»David, My David« is a volume rife with quotable sentences and phrases.

Here is a limited selection.
Citation of individual quotes is allowed only with proper, complete attribution.
For context, read the book!


  • I [have] always been blessed by the company of strong women. [1995: p. 1, p. 359]

  • Colors, colors! Eyes, hair! Names, noses! Grandparents and the Nuremberg Laws!
    The bone-breaking ache! Death and undying yearning! [1995: p. 4]

  • Who’d want to rope a stinky ole goat? [1926: p. 21]

  • “Frühes Leſen—lebenslange Erforungen!” [Early reading—a life of discoveries] [1926: p. 27]

  • “You many disapprove, dislike, admonish, find fault, or reprove, Edi, but do not hate. Hatred is for the weak, the shallow, the ignorant: for the fool!” [1926: p. 27-8]

  • “How perfect must those scales be, on which one can truly measure the worth of a brother.” [1928: p. 62]

  • No child, no one, should ever have to cry out to be rescued! [1928: p. 83]

  • I looked up into [Gramma’s] warm, Hessian grandmother smile as she repeated with pride one of her well-worn sayings, one from an ancient she called Euripides: “Far better is it for us mortals to find a poor and upright friend, than one in whom evil is married to wealth!” [1932: p. 102]

  • “Three years ago, my father saved a boy from drowning. He told me that the one thing that gives meaning to life is service to others, even if at times it means you may endanger your own!” [1933: p. 112]

  • No one succeeds by disdain, by disunion, by hatred. No one! [1935: p. 114]

  • Within the beauty of [Francisco Garcia Lorca’s] language, his Iberian lyricism, he expressed an inner longing that I could hear, but was still uncertain of. He had been killed by Franco’s fascists the year before because of those very sounds—shot by those terrified of a free voice. [1937: p. 118]

  • We had no way of knowing the true extent of the pogrom, nor how bad it had become. “Es hat die Dunkelheit an vielen Orten überhand genommen…” [In many places, darkness has taken over utterly…] sprang sorrowfully to mind. Who would not now mouth a needful prayer, “Bleib’ bei uns, denn es will Abend werden!” [Abide with us: for it becomes eventide!] [Kristallnacht (1938): p. 122]

  • “You will never fully understand how much they mean to you, until you lose one that you love.” [Kristallnacht (1938): p. 123]

  • Tyranny loves money; money adores tyranny.
    Every society will learn this to their great cost, sooner or later or, as in our own, German case, too late. [1938: p. 126]

  • The Spanish Republic was falling quickly to Franco’s Nazi-aided, Fascist-emboldened, conservative rebellion. [1938: p. 126]

  • “Why do they hate us?” he asked, an almost silent plea. [1940: p. 154]

  • “I almost lost you!” [1940: p. 155]

  • He had handed me his life.
    And I had become his keeper. [1940: p. 155]

  • I would strive to be a better, inseparable Jonathan to this David! [1940: p. 158]

  • Those leaders were unquestionably insane. You cannot be a “master race” if you do not master yourself first. But having mastered yourself, you can only realize, in humility, that there is no such thing as mastery of others and, more deeply, that there is truly no such thing as race. [1942: p. 161]

  • “The Russian government seems always to have excelled at doing the most stupid, oppressive things just to run off their most talented!” [1943: p. 165-6]

  • “The Greeks keep forgetting Harmodios and Aristogeiton!
    “It is intelligence, devotion to each other and fearless action against tyranny that will free us and lead us forward!” [1944: p. 191]

  • National Socialism! Bah! Socialism does not invade other nations! Socialism does not kill innocent people! Fascism, communism and blind capitalist greed kill people: steal their food, their lands, their freedom!” [1944: p. 192]

  • With a plaintive, almost whispered “την Ελλάδα χωρίς, δεν υπάρχ’ η ζωή” [without Greece, there is no Life], further revelations evaporated. [1944: p. 192]

  • But not this world. [1944: p. 200]

  • “My vibrant past! My intimate present!
    “Every moment of my future, now damned! vacant! empty!
    “Nothing!” [1944: p. 219]

  • “No one understands concussion: a brain afire, accursed within its unique, unseeable calamity! No one!” [1944: p. 221]

  • The metronome-clock on the mantel contrived the sweep of time. [1944: p. 224]

  • “Dictatorship is a disease lying dormant within every democracy.” [1944: p. 230]

  • Tyrants, and the mob, feast on obedience perverted into subservience. [1944: p. 231]

  • “Weiche man von der Freiheitsbahn ab, folgt die Strafe danach, wenn auch noch so spät!” [If one stray from freedom’s path, punishment will follow, even if it is so very late!] [1944: p. 231]

  • “Humans forget things far too easily, too willingly, and the more terrible those things are, the faster they forget!” [1944: p. 231]

  • A child’s voice whispered, floating soft, from afar: “ ’Od lo ’avdah tiqvatenu...” [{Hebrew:} Our hope is not yet lost...] [1944: p. 233]

  • “Paperwork?” the private asked.
    Reinhold laughed, “This is Germany, son! There’s always paperwork!” [1944: p. 241]

  • Sadly, in modern war, it isn’t only rain that falls on the just and unjust alike. [1944: p. 244]

  • Hatred is the laziest form of cowardice. [1944: p. 246]

  • “It is far better to love, braving any chance of being wronged, than to hate, and with it, to be eternally wrong.” [1944: p. 247]

  • “This, my responsibility to the people, the entire people, to humanity, should always have overridden any diseased oath to the puppet master.” [1944: p. 249]

  • What bargain had I made whose price had required so great a premium? [1944: p. 252]

  • Always had [Gramma] been right, and her strength, her righteous, liberal indignation ever squarely on target! [1944: p. 258]

  • Romantic image, he smirked to himself, sweaty britches! [1945: p. 271]

  • “I am a witness, Colonel—no longer a victim!—but an active witness of the atrocities. At least a million Jews have been killed in southwestern Poland, within the Auschwitz camp-complex alone. At the height of operations, there were six large murder-camps operating just within the old borders of Poland. There were more in Germany, Bohemia, the Netherlands, some still operating right now! An SS officer admitted to me this past September that the total number of ghettoes, concentration camps and death camps set up by our Nazi government throughout enslaved Europe has exceeded 40,000.

    “For a nation of fewer than 70 million, that’s one interment facility for every 1600 of its own people—a torture camp for every village! Does that by itself not indict the German nation and the very government they themselves … we ourselves … allowed to take control?” [1945: p. 280]

  • “The righteous will never forget nor, righteously, let it ever be forgotten!” [1945: p. 280]

  • Great loss compels dread anew of every approaching, attending loss. [1945: p. 283]

  • Startled, confused, uncertain, I found myself at home, within the Taunus-farm­house and no longer standing afar, beside the cliff-bound Rhine, watching there with unashamed cathexis that good, that beloved flag, ancient Frankfurt’s liberal-revolution, Germania’s tricolor waving: enrobing a new-rising phoenix-nation.

    Our agony was at an end.
    Hagen was dead.
    Brünnhilde had wrought her revenge. [1945: p. 285]

  • Germany united by militarism had been a threefold failure: Bismarck, Kaiser, Hitler. [1950: p. 307]

  • We had to rekindle that fabled Kerngesundheit, that healthy core, and if it could not be restarted, to rip out those roots, to plant it and nourish it anew. Only when the highest praise other nations might aspire to should be, “Wir genießen deutsche Freiheit!” [We enjoy German Freedom!] would we know that this had been fulfilled! [1950: p. 307]

  • It was, once again, the guiding, nurturing hand of the unsummoned angel. [1965: p. 311]

  • “[The other musicians] couldn’t get out of finals!” he had explained, “but I still wanted to do Handel because he’s so cheerful!” He laughed, and in a co-conspiratorial, breathy whisper added emphatically, “And gay!—Hallelujah![1978: p. 316]

  • Mockingbirds sing the passing stars; doves serenade the rising sun! [1978: p. 319] (of the Texas doving hour)

  • LJ turned out to be one of the best friends I would ever make: steadfast, always true. A U.S. Marine—never ‘ex’, never ‘former’—he understood very well what it was to put your life on the line for your friends, for others. [1978: p. 324]

  • “Just remember: music must come from within, from life!
    “If it isn’t soul music, it isn’t music!” [1980: p. 327]

  • “Aleatoric crap: anyone can piss random notes!” [1980: p. 328]

  • “Keep in mind, too, what your dad has always told you: ‘Get off your ass and get busy—Texans don’t mope, they move!’ And David, I’d add that if you don’t know into which direction to move, just stand up and dance! It will come to you!” [1980: p. 328]

  • This was America—the “land of the free”—where the brave were forced to fight the superstitious, the bullies, the cowards. [1989: p. 336]

  • “Scott was Jewish, Jim’s family, Armenian. With another friend, Steve, that’s two Jews and an Armenian—the first of my own friends—that I’ve lost! I never thought I would come so close to the personal pain of those two holocausts. It’s as if the twentieth century had walked up and punched me in the heart!” [1989: p. 337]

  • “...the moment any religion does not lead by persuasion, by conviction, by life-empowering, free example, but must turn to government, police and violence to prosecute closed observance of their literalist law-codes, that religion has already failed!
    “Any religion that must turn to government for enforcement is already dead.” [1989: p. 339]

  • “When you are loved, you share that love in common; but when you are hated, you bear that hatred yourself. Love shines on each and all: the shadow of hatred sticks to each of us, alone. You have to be strong, prepare yourself, steel your soul: let its glow dispel the shading gloom.” [1989: p. 347]

  • “[Yiddish] is the voice of the six million, the mother-tongue voice of my boarding-house friends, of dear little Sophia, of my own David!
    “I cannot bear to see it perish, as I was forced to watch him die!
    “So long as Yiddish survives, their voice is not stilled; their spirit, never con­quered; their lives, ever treasured!” [1989: p. 347]

  • Death, inflicted actively or through spiteful neglect, seemed still to be the only way such oppressives—such sociopaths, such veneropaths—could ever deal with others. [1994: p. 354]