Charles Bernstein

Åke Hodell, Orderbuch and CA36715(J), with a commentary by Martin Glaz Serup

EPC Digital Library

Åke Hodell, Orderbuch (Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1965): pdf
Åke Hodell, CA36715(J) (Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1966).: pdf 
Published by EPC Digital Library.

In 1965 the Swedish writer and former fighter pilot Åke Hodell (1919-2000) published the unsettling pseudo-documentary Orderbuch and the year after the complementary CA 36715 (J). Both books relate to the Nazi death camps. The "order book" consists of long rows of numbers, prisoner numbers, followed by a J in parenthesis, a J as in Jude - Jew. Under the prisoner number is a single word that describe what the prisoner can be used for – Seife, Lampenschirm, Grundausfüllung, Unbrauchbar[1] etc. Some of the numbers, and still more the further we get into the book, are crossed out. The last number in Orderbuch that is not crossed out is CA 36715 (J). In the book of the same title from the following year the angle has changed – from reading the registrant of a KZ [konzentrationslager]-bureaucrat we now follow the diary of a KZ-prisoner; for every page we read we get closer to extinction. Or read or read – the book is written by hand and the handwriting is unreadable. “It is the handwriting itself that tells the story,” the Danish literary critic Hans-Jørgen Nielsen writes in an essay on Hodell, “A diary like that of Anne Frank, but perhaps even more chilling. The slow disintegration of a human being."[2] The handwriting is changing from page to page, getting more confused, dissolving into lakes of ink. As were it a metaphor for something. Here is more on Hodell's use of pseudo-documentary.