God's Horse and The Atheists' School

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God's Horse (1996) and The Atheists' School (1999), Wilhelm Dichter's novelistic memoirs, are both striking for their spare, precise prose and for the fullness with which they inhabit the perspectives of, respectively, a young boy trying to survive the Holocaust in hiding and an adolescent in the turbulent world of post-war Poland. The books openly address a rarely documented phenomenon - a young Jewish boy who, having escaped death in Nazi-occupied Poland, ascends into the upper echelons of Polish society as a committed Communist. After the war, the narrator becomes the stepson of a rising star in the petroleum ministry. He tries to gain acceptance by becoming a propagandist, but he can't help wondering if those who constantly warn of a renewal of Jewish persecution may be right. It is a coming of age story with Poland's changing political and social climate as a backdrop.

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Northwestern University Press
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