Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Badenheim (BAH-dehn-him). Fictitious Austrian resort town based on real Austrian resorts that Aharon Appelfeld and his family visited during the late 1930’s. The entire novel is set in and around Badenheim. The main attraction at this beautiful vacation resort is its music festival.

The original Hebrew title of the novel, which translates as “Badenheim, resort town,” emphasizes place even more than the book’s English title. By adding a date, the English title clearly sets the story in the context of the Holocaust.


Hotel. Huge Badenheim building adjoined by the spacious, beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. The clientele of the hotel are entirely Jewish, and most of its workers are Jews from Austria and Poland.

The novel starts at the beginning of the resort season, early spring. As the novel progresses, the Sanitation Department erects fences, puts out rolls of barbed wire, and erects cement pillars enclosing the hotel and its gardens and thus enclosing the Jews. Although to the reader, the nature of the changes the Sanitation Department makes clearly relate the setting of the story to the Holocaust, the visitors and workers in the hotel blissfully misinterpret what is happening; they see the changes as a sign of the Sanitation Department’s efficiency. They eat, drink, listen to music, and enjoy themselves.

As the seasons progress, the abundance of the spring season gives...

(The entire section is 604 words.)