Bautzen, Germany: Background information when reading The Blindness of the Heart

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The Blindness of the Heart

A Novel

by Julia Franck

The Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2010, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2011, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Bautzen, Germany

Print Review

Bautzen, located in the Upper Lusatia region, along the Spree River in Saxony, dates back to the Stone Age, though it was not mentioned in writing (as "Budusin") until the eleventh century. The city acquired its present name in 1868.

Its history has been marked by several widely documented events, including the pogroms on Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") from November 9-10, 1938, so named for the orchestrated destruction of numerous synagogues, homes, and Jewish businesses by Nazi stormtroopers.

It is also the site of Bautzen I and Bautzen II, prisons that acquired notoriety as the "Yellow Misery" and the "Stasi Prison," respectively, for their treatment of those who were considered political dissidents during the National Socialist Regime. According to the Gedenk Stätte Bautzen (Bautzen Memorial), "Bautzen is the symbol of political imprisonment in Germany."

The city, a regional administrative center, is also reknowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture and its population of Sorbs (descendants of Slavic settlers), whose language (similar to Czech) and heritage have long contributed to Bautzen's culture.

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Article by Karen Rigby

This article was originally published in November 2010, and has been updated for the May 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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