No Time for Patience

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

No Time for Patience: My Road from Kaunas to Jerusalem: A Memoir of a Holocaust Survivor is an eloquent English translation by Michele and Dan Sagir of Zev Birger’s autobiography which was published in German in 1997 under the title Keine Zeit fur Geduld. Zev Birger is the only survivor of a Lithuanian Jewish family. In his preface to this autobiography, the former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres praises Zev Birger’s years of service to Israel and above all his ability to maintain an optimistic view of life despite extreme suffering.

It took Zev Birger over fifty years to decide to write his memoirs. For years it was too painful for him to describe the intense grief which he had experienced after the extermination of his entire family in Nazi concentration camps. He finally persuaded himself that he needed to write his autobiography so that his children and grandchildren could understand the magnitude of the sacrifices endured by Holocaust victims and survivors.

Birger described his enjoyable childhood in a Jewish ghetto in Lithuania, his incredible suffering in a death camp near Dachau, his fortunate survival, and his role in founding the state of Israel. He is exceedingly modest in describing his years of service in the Israeli Customs Department and Ministry of Industry and his more than fifteen years of work as the director of the Jerusalem Book Fair. The glowing praise by Shimon Peres strongly suggests that Birger played an important role in describing to ordinary Israelis the moral values which Holocaust survivors wanted to convey to their fellow citizens born after the horrors of the Nazi death camps.

This moving autobiography is an eloquent evocation of his ability to maintain optimism in the face of incredible suffering.