Live Reading with Alan Mandell, Dec. 10, 2017 5:30pm, Road Theatre Company: roadtheatre.org/
People have often asked me, “What is your favorite story.” It’s a complicated question. What does “favorite” mean? Do you mean the one I like the most? The one I think is the best written? The one people seem to like the most?
I don’t know. I am the old cliché. All my stories are my children. I don’t pick favorites.
But to keep from completely avoiding an answer, the story that changed me the most is “A Good Day at Auschwitz.”
We all know what the Holocaust was. At least we think we do from the grainy black and white photos and film recorded during World War Two. It is the truest horror story on the largest scale any of us have witnessed. The Holocaust is proof that mankind is not good by nature. It is proof that evil is real. It is proof that all of us are capable of terrible things – not necessarily in taking part in mass murder, but perhaps in aiding and abetting evil through our silence. After all one of our most lauded presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, did not allow a ship filled Jews escaping from Europe, to land in New York. He sent the more than 900 men, women, and children back to out to sea. The ship could only return to Europe where many perished. And F.D.R. was one of the good guys.
When I met Abe I was already in grief. I was mourning the passing of my mother. Abe was mourning the loss of his wife. I expected to hear a sad song. What I was unprepared for was Abe’s joy. His humor. There was always a joke. For anything. For a corned beef sandwich. A bottle of beer. For his car. For my unemployment. For his guards at Auschwitz.
“A Good Day at Auschwitz” took me completely by surprise. It did not become a retelling of the horrors of human evil. It became a love story. A story of wit. Survival. Joy. Hope for us all! It is the true story of the unimaginable resilience of the human spirit as exemplified by Abe. Abe has become my shining star that no matter how dark the night, we are protected by a light far more powerful than anything we imagined we possessed.