Judith Mok was born in the Netherlands, to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. She trained as a classical singer and travelled the world performing as a soloist, while publishing a novel and poetry collection there. For the last twenty years she has been based in Ireland, where she has become the country’s leading voice coach, working with classical singers and many international pop stars. In recent years she started to write in English, publishing a novel and poetry collection and contributing to publications like the Irish Times.
The State of Dark is a memoir and detective story. Like many children of Holocaust survivors, she was raised with the emotional trauma of having no other family members, while her parents tried to rebuild their lives in postwar Europe. Despite the constant and occasionally intrusive presence of the past – Anne Frank’s father Otto makes an emotional visit to her father to hand over some letters – she had little concrete information about the hundreds of members of her family who died. All the same, the Holocaust and its consequences continued to haunt her life.
At one point in her career she worked with the great German soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. It was only years later that she discovered the full extent of Schwarzkopf ’s collaboration with the Nazi regime. Not only was she a full member of the National Socialist Party, but was also the mistress of Hans Frank, the notorious ‘Butcher of Poland’. Later, Mok would discover that Schwarzkopf had entertained the German troops in Poland at around the same time her family were being murdered there. A chance phone call made from her Dublin home in search of more information unleashes a whole process whereby Mok discovers, in shocking and intimate detail, the terrible fate of her family.
The State of Dark is a highly original, moving and beautifully written memoir of the so-called Second Generation trauma, which documents how the Holocaust continues to be a living issue in European life and culture, including in Ireland.