On the X-Men

Magneto the Jew

By Marie-Catherine Caillava

Magneto’s being a Jew is of paramount importance. It defines the very relationship between reality and fiction.

At least, it does to me.

Let me share with you a very personal story, that of my love affair with Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and of how he made me become a writer.

I grew up your standard European little girl, except for the fact that I was told stories about Jews (translate: very nice people) hiding in Grandpa’s cellar, and of “nazees” (meaning: horrible monsters) finding them one night after the baby cried at the wrong moment and taking them away, never to be seen again. I would hide my teddy bears before falling asleep, out of fear that the same “nazees” would find them and do awful things to them. Being six years old, I was not too sure what those “awful things” would be. I remember that, after much painful pondering, I had decided that the most atrocious thing one could do to a teddy would be to tear its stuffing out while laughing sadistically, like the villains did in comics. Every morning my bears and I were so joyful—just like the heroes who prevailed on the last page of every single book I owned—because the “nazees” had not found us while we slept. Then, when I was eleven years old, I saw an elementary-school-level documentary about Auschwitz. I was sick and had nightmares for a whole week. Surprisingly, it was not the sight of the piles of corpses or the expression in  …

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