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Сбогом, Шанхай
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ISBN
978-954-529-675-8
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Rating (5)
5 5
Format
Hardback
Size
13/20
Weight
430 gr.
Pages
360
Published
28 April 2009

Farewell, Shanghai

Moving effortlessly from Paris to Dresden to Shanghai, Wagenstein (Isaac's Torah) masterfully chronicles the lives of European émigrés and refugees in WWII Shanghai. The cast of this ensemble novel is large. Elisabeth and Theodore Weissberg, a German mezzo-soprano and her German-Jewish virtuoso violinist husband, flee Dresden to eke out an existence in Shanghai's burgeoning Jewish ghetto, which ends up 30,000 strong as the Shoah begins. Hilde Braun, a German-Jewish actress, is living illegally in Paris aided by a mysterious Slav named Vladek, until events force them, separately, to Shanghai. Istvan Keleti, a homosexual Hungarian musician and drug-user, and Gertrude von Dammbach, a former call-girl-turned-baroness, are also among the persecuted and displaced, some of whom work with the Resistance to undermine Hitler. Wagenstein is impressive in his ability to move from the small details of individual displaced lives to a larger panorama of international intrigue: there's a telling subplot about tensions between the Japanese, who occupy Shanghai, and the Germans, with whom they've formed an uneasy alliance; another revealing thread concerns the loyalties of Chinese Catholic nuns. Wagenstein brings to life a largely unknown chapter of Nazi persecution.

About the Author
Angel  Wagenstein

Angel Raymond Wagenstein (born October 17, 1922) is a Bulgarian film director and author. Wagenstein was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but spent his childhood in France where his Sephardic Jewish family emigrated for political reasons due to their leftist politics.

Angel Wagenstein returned to Bulgaria due to an amnesty, and as a student at a lyceum, where he joined an anti-fascist group. For his acts of sabotage, he was arrested and condemned to death in 1944, and it was the invasion of the Soviet Red Army that saved him from execution.

After completing a degree in 1950 in film screenwriting at the S. A. Gerasimov All-Union State Institute for Cinematography in Moscow, he worked as a screenplay writer for the Bulgarian Cinematography Center and for the DEFA Film Studio (the former East Germany Cinematography Center). He is an author of over fifty screenplays for films, documentaries and cartoons. He became famous with his movies about Bulgarian Communists, especially guerrillas.

His film Stars, shot in 1959 by the German director Konrad Wolf, was awarded the Special Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.

His fiction includes the triptych „Петокнижие Исааково” (Isaac's Torah), „Далеч от Толедо” (Far from Toledo) and „Сбогом, Шанхай” (Farewell, Shanghai), which have been published both separately and together not only in Bulgarian but also in French, German, Russian, English, Czech, Polish, Macedonian, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. Far from Toledo was awarded in 2002 the Alberto Benveniste annual prize of the Sorbonne, while his novel Farewell Shanghai received the Jean Monnet Prize of European literature in 2004. The French government awarded Angel Wagenstein the high distinction of Chevalier of the French Order of Merit, and later Chevalier of Arts and Literature. He is also the bearer of the highest Bulgarian distinction – the Stara Planina Order. In 2009 he was made honorary citizen of the city of Plovdiv.

Excerpt

“Farewell, Shanghai”, a novel by Angel Wagenstein

IT WAS EARLY IN the evening of November 10, 1938.
The concert in the great hall had begun. The mild light of the crystal chandeliers, dimmed as far as possible, only intensified the bright sparkling flames of the candles attached to the solid red mahogany music stands. Theodore Weissberg was in an immaculate tuxedo – in fact, as is correct at such concerts, all the other members of the Dresden Philharmonic were in tuxedos as well.
Dressed in formal evening clothes, the audience in both the orchestra seats and the boxes was holding its breath. This symphony No 45 in F sharp minor is rarely performed, and it had not been easy to get tickets.
On this particular evening, four SS officers had installed themselves in the center box, where long before the Weimar Republic, in the time of the iron chancellor, furst Otto von Schonhausen, a.k.a. Bismarck, the Hohenzollerns and their entourage used to sit. In the audience’s eyes, it was an important sign of the profound changes that had taken place in Germany. The highest-ranking among the officers was Hauptsturmfuhrer Lothar Hassler, a very handsome man, blond and blue-eyed, as if it he’d been cut out from one of the torn posters left over from the Berlin Olympics and still hanging on city walls of the all-conquering Aryan nation. Something about him recalled the masculine, Viking-warrior-type profiles of Leni Riefenstahl’s film characters.
The most junior officer, possibly an aide-de-camp or something of that kind, tilted toward Hassler, obligingly offering the open program.
‘Allegro assai. I think it means ‘rather jolly’.
‘Í hope so,’ Hassler murmured gloomily. ‘Tonight I hope it will be ‘rather jolly’.
He knew what he was talking about, the Hauptsturmfuhrer; he spoke little, but he always had the exact word for the exact thing.

While the Haydn symphony was pouring out its light and tender “farewell”, the last of the naive was also saying “farewell” to their comfortable illusions about good old Germany – this winter’s tale that, in just a few weeks or so, would kick out like dirty kittens the Nazi bums  who had just by chance grabbed hold of power.
For it was on exactly this night – the evening of November 10, 1938, Wednesday going on Thursday, that history would bestow the name Krystallnacht – “The Night of Broken Glass”, and this referred  not to the crystal chandeliers of the Dresden Konzerthaus, but to the crystal tinkling of broken Jewish shop windows.
Jolly fellows, bloated with beer, were smashing shop windows all over Germany and Austria, which, to the unparalleled enthusiasm of the local population, had recently been annexed. Broken glass windows, under stomping boots, clinked and crunched during this jolly crystal night.
Terrified old Jews hauled out of their beds, were being dragged down the streets with cardboard signs hung on their chests: JUDE.
Synagogues were burning – Fasanenstrasse and Oranienburgerstrasse in Berlin, above Schwedenplatz in Vienna, and in Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. All through that November night of elegant concerts burned another two hundred synagogues.
Allegro assai – rather jolly!

Lothar Hassler lifted the small opera glasses to his eyes. His gaze swept across the hushed audience and, coming to rest at the box just opposite, lingered on the face of a young woman with golden-copper hair softly illuminated by the barely flickering chandeliers. This was the mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Muller-Weissberg, famous not only in Germany but also on the stages of Carnegie Hall and wife of the violinist to whom in a moment the bright circles of the opera glasses now shifted.
They remained on him for a long time while the officer examined with curiosity this world-renowned celebrity, a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts while along the Hauptstrasse there flowed an improvised evening procession by torchlight. The crowd was singing merrily, and at the front, in time to the song, drums were booming:

Auf der Heide blut en Blu-melein
Ein! Zwei!
Und das heist E-e-rika….

Exactly there, at the corner, where you could find the famous bookstore Meersohn & Sons, some gay blade came up with the idea of making a bonfire out of the books. Marx, Heine, Freud, Feuchtwanger, Srefan Zweig, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Anna Seghers, Friedrich Wolf and Leonhard Frank, Baruch Spinoza and Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka and Henri Bergson, all made excellent kindling. Einstein with his quantum structure of radiation threw off a spray of sparks, flying afterward above the flames with his covers spread like wings.
Don’t think that these pork butchers and lumpen sots have any idea who you are, Albert. We know – we know very well. Maybe over there, where you managed to slip away just in the nick of time, you might feel sad about what’s happening in your former motherland, but we feel cheerful – after all, you yourself say that everything is relative. We’re working according to your Jewish formula, Alberto, sorry, but excuse us! Our Energy to smash your equals the Masses that support us, multiplied by the Speed of Light squared, with which we will conquer the world. This is the situation, dear Albert, so farewell! It’s time now to find out at last who are the real masters of Germany – the Jews or us!
E = mc2 fell right into the center of the galaxy of fire and shot out a myriad of mirthful sparks.

“Farewell, Shanghai”, a novel by Angel Wagenstein

IT WAS EARLY IN the evening of November 10, 1938.
The concert in the great hall had begun. The mild light of the crystal chandeliers, dimmed as far as possible, only intensified the bright sparkling flames of the candles attached to the solid red mahogany music stands. Theodore Weissberg was in an immaculate tuxedo – in fact, as is correct at such concerts, all the other members of the Dresden Philharmonic were in tuxedos as well.
Dressed in formal evening clothes, the audience in both the orchestra seats and the boxes was holding its breath. This symphony No 45 in F sharp minor is rarely performed, and it had not been easy to get tickets.
On this particular evening, four SS officers had installed themselves in the center box, where long before the Weimar Republic, in the time of the iron chancellor, furst Otto von Schonhausen, a.k.a. Bismarck, the Hohenzollerns and their entourage used to sit. In the audience’s eyes, it was an important sign of the profound changes that had taken place in Germany. The highest-ranking among the officers was Hauptsturmfuhrer Lothar Hassler, a very handsome man, blond and blue-eyed, as if it he’d been cut out from one of the torn posters left over from the Berlin Olympics and still hanging on city walls of the all-conquering Aryan nation. Something about him recalled the masculine, Viking-warrior-type profiles of Leni Riefenstahl’s film characters.
The most junior officer, possibly an aide-de-camp or something of that kind, tilted toward Hassler, obligingly offering the open program.
‘Allegro assai. I think it means ‘rather jolly’.
‘Í hope so,’ Hassler murmured gloomily. ‘Tonight I hope it will be ‘rather jolly’.
He knew what he was talking about, the Hauptsturmfuhrer; he spoke little, but he always had the exact word for the exact thing.

While the Haydn symphony was pouring out its light and tender “farewell”, the last of the naive was also saying “farewell” to their comfortable illusions about good old Germany – this winter’s tale that, in just a few weeks or so, would kick out like dirty kittens the Nazi bums  who had just by chance grabbed hold of power.
For it was on exactly this night – the evening of November 10, 1938, Wednesday going on Thursday, that history would bestow the name Krystallnacht – “The Night of Broken Glass”, and this referred  not to the crystal chandeliers of the Dresden Konzerthaus, but to the crystal tinkling of broken Jewish shop windows.
Jolly fellows, bloated with beer, were smashing shop windows all over Germany and Austria, which, to the unparalleled enthusiasm of the local population, had recently been annexed. Broken glass windows, under stomping boots, clinked and crunched during this jolly crystal night.
Terrified old Jews hauled out of their beds, were being dragged down the streets with cardboard signs hung on their chests: JUDE.
Synagogues were burning – Fasanenstrasse and Oranienburgerstrasse in Berlin, above Schwedenplatz in Vienna, and in Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. All through that November night of elegant concerts burned another two hundred synagogues.
Allegro assai – rather jolly!

Lothar Hassler lifted the small opera glasses to his eyes. His gaze swept across the hushed audience and, coming to rest at the box just opposite, lingered on the face of a young woman with golden-copper hair softly illuminated by the barely flickering chandeliers. This was the mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Muller-Weissberg, famous not only in Germany but also on the stages of Carnegie Hall and wife of the violinist to whom in a moment the bright circles of the opera glasses now shifted.
They remained on him for a long time while the officer examined with curiosity this world-renowned celebrity, a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts while along the Hauptstrasse there flowed an improvised evening procession by torchlight. The crowd was singing merrily, and at the front, in time to the song, drums were booming:

Auf der Heide blut en Blu-melein
Ein! Zwei!
Und das heist E-e-rika….

Exactly there, at the corner, where you could find the famous bookstore Meersohn & Sons, some gay blade came up with the idea of making a bonfire out of the books. Marx, Heine, Freud, Feuchtwanger, Srefan Zweig, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht and Anna Seghers, Friedrich Wolf and Leonhard Frank, Baruch Spinoza and Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka and Henri Bergson, all made excellent kindling. Einstein with his quantum structure of radiation threw off a spray of sparks, flying afterward above the flames with his covers spread like wings.
Don’t think that these pork butchers and lumpen sots have any idea who you are, Albert. We know – we know very well. Maybe over there, where you managed to slip away just in the nick of time, you might feel sad about what’s happening in your former motherland, but we feel cheerful – after all, you yourself say that everything is relative. We’re working according to your Jewish formula, Alberto, sorry, but excuse us! Our Energy to smash your equals the Masses that support us, multiplied by the Speed of Light squared, with which we will conquer the world. This is the situation, dear Albert, so farewell! It’s time now to find out at last who are the real masters of Germany – the Jews or us!
E = mc2 fell right into the center of the galaxy of fire and shot out a myriad of mirthful sparks.

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