Jiří Weil

Czech communist writer, joined the Young Communists in 1921 and began writing cultural articles for The Red Right, the CP newspaper. The first to translate Mayakovsky to Czech, he visited the Soviet Union for the first time in 1922, and later from 1933 to 1935 lived in the Soviet Union as a translator for the Comintern. In the later half of the 1930's he was expelled from the Communist Party for his opposition to stalinism. A Jew, he was called up for the "transports" in 1942 after living several years under the brutal Nazi occupation. Refusing to go to his death without resistance, he faked a suicide and spent the rest of the war living clandestinely in apartments and other lodgings his acquaintances could help him find. Stayed in Czechoslovakia after the war. A radical writer, the spirit of resistance permeates his works.

Life with a Star (1960): 270 pages. Based largely on Weil's own experience as a Jew living under Nazi occupation. Having lived through those horrific days, Weil describes Jewish Prague vividly and realistically, a Prague that was destroyed by the Nazis and has never returned. The main character, a leftist Jew who is isolated from his comrades and the love of his life and feels as if he has little to live for, as he sees Jewish Prague and it's beauty being systematically destroyed. Yet as events progress, he becomes convinced of the absolute need for resistance, that one should always and forever resist, whatever the difficulty involved and even if one has little to live for. A passionate argument to never give in to injustice and fanaticism, this beautiful, radical novel is a tribute to the many Jews who resisted their fate, either armed or unarmed, in big and small ways, to ensure the survival of many from the fascist genocide.

Mendelssohn Is On The Roof (1959): 228 pages. The novel's events take place mainly in Nazi-occupied Prague. It deals with the struggle of many different Jews to survive, some in hiding and others as laborers for the Nazis. The novel also satirizes, somewhat darkly of course, the racial idiocies and craziness of the Nazis: people who would use their extensive cultural knowledge in the interests of such things as removing statues to Jewish musicians! It also clearly shows the reality behind the myth of Nazi "efficiency": in reality the Nazi "machine" was very inefficient and the terror it inflicted led subordinates to exaggerate for no reason and often lie about accomplishments to avoid punishment. A passionate novel calling for resistance to fascism and oppression, everywhere and always.