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A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz (Ett kort uppehåll på vägen från Auschwitz / Krótki przystanek w drodze z Auschwitz)
Göran Rosenberg

translated from Swedish by Mariusz Kalinowski
published by Czarne, Wołowiec

On loneliness of the salvaged
Him and her – a couple of Polish Jews, saved miraculously from the Holocaust, trying to start their life anew in Sweden. They do not speak the language yet, but they name their son Göran – the ultimate Swedish name. Sixty years later, famous journalist Göran Rosenberg follows in his father's footsteps, from the ghetto in Łódź to Auschwitz and Swedish refugee camps, to the place where he was born. He seeks to comprehend the loneliness of the salvaged, in order to be able to forgive his father that he was not able to live longer than to his thirteenth birthday. Reportage on memories of a boy stigmatized by history, in a country that has turned its back on history.
Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

Göran Rosenberg

Was born in Sweden in 1948. He studied philosophy, mathematics, political science and journalism. He has worked for television, radio and newspapers, and was a correspondent in Washington in 1985-1989. Co-founder and long-standing editor-in-chief of "Moderna Tider" [Modern Times]. A political commentator for "Dagens Nyheter", he has his own current affairs programme on TV4 television as well as writing for "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", "Süddeutsche Zeitung", "Lettre International", "New Perspectives Quarterly" and "The New York Times". He has written many books, including "The Lost Land: A Personal History" that was published in Poland in 2011. Also the author of prize-winning documentaries: "Den svarta staden med det vita huset" [Black City with White House] and "Goethe och ghetto" [Goethe and Ghetto], and the recipient of several awards, including a Swedish Academy Award and the Swedish Grand Prize for Journalism. His "A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz" won the 2012 Augusta Award.

More on the Author.

Mariusz Kalinowski

(b. 1960) Is a Swedish Studies graduate and literary studies scholar, co-director and script writer of documentaries such as "Czas Komedy" [Komeda’s Time], "Był raz dobry świat" [There Once Was a Good World], "Tata Kazika" [Kazik’s Dad]. Recipient of Sweden’s Göran O. Eriksson Award for his translations of theatre plays. He has translated Swedenborg’s "Journal of Dreams" and Strindberg’s "Inferno" as well as Peter Fröberg Idling’s book "Pol Pot’s Smile" which was shortlisted in the second edition of the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for literary reportage.

Ill with Auschwitz

Göran Rosenberg's "A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz" translated into Polish by Mariusz Kalinowski is reviewed by juror Elżbieta Sawicka

The well-known Swedish journalist has written a very personal book about his parents, Polish Jews saved from the Holocaust. It's maintained in a style that might take Polish readers by surprise, accustomed as they are to restraint and maximum brevity when presenting these issues. It might even trigger impatience. "A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz" is an outflowing tale, in places tender and sentimental. It's intentionally literary, in the form of a letter to the writer's deceased father. But it is an extremely poignant story. A masterpiece. The Swedes honoured it with the prestigious August Prize 2012, and it's already been translated into ten languages.
We now have it in Polish in the excellent translation of Mariusz Kalinowski. The translator has found wonderful equivalents in Polish for the multiple languages featured in the book: the wide and melodious narrator's phrasing, newspaper language, letters written in Polish with Yiddish and Swedish additions, the official language of documents.
Through the Red Cross, Rosenberg's parents ended up in Sweden after the war. In Södertälje they had a home, jobs, and two children. After the horror of the Łódź ghetto, the camps and the death march, they intended to build a normal life in this Swedish paradise. They failed.
The father cannot recover from his death camp trauma. He suffers, he requires psychiatric treatment. The former prisoner's anger and bitterness are augmented by the fact that he unsuccessfully tries to get compensation from Germany for his time in the ghetto and working in the camps. Swedish doctors see no reason to issue a certificate of ill health: physically, he's perfectly fine. In 1960, in his 37th year, haunted by the time of the Holocaust, Dawid Rosenberg commits suicide. During a stay in a mental hospital, he drowns himself in a nearby lake. Göran Rosenberg is twelve at the time.
Over half a century will pass before he starts reconstructing his father's life and death, step by step. Bits of childhood memories are important, they add a warm glow to the story, but they are only a fragment of the mosaic. His mother's and sister's recollections and the stories of other survivors are important elements. Rosenberg the journalist does more than just listen. He travels to Łódź, to Auschwitz, to small German towns such as Wöbbelin, Watenstedt and Uchtspringe that were stages on the road "from Auschwitz to life".
In his book he includes excerpts from documents and recollections from the Łódź ghetto, he uses the family archive: letters in Polish exchanged by two young people in love, Dawid and Halina, his future parents. He himself read them many years later, translated into Swedish.
He browses old newspapers. From the few articles about the "Swedish camp archipelago" he learns how hard it was for the residents of this wealthy country unscarred by war to understand the survivors. They got regular meals but still picked potato peelings off the ground, every shrivelled pea, they picked dandelion shoots. "A mania for hoarding makes them keep putting stuff away for later, then it sits there and dries up or rots, and in the end is only good for pigs". They had panic attacks and bouts of hysteria, they started rows. Who in provincial Sweden could understand such people?
Göran Rosenberg tries to explain the fate of his father and others who were ill with Auschwitz. "Like Lot's wife, you may only continue to live as long as you don't look back; otherwise, like Lot's wife, you could turn into a pillar of salt". Or, in another option: end up at the bottom of a lake.

Elżbieta Sawicka


A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz (Ett kort uppehåll på vägen från Auschwitz / Krótki przystanek w drodze z Auschwitz)

translated from Swedish by Mariusz Kalinowski

published by Czarne