Saturday, May 09, 2009

decisively extreme

Only very rarely--and even then, cautiously--do I think of heroism in the old-fashioned sense. When I do, I can count four or five figures (of any era) whom I consider heroic. One of these is Kazik. Here is Kazik, alive and mostly well, a few years ago, on the set of Uprising (standing with Stephen Moyer, the actor who played him in the movie). A few years ago I had a chance to speak with Moyer about what it felt like to stand with Kazik, to play him, to attempt to do justice to the decisive extremity of his behavior. After this talk--certainly indirect contact with the man--I was sweaty in the palms. This was the city of my people--who'd gone, easily or with difficulty and maybe even somewhat resistantly--to the Umschlagplatz and gotten on the trains, bound for Treblinka. Kazik of course was one of those who did not get on the train. What is my relation to him? It's hard to decipher.

I promise that others on my list of heroes do not create such complex figurations.

My son, by the way, owns a signed copy of this photo.