The Inventory

Written by Gila Lustiger Rebecca Morrison (trans.)
Review by Jesse Dubuc

Less a unified story than a collection of glimpses into the lives of Germans and Jews before and during WWII, The Inventory deals with the insidious, creeping nature of Nazi propaganda and how its ideals affect ordinary people. All too often when we look back on history, we forget that each face in the crowd has its own story, and that each of those stories touches myriad others. It is this unity which Nazi politics would seek to — and ultimately would — destroy forever.

Lustiger’s style clearly illustrates these ideals and the almost schizophrenic status quo they created among the populace. In her depiction of the rapid social shift of old social ideals to Hitler’s new order, she effectively captures the confusion and fear of the moment, painting an uncertain future, even when we are able to look back through history and know the outcome.

Rather than confining her focus to one specific group, the author shifts between all strata of society, from the rich and privileged to the destitute and desperate, and from the indifferent and oblivious to the fearful and hunted. Clearly illustrating the dense social layering and the separate norms of behavior and thinking associated with each, this work directly and piercingly challenges preconceived notions of social privilege and their rude introduction to the ‘real world’. An excellent reminder of the power that politics may wield.