Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dr Baraban

In a weird entanglement of reality and fiction, Grossman's short story "In the town of Berdichev" mentions in passing a certain Dr. Baraban.

Дети, -- говорила она, -- дети, разве вы не знаете, что это за несчастье, -- и она тискала и топила на своей груди самого маленького Тутера. -- Это такое горе, это такое несчастье, это такие хлопоты. Каждый день они хотят кушать, и не проходит недели, чтобы у этого не было сыпи, а у того лихорадки или нарыва. А доктор Барабан, дай ему бог здоровья, за каждый визит берет десять фунтов пеклеванной муки.

in my translation:
"Children," she said, "children, don't you know what kind of misfortune they are" and she squeezed and drowned in her bosom the smallest Tutter. "It is such sorrow, such misfortune, such troubles. Each day they want to eat, and a week doesn't pass, that this one doesn't have a rash, and that one a fever or an abscess. And Doctor Baraban, God give him health, takes ten pounds of fine flour for each visit."

And here is mention of the real Dr Baraban of Berdichev, in excerpts from Grossman's "Black Book" documenting the slaughter in Berdichev during WWII.

After that, people were led out in groups of 150 to be shot. They were formed into a paired column, and loaded on trucks. The men were taken first - about eight hundred persons - then the women and children. Some of those who had been imprisoned in the monastery looked upon death as a relief after their terrible beatings, torments, hunger, thirst, and four months of German brigandry. People joined this line of death without attempting to delay the moment of death even for a few hours.

One man pushed his way to the entrance and shouted: "Jews, let me go first ! Five minutes and everything will be over. What is there to be afraid of? " That day two thousand people were shot, among them Dr. Vurnarg, Dr. Baraban, Dr. Liberman, Dr. Blank ( a dentist ), and the family of Dr. Rubinstein (also a dentist). This execution took place outside of town, in the area of the colective farm, Sakulino. At this new execution, before the very pits, 150 of the best artisans and technicians were selected. They were taken to the camp at Lysaya Gora. Gradually the best artisans and technicians were brought to this camp from other areas. All together, there were about 500 people in the camp.


Anonymous Nechama said...

I read somewhere that many of Grossman's characters had names and professions of real people that he had either met or knew by reputation. I read "In the town of Berdichev" a while ago and just downloaded it to my Kindle in Russian a week or two ago - planning to read again in the near future. By the way, someone showed me a free online depository of Russian books - both classics and modern literature. Have you seen it?

October 02, 2011 6:23 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

This is the first I heard of flibusta. But it sounds like it's the same books as

I don't have a Kindle, so I am not that intrigued by ebook formats.

October 03, 2011 9:26 PM  

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