A Jew Must Die

A Jew Must Die

[a Novel Based on A True Story]

Book - 2010
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Praise for A Jew Must Die :

"Chessex, our new Flaubert, has no equal when describing horror without flinching, screaming sotto voce and exploring guilt in taut prose." --Le Nouvel Observateur

"A masterpiece. Beauty of the world, ubiquity of evil, God's silence, it's all there, delivered like a slap to the face." -- Le Point

"A great author explores a nightmare not as anachronistic as it might appear." -- L'Hebdo

A novel based on a true story.

On April 16, 1942, a handful of Swiss Nazis in Payerne lure Arthur Bloch, a Jewish cattle merchant, into an empty stable and kill him with a crowbar. Europe is in flames, but this is Switzerland, and Payerne, a rural market town of butchers and bankers, is more worried about unemployment and local bankruptcies than the fate of nations across the border. Fernand Ischi, leader of the local Nazi cell, blames it all on the town's Jewish population and wants to set an example, thinking the German embassy would be grateful. Ischi's dream of becoming the local gauleiter is shattered, however, when the milk containers used to dissimulate Bloch's body parts is discovered floating in a lake nearby, leading to his arrest.

Jacques Chessex , winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, is one of Switzerland's greatest authors. He knew the murderers, went to school with their children, and has written a terse, implacable story that has awakened memories in a country that seems to endlessly rediscover dark areas of its past.

Publisher: London : Bitter Lemon, 2010.
ISBN: 9781904738510
Branch Call Number: FICTION CHE


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Cdnbookworm Feb 20, 2014

This short novel is based on a true story. On April 16, 1942 a group of five men led by Fernand Ischi lures a man to a stable in the Swiss village of Payerne, kill him and dismember his body.
Ischi is a man unhappy with his own life, who has eagerly come under the influence of a pro-Nazi clergyman and is eager to prove himself and send a message to the Jews in his community of what he believes will soon come to them all. He has found eager assistants in two brothers who have lost their own-mismanaged farm and thus resent those farmers and the men who buy their product, the brothers' farmhand who follows them blindly, and the apprentice mechanic from Ischi's family's garage. Ischi's character is shown to us also in his relationship with women, as despite having a wife and two children, he engages in affairs, including a sadistic one with a very young woman. We see him for what he is: a man hungry for power and revenge, with a deluded sense of his own worth and entitlements.
The author of this book grew up in Payerne and was eight years old at the time this murder took place. He went to school with Ischi's daughter, the son of the local policeman, and the son of the judge that presided over the murder trials. Part of this story is his own reaction to the events and why he felt compelled to share them in this book, decades later. Chessex is one of Switzerland's most famous writers and has won both the Prix Goncourt and the French Literature Grand Prix of the Académie Française.

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