singing in Europe?” Rachel Ertel profiles Sutzkever for K. against the background of his relationship to Europe >>>

“At the dawn of a new century or was it a millennium? — we don’t know, Kate Stevenson found a large metal box on a beach. Had she gone to explore the shores of the Baltic, the Caspian or the Adriatic? The story doesn’t say. She might have been just walking on a beach in Cornwall, a few miles from her home.” >>>

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.