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The Book of Lost Names


A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from ...
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Observing the officers in Drancy Eva wonders, "Could they all be that evil? Or had they discovered a switch within themselves that allowed them to turn off their civility?" What do you think?

Created: 05/21/21

Replies: 14

Posted May. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

Observing the officers in Drancy Eva wonders, "Could they all be that evil? Or had they discovered a switch within themselves that allowed them to turn off their civility?" What do you think?

On page 117, Eva watches officers walking around unbothered in Drancy and thinks to herself, "Could they all be that evil? Or had they discovered a switch within themselves that allowed them to turn off their civility? Did they go home to their wives at night and simply flip the switches back on, become human once more?" What do you think of her questions? In wartime, do you think those who don't fight for what is right are evil? Do you think they can become immune to atrocities?


Posted May. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 136

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

This is a question I’ve pondered - how could something like the Holocaust happen? I’ll never understand torturing an animal much less a human. Some things are so clearly right or wrong in my mind that I will never know how evil happens. Fighting for one’s country, defending your home, protecting your family might be able to be explained but atrocities cannot be defended.


Posted May. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Tired Bookreader

Join Date: 08/19/11

Posts: 172

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

Just as in any war, the participants must be able to proceed without thinking of the lives they are destroying or they would not last. Unfortunately, the love of country (leader) has cost many young men and women their lives...and for what??


Posted May. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TerryPark

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 29

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

It seems that being caught up in a group, where a behavior is encouraged and often rewarded, does allow participants to lose civility. I didn't learn about these times in my history classes in high school. I read about them mostly in historical fiction. I often look up the history behind the fiction and am disappointed to find that the actions of one group of people against another has been as portrayed in the novels. I usually see three groups--those who have become evil, those who are being subjected to the evil, and those who stand by, trying not to be a part of either group. It is sad to think of all the examples of these times.


Posted May. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
SusanC.

Join Date: 03/25/13

Posts: 40

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

This is an age old question regarding the horrors of war and war crimes in general. How can seemingly normal human beings become such monsters? How do they follow the Hitlers of the world (and other dictators, despotic rulers, evil people etc)? Do they become so indoctrinated that they can't see right from wrong? Well that is still happening and has happened recently and is still happening around the world. Some people are so desperate to look up to and admire/follow something/someone that they will ignore what is going on around them. If they think these evil acts will make their lives somehow "better" they will cross that Rubicon into darkness.


Posted May. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gabi's Gravatar
Gabi

Join Date: 02/22/21

Posts: 18

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

No, I don't believe they were all evil - even Eva finds out that not all wearing a German uniform were comfortable with what was happening when she learns that Erich, a German soldier, is passing information to Pere Clement. I think there are those who are lost, fearful, ignorant, and/or disenfranchised souls looking to be heard, understood and/or need to belong to "something" who are susceptible to a charismatic evil leader, a unifying cause, "group think" and a lack of accountability ("just following orders") to justify atrocities against humanity (or animals or the environment). Sadly, this type of behavior is not limited to war time at a country level.


Posted May. 25, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

Posts: 110

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

It's important to remember that plenty of people hated "the Jews" at that time. Many of the French soldiers at Drancy likely felt that those people didn't deserve any better and so didn't have a problem returning home and becoming "normal." I'm sure there were those people who also felt that their day's work had helped to return France to its previous glory (or whatever).


Posted May. 26, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Theresa

Join Date: 06/22/20

Posts: 20

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

Another question that arises from this question is: "After returning home after the war, were any of the soldiers ashamed with what they had taken part in or thst they had just stood by and let happen?


Posted May. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
loisk

Join Date: 05/16/21

Posts: 8

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

I don't believe the officers were all evil. Many of them were very frightened, and, therefore, compliant with the Nazis. Also, many of them were prejudiced against Jews and used that as an excuse for their horrendous acts.


Posted May. 31, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolt

Join Date: 03/25/17

Posts: 110

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

I don't believe all the officers were evil, but I do believe all of them were, to some extent at least amoral and unable to see another side. Yes, I think people - both the evil-dowers and the victims - are able to turn off their sense of humanity. Once it is off, however, I wonder if they can turn it back on. This is a particularly interesting question given the current state of the US.


Posted May. 31, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

Posts: 110

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

At the top, where the author responds to questions, she says that she interviewed a concentration camp survivor and he told her that in order to survive he had to turn off his feelings and that after the war he couldn't turn them back on again. It's interesting that Eva poses this question as she observes the soldiers at Drancy. I wonder if any of them had the same kind of thing happen.


Posted May. 31, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
charlenem

Join Date: 09/27/15

Posts: 9

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

I attended a class titled "Why Do Good People Do Bad Things".
Fear was one of the main reasons
Physical, peer acceptance, power.
Erich proved by helping Eva & sacrificing his own life that once you loose that fear & realize the sense of power you feel is false you wake up to the atrocities you have helped perpetrate.
My husband, while in the Air Force, went to Survival School which included a "pretend" concentration camp. After a few weeks the "guards" would actually begin to really hurt the "prisoners" & had to be rotated out. This is an example of how power over another can corrupt.
"The Book of Lost Names" points out how we can loose our sense of morality & can find it again.


Posted Jun. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynu

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 9

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

I do not believe all were evil. I feel in mankind it is a learned behavior. You then have those who were fearful of the consequences had they not followed orders. Are there some who were evil by nature? Some and they carried a big stick.


Posted Jun. 13, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

Posts: 110

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

I just read a non-fiction book called The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Loves of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley. Christine was a Polish woman widely considered to be the first female spy of WWII. Among her many exploits, she spent time in France as a courier and a wireless operator working with others in her network. In the Battle of Vercors, resistance fighters fought fiercely but couldn't hope to win against the Nazi forces. Afterward, thousands of civilians were murdered, nearly all women over age 14 were raped. One German soldier who was killed was found with an unsent letter in his pocket. It reads, in part, "How savagely these people were killed by us. We completely exterminated a hospital of partisans, with doctors and nurses....., but those pigs deserved nothing more."

Whether the hatred was innate or taught, many of the soldiers hated deeply and passionately. I sure some of them never regretted what they did.


Posted Jun. 14, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gabi's Gravatar
Gabi

Join Date: 02/22/21

Posts: 18

RE: Observing the officers in Drancy Eva...

Above Theresa furthers this discussion by asking whether the German soldiers returning home after the war felt guilty and/or ashamed for their actions. An interesting question. My assumption (and hope) is that many of the German men and women were horrified by what they did under the guise of fighting for their country (or saw others do and did nothing to prevent). Furthermore, I hope the “Madame Fontaines” of the war, the neighbors who turned in their neighbors and whose greed allowed them to loot and move into that same neighbor’s apartment met with their karma after the war.


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