tv 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Prize CSPAN July 31, 2016 6:30am-8:01am EDT
act in 1964 that don't with public accommodations, dealt with suffrage, they dealt with being able to go to theaters . they don't with railroads. the southern railroad car act that becomes the heart of plessy v. ferguson was passed in 1890, not in 1865 and it was the first of three such states that did this in 1888, 1890s. area it took until 1906 for southcarolina to pass these things . so they didn't all rush to do a separate society >> jury in that. said that the majority of the space was to bound by precedent in the future. so had there been a bunch of incidents that these abolitionist northerners on their ... well, just in both so were they ...
>> the supreme court begins to narrow the definition of the 14th amendment starting in the florida house faces in the 1870s. if they had ruled the other way in plessy v. ferguson it would have reversed 20 years of what they had been doing of what was the same course with different justices, it would have reversed 20 years of precedent if you will. i don't know that they were to bound by precedent . that sounds like somebody who had come to a different conclusion. they thought that what their conclusion was about the amendment was correct. we like to think their laws were bad but they thought they were correct. >> to backup for a second before we move on, who was over plessy and why was he at the center of the case? >> he was the second of two young men elected to enter a white car on two different
louisiana railroads in preparation for the test states was going to go to the supreme court if the strategists could engineer it . he was knocked arrested for or manhandled as a result of an accident. the railroad was in on it. they wanted to test the case because they didn't have to have separate railroad cars, they could have fewer railroad cars and it would be less expensive for them. if they were going to have to have separate railroad cars they needed to know how many they were supposed to have so they agreed to the rest and plessy knew he was going to be arrested. it was the second of two such cases and it screwed the first one up the first one , they on. the state supreme court in louisiana said that you couldn't cross state lines with a separate railroad car
so you couldn't tell mississippi or alabama how they should design their railroad cars with an interstate railroad and then the lawyers of plessy looked at the ruling and said gosh, that means that a railroad that stays within the state can have separate railroad cars so we get them to actually say and draft the case, did do you somehow create the situation. >> the conductor knew he was supposed to arrest plessy. he was chosen in part because he looked white and the lawyers wanted to argue that you couldn't enforce the law in which you cannot tell the color of the people that you are being asked to separate. if the man looks white, he's in the black car then what is he doing there? >> so further in that process we move on to our next chapter. who was out beyond the day and why might he but kind of
a glimpse of the future in our world today? >> allison j was born in eastern ohio in what was called the western reserve. he was the most famous white advocate for civil rights in america by the 1890s. it was a best-selling author of novels that were reconstruction novels that in north carolina where he had moved as a young man determined to make the civil war become real, he said finish the job. hewas a carpetbagger , as was people in the south. he left there, run out of town because of his activities. >> so he was a social justice warrior? >> he would like that term i think if you were alive today and he ends up in the case almost by accident. the committee of new orleans
and i would say that there's, the only city in the country that this case could logically come from would have been new orleans because there wasn't a wealthy, educated class of black individuals in charleston, richmond, savannah but in new orleans this mixed race group which had been free before the civil war, after the civil war instead of being regarded as kind of a third class became quote, black. andthey didn't much like it because to be black was worse than being white . so, by the time this law came along they wanted to go off and they were very subtle about it. they called themselves the committee to challenge the constitutionality of the separate car law. they sent a letter. >> so it's another 60 years before brown versus board of
education and the tremendous amount of jim crow legislation that went through as a result of this case and we know how seminalmoment it was in american history . >> thank god i'm not doing that 60 years as well. >> now were going to move on to another seminal moment in not just american history and not just the history of japan but the history of the world and susan southard's book "nagasaki: life after nuclear war" is about, i went to japan to the society fellowshipabout 20 years ago . in volusia, is that the way you pronounce it? >> the box shot. >> these were the survivors of the nuclear bomb and you focused on a few characters
to tell your story and the narrative through: gina golf, she was a woman, yoshida and walmart. how did you find them? >> well, i knew mister koenig achieved first before i began the book read back in 1986 i was in washington dc and i went to hear him speak, he was on a speaking tour and i don't remember how it unfolded but i think i must have given him my business card because the next day i got a call asking if i could step in and be his interpreter for the final two days he was in dc and it was quite a life transforming two days for me because he spoke no english so reading his
english translations of his english and japanese presentationswas easy. he would say something and i would read the english but in all the time in between , hours and hours of time we had together i got to talk with him and ask him about his life, he was 57 then and it was phenomenal. >> and did he introduce some of the other characters for you? >> i went to nagasaki the following year to see him and i met some survivors then but it wasn't working on the book yet. and i stayed in touch with him a little bit over the years and when i decided to write the book in 2003, i knew he would be a character and i contacted him again but i contacted the nagasaki
atomic bomb museum, the nagasaki national peace memorial hall and an organization called the nagasaki foundation for the promotion of peace to try to find survivors i could interview. and so i did. that in 2003 i met two more survivors, mrs. dole and mister water area and i collected hundreds of testimonies and as i got to know the story more of what was happening beneath the atomic bomb and in the years that followed i knew there were other kinds of stories i needed in order to at least give some representation of you know, five people doesn't represent the experiences of hundreds of thousands of people but i was trying to get a family story and i was trying to get mister yoshida,
the final one was the youngest, he was 13 and mrs. not to know had an amazing story of her family, what happened to her and her family in the aftermath of the bombing. >> i know you run a theater but 13 years, that's a pretty long time. >> thank you. >> how many trips did it take because it was a big project. >> 12years, it's sad enough it was those 12 . >> how many trips did you take to japan? >> after my editor. >> that is a very difficult thing to research something in a different language and i know you use the number of interpreters, you also speak japanese but how many times did you go there? >> for the book i went five times to nagasaki directly .
and had all my interviews set up in advance, all my research. i interviewed many physicians and psychologists and historians and archivists and spent a lot of time in the libraries there. i don't read and write japanese well so most of my sources were in english except for the original versus the interviews which i did and japanese. >> one of the things that i found really interesting about this book is how the us basically tried to censor and prevent the truth from coming out. john hersey was able to do a book about hiroshima that started as a new yorker piece but you know, the chicago tribune for instance got into nagasaki and they had his report. >> so when macarthur entered japan in september 1945 he issued a japanese press code which basically, it never said you couldn't talk about
obama but that media couldn't talk about the bomb but there were so many rules that ultimately there was nothing that could be said publicly in the media about the atomic bombings. and so for the next four years no one else even in japan really knew what was going on in both oshima and nagasaki so when george weller ... >> that's the tribunereporter that's the tribune reporter, he snuck his way down . all the american and european press controlled and were only able to go to certain places when they would come to japan after the war but he did a, he went on a certain little tiny junkets to some really uninteresting place
but then he escaped and made his way down and making his way, nagasaki is far, it's the southern coast of the main island and the trains were all destroyed. it took him a long time to get down to nagasaki and then he pretended to be an american official and lied his way to getting a lot of support by the officials in nagasaki, the japanese people but he had to submit his dispatches to the occupation censorship office which everything had to go through and they never passed through and eventually, this is an amazing book, eventually a carbon copy of all of his writings were found in his home, i think it's initaly
and they were published along time ago . >> trying to forget that the japanese surrender when he wrote he told went onthe radio and surrendered , it had had nothing to do with nagasaki, you could argue that it had a lot to do with hiroshima and the russians getting ready to intervene but is it now pretty clear that nagasaki was absolutely unnecessary when it came to ending world war ii? >> that's a big question. i am ... i cannot say to that level of certainty that you are saying jonathan.it's somewhat close to that but because a lot of japanese military and governmental documents were destroyed between the surrender and the occupation, we don't have every record but basically
there's no evidence for the records that we do have that the nagasaki bomb had anything to do with the surrender which happened 11 hours later. in fact, the russian invasion of manchuria, japanese held manchuria 11 hours before he not a sake bombing was one of the key things that was being heatedly discussed all day and they found out about the nagasaki bombing 40 minutes after it occurred but it didn't, in conversation, in the debate of what to do so i think it's close but it's not , you know, the door is not completely shut on it only because it's a difficult assessment to fully make. >> one of your characters says he doesn't hate americans anymore, he just hates war. and is that you think the consensus among the
hibakusha? >> it's hard for me to speak for all hibakusha because there's so many who have died in the year since the bombing and even if you are alive now but i don't know. it is true amongst those i know, that's for sure. >> your characters, all of whom are still alive, would that be common for all of them? in other words, was there any hostility you coulddetect when they were discussing this ? >> before i chose them as my final ones when i was setting up interviews with thenumbers people i did have one interview cancel , the woman decided she'd never met an american and she didn't want to. the interview was set up through, she was a childhood friend of somebody else i had interview and a childhood friend said, told her you
should have this interview and then she canceled it so i can't say across the board. and i just want to say without, spoiler alert that not everyone is still alive. just for the record. >> so the museum, there's a new museum that nagasaki that's been built there. at the time i was visiting the museum hiroshima was less willing to contextualize them than the museum in nagasaki, in other words hiroshima i don't think they mention pearl harbor. in nagasaki they had some context about japanese military. what is your sense of how they are coming to terms with this part of their history and also how americans can make a point of this that americans have not really
come to terms with this parts , with the toll that the bomb took on human beings in our education system? >> one thing that was interesting, some of you may know about the smithsonian national air and space museum debacle in 1995 when they were going to do an exhibit of the making and delivery of the bomb and then also provide some photographs and artifacts for, of the survivors and of survival in hiroshima and nagasaki and ultimately the military froze up in protest and the exhibit was shut down except for the fuselage of the in a gay so in nagasaki similarly in 1996 the nagasaki atomic bomb museum was going to include
more of its military atrocities in china and it got slammed down by the more right-wing militaristic faction in the country so it's unresolved in both countries to some degree but again, it's hard for me to an entire city because the hibakusha are now, the youngest would be 71 this summer and the oldest of the ones i know is 89, i think were 90 now and there's a whole number of generations that have followed and it's very much an anti-nuclear city, i would say and all the children are educated, have a piece education program in
every school. it's very interesting, i went to be a part of it a few times but i don't know that the result their own, that their military caused in the same way i don't think we have resulted. >> interms of the health effects , at one point if you are within one mile of ground zero your chances of getting cancer were something like 50 percent or something like that area. >> i'm afraid i don't know. oh my goodness. like steve was saying, there's so many aspects, i had to become very first ... >> there was a lot of fear that there would be some congenital problems that resulted from the radiation but that has not happened as much as there was a fear that there was a tremendous amount of radiation, cancer as a
result of radiation, leukemias and other kind of cancers and as late as the 1960s the american press was still buying the argument that that was not the case? >> you are right when you said they have concentric circles from the center extending outward and everything in the research in japan and the united states after the war is my distance and my shielding and it's quite a complicated factor of who got sick and who didn't and a lot of it even then is arbitrary it seemed so yes, i think, i don't remember saying something about in the 1960s in the book ... >> i looked at newsweek and us news printed the study that said there wasno
long-term radiation affect . >> it's absolutely remarkable how blatant the denial was in this country. in the media. and how easy it is because of that and because of the kind of official narrative that are government created about the bomb, singular ended the war and save 1 million american lives closed down the fact that you know, for the people who survived both bombings, the war neverended . because they felt like they had beenburned from the inside out . >> it is certain of what esquire called a short single burger bulgarian, japan may find itself under pressure to
go nuclear. how do you think they would feel about carrying around nuclear capability and also since we are talking about, today we had heard president obama will be seeing it when he goes to hiroshima. >> i think president obama will be verywelcomed , that's my sense. i wish you would go to nagasaki as well . and i think he's going to be very cautious in his remarks so as to initiate as little controversy as possible, that's my sense of everything so far that led up to today's announcement . as far as the van getting a nuclear weapon, japan is not a unilateral country but generally speaking the people really like their piece constitution that the team wrote and to me it would be
hard to imagine a nuclear weapon actually being built there or if it did it would be quite a while, i think it's really beyond my imagination that japan would actually, that the people wouldultimately allow it . >> is it, do the nationalists want it? do the breadwinners, i know they want to get out from under the piece constitution and militarize a little bit. >> i'm afraid i don'tknow, i didn't study it well enough to be able to answer that correctly but i'm guessing yes . they don't want to be dependent on the united states for that protection. >> great, well mark, you went in a different direction from susan and steve in that instead of hearing the kind of conventional or more conventional tom lucas
approach, conventional is minimizing a fine narrative technique but the idea of selecting half a dozen characters, as susan did, tom lucas did, you decided you were going to do something different. you could have done that. >> i thought about that. >> why did you decide not to? >> if i could stand going back to reading my original proposal what i would find is exactly that i did try and tell the story of the concentration camp through the history, through the stories of maybe a dozenor so individuals . the more i worked on this the more i realized that wasn't going to be the way to go for me in this case because even 12 people couldn't tell you a representative story of the camp.
there's certain images, certain things in the concentration camp, one important thing to say is that there isn't a typical prisoner . your experience in the camp very enormously depending on your national background, your job, your age, when you were taken to the camp, your gender, which camp you were taken to. who you ended up with in that camp, where you ended up in the hierarchy so just going through this now you can see that we're dealing with a huge number of different groups of prisoners and victims and i wanted to tell their story as comprehensively as i could. there were also of course the point that a lot of the inmates did not survive. those who they call the drowned, how do i give them a voice? i could interview them. you had to find other ways to try and make their stories
just as much part of the narrative as the story of those that we do have. >> i noticed you went back there a number of times, did that help your narrative? it's such a matter work of synthesis, it's so daunting what you accomplished so brilliantly really but to keep the reader going, did you feel like you had to introduce certain humane voices? >> i tried, i preached a lot about what my tone should be for this book, what the right kind of language would be. the decision i took early on was that i wanted to take myself out of the narrative if i could and try as much as possible to let the survivors, the prisoners and
those who didn't survive but also the perpetrators and those who looked onto the camps from outside speak and weave their stories into the narrative. i was really surprised at the work i did how many prisoners in the camps themselves tried to write their experiences, tried to weave incidences of their lives inside their loved ones, families, friends and so on. these are secret diaries that leaves secret notes and even photographs taken and they give an incredibly immediate insight into what that camps were like at the time, what prisoners felt at the time, the rumors which go around in the camps and so on but it's a bit like a choir of different voices and some of them crop up again and again and some you only hear once.
>> there's so much in this book that i did not know and i thought i knew a fair amount about concentration camps and studied how many there were, i guess 27 maine can't and 100 satellite camps across how many countries? and what work could you just briefly tell us about the differences between the camps , which were work camps and which were death camps? >> how long do i have? the reason the book is how long it is, it's a heavy toll . let's maybe go for the paperback. i'll try to make it easier for you because that is sucha broad question so , auschwitz. it was the only one of the camps that was central to the final solution in that 1.7 million jews died in the camp.
most of those who died in the holocaust died outside the camp and auschwitz, there had been a bit of a different category than the other camps that you cover, why? >> auschwitz is a good starting point for the discussion. in recent decades auschwitz has become almost synonymous with the holocaust and also with the concentration camps system. this is what most people associate with the camps and the holocaust now but three things to say here, one, there is more to the holocaust than auschwitz. this is a point i tried to make in the book. auschwitz is the single most deadly place in the nazi so-called final solution. there's no other site in german controlled europe where more jews were murdered than auschwitz and yet many more jews are killed elsewhere than auschwitz. in ditches, in forests and in
special death camps like treblinka which operate differently, separately so that's the first thing to say. there's also more to auschwitz than the holocaust. auschwitz was not set up as a camp to murder the jews of europe, it was set up in 1940 two destroyed the polish opposition and even when auschwitz becomes also a death camp of the holocaust and it is the only one of those concentration camps which becomes a major death camp of the holocaust, even then it has other contributions. these camps have multiple functions, slave labor, medical experiments and so on but there is more to auschwitz than the holocaust and there is more to the concentration camp system than auschwitz. auschwitz is set up in 1940, dachau is in existence for more than seven years and camps like auschwitz are influenced, shaped by those earlier camps. it is in the cow where he's
first met auschwitz learned how to abuse prisoners at the ss which he then implements in auschwitz the story is much bigger. auschwitz is part of this wider network of camps and i'm starting the book with three different scenes from dachau which try i hope to bring home how dynamic and different the system was. before, there wasn't a typical prisoner, there's also no typical camp but dachau in 1933 is a tiny improvised site, a run down music munitions factory which they set up to hold some local communists area about 100, 120 of those men. they're treated fairly humanely. they sleep in the same building as the guards and all they don't think they're being there for very long. 1939, completely different
scene. several thousands of prisoners, strike uniforms, suddenly we have this order of terror which we associate with a death camp and then 1945 we have 30,000 from all over europe, no longer just germans, they are tiny minority now and we have have to prisoners all over the camp and the allies arrived. even a state like dachau has changed completely and a lot of prisoners died after liberation, right?>> at one point you said 10 percent in a couple of camps after they liberated were soweak . >> my estimate is up to 50,000 survivors don't survive the first week or month of liberation area the book, the main chapter ends with liberation, and with the liberation of dachau and there is a scene which i
described to prisoners, german prisoners who embrace and they cry and there is great elation that the americans are here finally they are free and it would have been tempting after a book which is about the most unimaginable horrors to end with this on an upbeat note, if you will. a schindler's list happy end if you will but that would have beenwrong. it would have been false. what i did in the epilogue is told the story of these two men and it's not a happy ending . they both end up in america but they live hand to mouth. one of them works as a professional santa claus, as a doorman in cinema before he goes back to europe and dies unassisted and his former colleague doesn't fare much better. and these stories post liberation, there are part of the camps too. i don't want to ... it would
have been tempting to end with this moment of liberation which you can read about and see and there are the pictures in the book of liberating prisoners in dachau cheering and so on but these kinds of jubilation doesn't last very long. >> there are many holocaust survivors in the united states and in a presentation called the blue card that helps those who didn't have any family here. they came like that man who played santa claus for a while and they had hard lives in the united states but i was also struck by how little justice there was and that some workers in the camps, prison guards, those who were often charged with inmates,
some of them were actually executed whereas founders got away scott free and not just by going to latin america, they somehow faced some of the executives who set up these loader camps that might as well have been death camps with the death toll in them. >> it's not just the businessmen themselves, it's also the rank-and-file guards, most of them get away. polish colleagues have tried to follow the path of former auschwitz guards and i think 6000 or 6500 or so survived the second world war and maybe 15 percent of them end up in court so you can do the math, the great majority don't. in the early postwar period, in the early months and years
there are a large number of trials. they are very haphazard but there are trials and most of the big leaguesof the camp system are tried . but most of the rank-and-file getaway and by the time you get to the late 40s, early 50s of the cold war, it's no longer politic to talk about the past, everybody wants to move on in east and west and basically east germany and west germany cease these trials and thesefall by the wayside . >> i want to talk with all three a little bit about technique. everybody has their own quirky system, it might be a certain kind of software or it might be a ritual that you use for writing. susan, what's your secret sauce and how you get this done >> i have no technique .
for me it was all structure. i would have to you know, first of all i had a researcher for 11 of the 12 years that i worked on the book because i'm not a trained historian and ... >> could have fooled me. >> thank you but she contributed a great deal in finding documents i never would have known how to find so that was my system, okay, i will tell you. i would read hundreds of books and i would mark them and i either, my researcher or other people that i hired part-time would stand and i would put them in categories and so every chapter had you know, maybe 30 or 40 small categories of the survivors,
the primary survivor stories, the main characters and all the other hundreds of survivors who may have, they are not name but their stories are woven into the narrative , the us prospectus , the medical perspective, the social and psychological, the rebuilding of the city, all of these different things and i would just, i would read the major sources and all the minor sources. i would kind of divided up and i would have to read again and decide what's the story and how to do it and then i'd have to decide what's the structure? what those first and how are they integral related westmark the level of trying to find out how to write that narrative for me was the greatest challenge and my editor melanie, she had a great deal to do with in particular some certain chapters, helping me
restructure in a way that would hold the story well, hold all those components well because there's the personal narrative and the exposition needed to flesh out, like you were saying, five people can't tell the story of postnuclear survival. >> you will need to my ghostwriter. i was tempted at the beginning and it would have made my life easier if i structured thematically, that would have been possible so a chapter on labor, a chapter on time, a chapter on prisoner relations or, that would have made it easier to write in a way but it wouldn't have worked because as i tried to saybefore these concentration check camps even though they existed for a short period of time were incredibly dynamic .
first the camp system when it comes to power and then reinvented again and again so you can only tell that story in a chronologically given way and that made it much more difficult to be these different themes in without repeating myself all the time. what really helped me was also the structure and i decided then a few years in on a very strict structure which i had to conform to in a way. there was a full movement in the neighboring countries in denmark, 10 or 15 years ago called denmark, i'm not sure if you remember this but they had strict rules about what was in a loud and what wasn't and in a sense i tried to post it in a similar way. one chapter has three subchapters, each subchapter
and another subchapter so i knew that it forced me into a certain rhythm. it forced me into not overwriting because the book could have been ... >> does silent song after a concentration camp? >> i interviewed the director a couple weeks ago in london, i think he's extraordinary and he told me that for whatever reason the other only country it didn't do particularly well in was germany we're not done yet but yes. >> i won an award for not writing a book. [laughter] i'm not sure i'm an authority on how to finish one. i would say that a lot of writers want discipline from
people like us and i've read the same story but you have to get up in the morning, i do my yoga. i write 500 words before breakfast then i take a walk and i set up a goal for myself of writing 600 words a day or whatever that is. i think that's nonsense for most writers. but what it really bothered me, my first book was it sounded like a recipe for daily failure and nobody wants to fail every day so for me, i use the word math, i'm quite mathematical about this, i have 22 chapters in my book and i have to finish by the state. that means i have tofail once every month . i have a deadline or i'm going going to write one chapter a month and i can only fail once a month. [laughter]
>> i'm going to use that. >> that's good, that's good. >> i'm still trying to figure out how i got an award for a work in progress. work in progress was what you told an editor when she came up to you and said i've read your lead and it's not very good and use a work in progress, work in progress . [laughter] >> the thing is, so many people have great ideas for books and as susan, you were a finalist for the work in progress in 2012 i believe it was and steve who wrote factory man which will be a tom hanks movie on hbo, she said she couldn't have finished your book without the work in progress award. you are able to finish it but you got a lot of help from other people so how do you do that? i know when your acknowledgments, you had more
than a half-dozen people who supported you in some fashion. you go out and get grants or ... >> i had support on so many levels. i got a fewgrants . small, high hired teams once i got the contract with viking and before year, oh no. so i hired a team of translators to help me with all the interviews, it would've taken me another five or six years to do. and i had my researcher and i borrowed money. i had, my parents are near, they helped me a great deal. i had to borrow a lot of money from family members and against my retirement . >> it's a work in progress award and that's to keep people from having tomorrow money from their parents.
>> clicks the questions, we got about 10 minutes or a little more to take some questions. mark polansky. >> if i can sneak in a couple of questions, i was curious about the hidden diaries. where did you try this, did different family members given to you? >> most of them are published, some of them are unpublished in memorial sites. i went to a lot of memorial sites. >> there no longer hidden, they were just hidden at that time. >> net that time. this includes notes and letters written by jewish prisoners forced by the nazis to work at a gas chamber in austerlitz who hid these notes in little bottles which they then buried in the ground. >> hidden cameras as well, you said. >> there was acamera that smuggled in and they managed to take place and leave as is . but there are also prisoners who managed to write very
long diaries undetected. there's a norwegian prisoner who starts actually literally being republished. a lot of his material is long out-of-print and these are very long diaries in the cabinet goes back to housing near berlin because these relatively privileged, he can record the goings-on and the suffering of a prisoners and one thing that sticks in our mind is a description of unimaginable suffering. he writes after that incident in his secret diary, my language is exhausted. he doesn't have any more weapons to describe this horror and i don't know what he felt but that's something which echoed around in my head. >> edward morrow when he got to buchenwald he said he had no words.
i think that he had a huge impact on the american public when offer of his stature went there and he couldn't say words but the present itself that too. there's another diary of a female prisoner, a hungarian prisoner in auschwitz and she kind of later writes a diary in a camp where it's possible for her to write secret notes and she writes about how in 1944 iraqis women in auschwitz, hungarian jews talk about how they are suffering could ever be commemorated or explained to somebody who wasn't there and they think could be with a film? could it be music, could it be art?how could we ever explain what happened eschenbach and in the end they explained that they can't. there isn't a way to really capture this. >> i just had another questionalso . did you go to the us
government people orjust archives ? and where they reset it? >> i did not go to us government officials, just archives because i was trying to juxtapose what was happening in the us and how the us was proceeding and i needed to stay focused on the survivors stories over the 70 years. >> comment is okay to area yes? >> about a week ago i read an article in the new york times about how many of the survivors are living in poverty now. how is that rationalized? >> the question was about how many survivors are living in poverty now. nick, you might be able to answer about england, i'm on the board of a blue card which is an organization in the united states devoted to helping poor holocaust
survivors and the reason is that in a certain number of cases as they came here after the second world war they didn't have family here, they were from europe area they were accepted as refugees so they didn't have the family support structures. they didn't give, some of them did not make much money over the course of their lives and now they are elderly and they don't, they need some help. we have dentists involved provided free dental care, holocaust survivors with a blue card and you wouldn't think it would be a problem. you would think the mainstream jewish organizations would be taking care of these folks but they kind of slipped through the cracks and it's been a problem for a while, the blue card has come around for a while and if you are interested, get in touch with
the blue card and help them out. >>. [inaudible question] it was a constant struggle for survivors to get even some kind of compensation or pension from the authorities and i mentioned before the dachau survivor who comes over and works with the associate dave back and lives in utter poverty and one of the files i found that i managed to track down his institution trial so that's his claims to the general authorities and again and again even his media pension wasn't paid to him. he literally was more or less starving and he then writes this letter to his father in 1979 where he writes to the german authorities from italy something along the lines of it will probably be betterfor everybody if i killed myself
. then you would have on complainant less to deal with . this is not an isolated story. >> this is called the us claims conference which for the last 20 years has been involved in trying to get more money but it doesn't end up being much money for any individual holocaust survivor. >> i know people who were in their 40s and their parents were at hiroshima and nagasaki and they get tested every year so it's interesting that while early on, i was trying to find out how you reconcile the government ignoring it so early and now there's this extensive testing. japan, they did the children and grandchildren of survivors. the only the ignoring story. >> japan resisted providing healthcare benefits to be
hibakusha. it was the united states that denied radiation will care. yes. that's, yeah. and research continues. this massive, lifelong study for both the aging survivors, their children and their grandchildren because as you said, the children, there have been no scientific data that there's been an outcome but they're not sure if it's going to skip a generation so there's still questions. >> the other thing that i think everybody knows is the nuclear weapons we have now are 100 times the power of nagasaki or more. >> my name is robin. i'm very curious to know how you felt personally with the horrific events that were described to you in your interviews around staying true to the goal of your
mission and the goal of telling this bigger picture and the goal of choosing your project. how did you handle that when witnesses are refusing all this information from people who had been so traumatized and continue to be? what do you do personally, how do you deal? >> great question. >> my main way was that i grew to really love the survivors that i got to know. i knew them, i knew their stories far better than their children did for example. some of their children speak and read english and they've learned so much about their parents. so because i cared about them so much and how different each one was like you were saying and how you know,
trying to capture their unique experience and because i cared about them so much as older adults, that's what helps me to stay grounded. it doesn't mean that i always felt grounded. there were many times when i couldn't bear it anymore but the best, that was my touch point all the time, having their photos that as i knew them at the time of writing as older adults, having them in front of me to look at and remember their energy and their essence, their way of expressing themselves, the way some of them began to care for me as a human being. there's a relationship there. that was what helpedme the most . i'm going to say one thing, that we had to be in our collection of photographs, we decided not to publish some of the worst photographs so it wasn't like we were always going as bad as it was.
>> to end on a more cheerful note, you've devoted your whole career and this is the only book you've written on this area. how do you stay cheerful amid this subject matter? >> those yoga lessons? [laughter]. i don't know. it's not always easy. i think some of the, the most difficult challenges really are to try and keep your empathy so that the people you are writing about, you have to have some distance in this material to be able to write it. if i broke into tears every time i looked at these testimoniesi wouldn't be able to write .it's a tricky
line you want here and another really tricky challenge for me in this book was to make a decision about which stories i would tell and which ones i couldn't tell . each prisoner experienced the camp in their own way and each of those stories deserves to be told but i couldn't tell them all . that in some ways what the hardest thing in this book to leave some of these incredible stories out. sometimes not writing about it is harder than writing about it. >> before we go. >> that wasn't really an apology. >> i just want to give titles of all these books for viewers who might have turned to din in the middle you can go out and buy them . steve luxenberg, it's going to be called "separate" and it's not evenready for preorder, it's not finished but look for it . were going to want to read that and nikolaus wachsmann's
[inaudible conversation] >> just look at some of the upcoming book fairs and festivals having around the country. on saturday, august 22, book tv is live at the second annual mississippi book festival held at the state capital in jackson featuring former senate majority leader trent lott and pulitzer prize-winning biography john meacham. on september 18 it's the brooklyn book festival. later in the month, the annual baltimore book festival will take place at the city's inner harbor and on saturday, september 24 for the 16th year in a row, book tv will be live with author talks and calling segments from national book festival hosted by the library of congress at the washington convention center.for more information about the festivals that book tv will