The Commandant of Lubizec
“This is a vividly detailed, terrifying, convincing, and completely spellbinding story rooted in those murderous events we now call the Holocaust. It is also the story of a loving, good-humored family man who each morning goes off to oversee mass homicide — a dramatic example of what Hannah Arendt once referred to as ‘the banality of evil.’ Patrick Hicks has accomplished a very difficult literary task. He has given a believable and fresh and original face to barbarism. What a fine book this is.”
– Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried,
winner of the National Book Award
After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they quickly began persecuting anyone who was Jewish. Millions were shoved into ghettos and forced to live under the swastika. Death camps were built and something called “Operation Reinhard” was set into motion. Its goal? To murder all the Jews of Poland.
The Commandant of Lubizec is a harrowing account of a death camp that never actually existed but easily could have in the Nazi state. It is a sensitive, accurate retelling of a place that went about the business of genocide. Told as a historical account in a documentary style, it explores the atmosphere of a death camp. It describes what it was like to watch the trains roll in, and it probes into the mind of its commandant, Hans-Peter Guth. How could he murder thousands of people each day and then go home to laugh with his children? This is not only an unflinching portrayal of the machinery of the gas chambers, it is also the story of how prisoners burned the camp to the ground and fled into the woods. It is a story of rebellion and survival. It is a story of life amid death.
With a strong eye towards the history of the Holocaust, The Commandant of Lubizec compels us to look at these extermination centers anew. It disquiets us with the knowledge that similar events actually took place in camps like Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The history of Lubizec, although a work of fiction, is a chillingly blunt distillation of real life events. It asks that we look again at “Operation Reinhard”. It brings voice to the silenced. It demands that we bear witness.
Upcoming Readings & Signings
• The Poetry Center. Paterson, New Jersey. 5 December 2015.
• Jon Hassler Festival. Brainerd, Minnesota. 14-15 June 2015.
• Visiting Writers’ Series. DePaul University. Chicago, Illinois. 20 April 2015.
• Prairie Lights Bookstore. Iowa City, Iowa. 11 March 2015.
• Common Good Books. Saint Paul, Minnesota. 18 February 2015.
• Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education. University of Northern Iowa. Cedar Falls, IA. 5-7 November. 2014.
Recent Readings Include…
• Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival. Minneapolis, MN.
• Heartland Fall Forum – Great Lakes and Midwestern Indie Booksellers. Minneapolis, MN.
• South Dakota Festival of Books. Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
• Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus. London, England.
• Latymer School. Hammersmith, London, England.
• The Book Cellar. Chicago, Illinois.
• Loft Literary Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
• Luther College. Decorah, Iowa.
• Fresno City College. Fresno, California.
• Saint John’s University. Collegeville, Minnesota.
• Great Plains Writers’ Conference. (With Brian Turner and David Abrams). Brookings, South Dakota.
• Providence College. Providence, Rhode Island.
• American Booksellers Association. Winter Institute 9. Seattle, Washington.
• Western Wyoming Community College. Rock Springs, WY.
• The Poetry Center. Chicago, Illinois.
• The Irish Embassy. Washington, DC.
• Yankton Federal Prison. (Reading and Workshop). Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Yankton, South Dakota.
• Kirkwood Community College. Iowa City, Iowa.