Sam Apple’s fascination about the story of Hans Breuer emanates from the fact that the author is fascinated with history and politics. The history of the Jews in Europe and their scattering into other counties across the world has always triggered a great interest for writers and historians.
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Apple is one of the writers, who have always felt an urge to write about the Jewish history. In addition, the interest and fascination of the Jewish history is trigged by Hans Breuer. Breuer gives an interesting account of the Jewish history in New York (Apple, 2009). More interesting, is that Breuer narrated the Jewish history through a Yiddish narrative of songs.
The style, through which Breuer accounts the historical events, is fascinating to the writer. Another interesting twist is that Breuer is an Austrian shepherd. Considering that shepherds are usually confined in rural set-ups, Breuer sings Yiddish ditties to his flock of sheep (Apple, 2009). The writer acknowledged that Breuer historical narratives are done in a more bizarre nature. For example, the writer implies that Breuer carries his sheep through the Alps Mountains.
The Jewish people are known to be shepherds by their traditions. An insight into the Jewish culture indicates that shepherds wander along mountains to seek greener pastures for their flocks. In this case, the writer views Breuer as the last wandering shepherd (Apple, 2009). Nonetheless, the real activities by Breuer only exist to the writer as mere imagination. In this respect, the writer is more interested to oversee these activities in person, and so travels from the United States to Austria to meet Breuer.
Moreover, Breuer seems to be an interesting representative of the Jewish history. The man lives in Austria and actually grew in Vienna, unlike other traditional Jews. He has been in Europe in his entire life and actually is born of a Jewish father and a gentile mother. The author seems to be an anti-Semites sympathizer and his follow-up on this philosophy is fascinating, especially when it is told by a shepherd in Austria (Apple, 2009). In fact, the more outrageous the ant-Semites grew in Austria, the more the author gets fascinated.
The author’s concern of the Jewish past implies the idea that he might actually be Jewish by origin. However, the author lives in the United States, and so his nationality is American. This becomes more factual, when the author becomes fascinated when he learns that people in Austria are more anti-Semites.
He is encouraged by the enlightenment that the Austrians, especially the Jews are getting from Bauer. In fact, at one point the author wants his interviewees to express their ant-Semitic ideologies. This prompts the author to get even closer to an Austrian girl, with a quest that he will fall in love with a Jewish woman (Apple, 2009).
The author’s desire to be enlightened and learn the Jewish past is an aspect of his guilt complex, of a descendant trying to trace his origin. On the other hand, the author is not socially and culturally accustomed to the Jewish cultures. This can be edified by the fact that he is a journalist in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world; New York.
Breuer on the other hand, is a Jew with an Austrian nationality. This can be edified by the fat that he uses Yiddish language in his songs. His immediate social context reveals that he is living amongst other Jews in Austria. His quest to enlighten other Jews across Europe is an indication that he is closely associated with the Jews. Breuer cultural practices as a wandering shepherd are a mere indication that he is still accustomed to Jewish cultures. Interestingly, the social set-up in Austria supports such practices.
The single aspect that brings both the author and Breuer together is that they are Jewish. Moreover, they are entangled together in their quest for their Jewish identity and the enlightenment of the Jewish community across Europe.
It is important to understand that the development of the Yiddish language emanated from a fusion of German dialects with that of the Hebrews and Aramaic dialects.
Of course, Hebrew is Jewish in origin. Breuer lived in the era of the holocaust and this can be attested by his biography as indicated by the author. In fact, Bauer father was part of the rebellion against Nazism in Austria. The only way the Jews in Austria could communicate with the Jews in German and other European countries dominated by the Nazis, was through the Yiddish language.
In this manner, the Yiddish language was primarily musical wordings that symbolized the victimization of the Jews by the Germans. From this context, an uprising against the Nazis in German and in Austria was communicated through the Yiddish music. In this respect, the use of the Yiddish language by Breuer is an indication that the enlightenment of the Jews in Austria could only be understood well in the context of the Yiddish songs. The author uses the Yiddish language in the context t of the ant-Semitics in Austria.
Apple, S. (2009). Schlepping through the Alps: My search for Austria’s Jewish past with its last wandering shepherd. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group.