* Lew’s review of Nerin Gun’s “The Day of the Americans” … plus relevance for my new novel

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 5, 2014

Nerin Gun & An Untitled Novel

Nerin Gun was a Turkish reporter who ended up imprisoned at Dachau. His book, published in 1966, offers stunning first-hand images of the day Dachau was liberated by American forces

*** three SS men are still on their turret … they have pivoted their machine guns in the other direction, away from us, and they are peering into the distance … a single man emerges from behind a cement mixer parked at the edge of the camp … wearing a helmut embellished with leaves and branches … he moves cautiously forward, submachine gun in one hand, grenade in the other … he is still far away but I imagine I see him chewing gum … he comes cautiously, but upright, stalwart, unafraid …I almost expect him to be followed by a pure white charger … we knew America only by its films … this first image of the liberation was truly out of an American western … this soldier of the 3rd Battalion, 45th Combat Division was the very incarnation of the American hero … we will never forget those first few seconds … the memory of the unique, magnificent moment of your arrival … you had come at the risk of your life, into an unknown country, for the sake of an unknown people, bringing us the most precious thing in the world, the gift of freedom …

Gun is also quite critical of Pope Pius XII’s silence and inaction …

*** it is said that Pius XII saved a great many Jews who lived in Rome … no one denies this … but did not the Jews of Poland and other countries have the same right to stay alive?

Gun cites a legend of Saint Peter and applies it to Pope Pacelli …

*** Peter was fleeing Rome when he met Christ going in the opposite direction … Peter: Where are you going? Christ: I am going to Rome to be crucified in your stead … Peter turned back … I have wondered if Our Lord had ever appeared to Pius XII and said: I am going to Dachau to be crucified in your stead … but perhaps Pope Emilio Pacelli was no Saint Peter.



My main German and Polish (fictional) characters will end the war in a concentration camp, which I had intended to make Ohrdruf. Now I am thinking of changing this to Dachau. Having learned that Gun had earlier written about the Warsaw Ghetto, I am also going to see if I can create plausible fictional interactions between Gun and Anna in the Warsaw Ghetto and then again at the Dachau concentration camp. There is also the possibility of Anna, shortly after the war, reading what Gun wrote about Dachau. I could include the quote above and give appropriate credit.



2 Responses to “* Lew’s review of Nerin Gun’s “The Day of the Americans” … plus relevance for my new novel”

  1. Rocci Regazzi said

    The American soldier mentioned here who liberated Dachau was Gerald Caskey. He was my college professor. His account of that day was so clear and so riveting that I can almost hear him telling it now.

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