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Ariana Neumann: Literature crucial to fighting fascism resurgence in Europe

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Ariana Neumann, daughter of a Holocaust survivor whom she tells the story of in a memoir, believes that literature is “absolutely key” in the fight against fascism resurgence in Europe.

In “When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains,” Neumann unearths the secret past of her Czech-born father, Hans, using clues from an identity card that has his photo on it but a different name and a box full of wartime documents that he had left for her when he died in 2001.

Neumann, born and raised in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, tells the story of how her father fled Nazi-occupied Prague and spent years hiding in plain sight in the center of the capital of the Third Reich, Berlin, as well as the murdering of dozens of her family members in the Holocaust.

Question: Is Literature a powerful weapon to revive the memory and avoid repeating past mistakes?

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Answer: I think literature is absolutely key. I think what is happening in Europe with the resurgence of all these movements is terrifying and horrendous really.

But I think through literature we can connect to stories and we can humanize history. And we can find what it is that binds us to each other even when we seemingly seem different. And realize that after all, we’re all the same, we all want the same things, and what separates us is absolutely minute and what binds us is really much stronger.

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Through stories and literature, that is how we connect. You put names with stories and you put feelings in other people’s hearts so I think it is absolutely key to have that human connection because otherwise, people hear numbers, they hear 6 million, 11 million people killed by the Nazis and I think numbers don’t stay with us in the way that stories do.

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