Would you kill to save your life

InterviewThe Bremen author David Safier on his novel "28 days long"

As of April 22, 2021.


In his novel "28 Days Long" David Safier describes the story of the girl Mira who joined the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943. The resistance withstood the National Socialists for exactly 28 days. "What kind of person do you want to be, how would you behave in such a situation? Would you kill, would you save lives, would you give your own life for others?" This is how David Safier describes the universal questions that he raises in it. Radio Bremen has now turned the novel into a radio play.

Bremen Zwei: Who is Mira?
David Safier: Mira is a fictional character. She is a 17 year old young woman who lives in the Warsaw Ghetto with her little sister and mother. The father has already died. I used researched material and put that into this figure to show what life was like in the Warsaw Ghetto - what it was like when people were deported and the resistance fighters fought against the Nazis.
How did Mira come about? Is it based on a real person?
Mira is inspired by many different people. The name comes from Mira Furcher, a resistance fighter. Much also comes from Vladka Meed, who existed in the ghetto and who actually experienced a lot of what Mira experienced in the novel.
How did the idea for your book come about?
In 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, I was asked to give a speech on it. I was a young journalist at the time, and for the first time I really dealt intensively with the Warsaw ghetto. Somehow that never let go of me.

I then tackled this novel many, many years later. We have done an enormous amount of research for this. First and foremost, I have read a great many biographies, but also a great many non-fiction books about them. The Warsaw ghetto is sensationally documented.

There is, for example, the Marigold Archive. Back then, because people knew they were going to die, they already had records buried in the ground for posterity. And that's how you know a lot of little things, for example how the black market prices were in the Warsaw ghetto. It took a long time to kneel in there. But it was also very exciting and intensive work.
Despite all the horrors in the ghetto, there are always brief moments of hope and happiness. Why was it important to you to portray that too?
In the Warsaw Ghetto you can experience the worst that people can do, but also the greatest. People have helped other people. People were there for one another, even in the greatest misery. It was important to me to work out this aspect as well, because that's actually what touched me the most. That there were great people who gave their lives for others. But they also just made soup for the hungry. For me that was really the most impressive thing about the whole story. It was very important to me that it appear in the novel.
Why is it important for you to talk about the ghetto?
I wrote this novel for people who don't normally read Holocaust novels. It was already my goal to reach younger people with it and bring this story closer to them.

The core question in the novel is: What kind of person do you want to be? People in the ghetto answered this question very differently. Some went into the resistance, others betrayed others in order to survive in the first place.

But this question is valid for everyone at all times, even in our everyday life: What kind of person do I actually want to be? Do I now want to be the one who might outsmart a work colleague just to have an advantage of my own? Or do I want to be someone who helps others? That is a general universal question. Completely detached from this historical material.

This topic in the program: Bremen Zwei, radio play, April 25, 2021, 6:05 p.m.