Excerpt from The Hare With Amber Eyes

Edmund De Waal

The problem is that I am in the wrong century to burn things.  I am the wrong generation to let it go.  I think of a library carefully sorted into boxes.  I think of all those careful burnings by others, the systematic erasing of stories, the separations between people and their possessions, and then of people from their families and families from their neighbourhoods.  And then from their country.

I think of someone checking a list to make sure that these people were still alive and resident in Vienna, before stamping ‘Sara’ or ‘Israel’ in red over the record of their birth.  I think, of course, of all the listings of families in the manifests, for deportations.

If others can be so careful over things that are so important, then I must be careful over these objects and their stories.  I must get it right, go back and check it again, walk it again.


Edmund de Waal OBE is an award winning ceramic artist and writer. Excerpt is taken from 'The Hare With Amber Eyes', Chatto & Windus, 2010, p348


While government watches you, who watches the government?