I’ve read many books about the Holocaust, but that written by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, But You Did Not Come Back, is one of the most moving; in particular, a passage early on about Pitchipoi.
Other words you said haunted me then. Those words were more important than anything. You said them at Drancy, when we still didn’t know where we were going. Like everyone else, we said over and over again, ‘We’re going to Pitchipoi,‘ that Yiddish word that stands for an unknown destination and sounds so sweet for children. They would use it when they talked about trains as they set off. ‘They’re going to Pitchipoi,’ they’d said out loud, to reassure themselves.
It’s almost unbearable to read. The idea of children having to reassure themselves, in the light of such terrible uncertainty, with the name of a ‘place’ that ultimately stood for death.
In an old blog entry I quoted Jorge Luis Borges:
“A single moment suffices to unlock the secrets of life, and the key to all secrets is History and only History, that eternal repetition and the beautiful name of horror.”
Pitchipoi is a beautiful name for horror.