This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
Translating a Holocaust memoir into Chinese poses a real challenge when the Chinese character for “Hitler” is the same as the one for “Schindler.”
“I insisted they find two different characters to use,” said translator Vicky Wu of her correction of a change made by Xue Yuan, the Beijing publisher of the new Chinese translation of “The Choice: Poland, 1939-1945” by Irene Eber. “I explained that you can’t use the same name for the person who killed the Jews as for one who saved them.”
Wu, who lives in Tel Aviv and manages the Chinese office of an Israeli diamond-selling company, would have wanted in any case to make sure that the publisher did not make any such mistakes. But, with this particular book, the stakes were even higher: Its author, 83-year-old Holocaust survivor Eber, is a Hebrew University professor emeritus of Chinese history and philosophy and can, therefore, actually read and critique the Chinese edition.
Fittingly, “The Choice,” originally published in English by Schocken Books in 2004, is one of the first Holocaust memoirs to be translated into Chinese. As of this past January, it has joined a small number of works like “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Escape from Auschwitz” on the shelves of China’s bookstores.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.
Tags: Chinese translations, David K. Shipler, Ephraim Kaye, Germany, Halle, Harold Isaacs, Hebrew University, Holocaust, Holocaust memoirs, Irene Eber, Lublin, Mielec, Poland, The Choice, Vicky Wu, Yad VaShem