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What right did I possess, as a child of survivors, to recreate an account of the Holocaust as if I was there? In writing The Fiftieth Gate, Mark Baker describes a journey from despair and death towards hope and life; it is the story of a son who enters his parents’ memories and, inside the darkness, finds light. In his evocative prose, Baker takes us to this place of horror, and then brings us back to reflect on these events and remember: ‘Never again’.
Across the silence of fifty years, Baker and his family travel from Poland and Germany to Jerusalem and Melbourne, as the author struggles to uncover the mystery of his parents’ survival: his father Yossl was imprisoned in concentration camps and his mother Genia was forced into hiding after the Jews of her village were murdered.
Twenty years on from its first publication, The Fiftieth Gate remains an extraordinary book. It has become a classic and has now sold over 70,000 copies. In Baker’s new introduction, he recalls his motivations for writing this important memoir, and highlights how the testimonial culture in Holocaust studies has spread to awareness of other genocides and our responsibility (and failure) to prevent them.
‘Combining precise historical research and poetic eloquence, Mark Baker’s The Fiftieth Gate remains the gold standard of second generation Holocaust memoirs on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary edition.’
‘Baker does with memory, what Rembrandt does with light. He uses it to model, to imagine, to illuminate, to astonish.’
‘Heartrending and beautiful…This simply written, subtly complex narrative is instantly recognisable as a masterpiece, and the reader is rewarded by the light it sheds.’