After the conclusion of the Introduction, Judt begins with Part One: “The Heart of Darkness.” The main focus here is on the Holocaust and intellectuals: the voices for social change. Chapter III quickly caught my eye: The Jewish Europe of Manes Sperber. Sperber, an East-Central European Jew, was most well known for his writings, especially his semiautobiographical novel, “Like a Tear in the Ocean.” An accomplished man, some of Sperber’s achievements consist of being a founding father of Cold War liberalism and majorly contributing to the fight against the death penalty. Although he was born Jewish, Sperber lost his faith; he continued to blame this on the nine years he spent in Vienna. While in Vienna, Sperber focused on the radical left-wing Zionist movement. He later ventured to Berlin and became a member of the German Communist Party in 1927. While Hitler controlled Nazi Germany, Sperber nearly left communism; his hatred for Nazism crossed the path of his belief of Communism. Sperber moved to Paris around 1939 and began to once again practice Judaism. Judt explains, based on the life of Sperber, that if you must believe in just one truth, let it “be the first.” Judt’s statement leads me to agree with him, and believe that it was, truly, Sperber’s Eastern European Jewish roots that provided kept him from turning to revolutionary opportunism. He may have lost touch with his first religion for the majority of his life, but Sperber re-found Judaism within himself and was, in turn, able to resurface and connect with his faith.
Part Two focuses on Marxism the politics of intellectual engagement. Chapter V, in particular, discusses Albert Camus, France’s “best man.” Camus, born in Algeria, was the son of European immigrants. Throughout his life, Camus was always an advocate of anti-violence (this was always “near and dear” to him because of past parental issues). His main focus was always on education, and his Marxist views led him to be quite critical of “French policy.” Camus expresses this criticism of French policy through his essays and books. Camus’s writings became known as “an object of scorn, condescension, and neglect.” Judt argues that Camus was one of the last great writers in an era dominated by French writers. Camus’s main argument is that his childhood of poverty in Algeria was a problem-filled place; yet, in Paris, Camus felt he was still an outsider and had felt discomfort. Although Albert Camus did not have the best reputation, his honesty may have gotten him in trouble. As I saw it, Camus did not have enough time to prove himself: he tragically died in a car accident in France in January of 1960 at the age of forty-six. Camus had won the Nobel Prize for Literature three years before, although he was continuously criticized. Camus spoke from his own experiences and critics may have misinterpreted and lost the message he was trying to share.
As I reached Part Three, I immediately found Chapter VI “The Catastrophe, The fall of France, 1940” to be quite controversial, yet intriguing. Winston Churchill envisioned a new Europe: “the first step in the recreation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany.” However, this statement began to confuse people around the globe: between 1800 and 1940, France and Germany fought five major wars. Each ended with a