Eva Panić-Nahir was the name of a woman born in 1918 in Croatian Čakovec and died in a kibbutz in Israel in 2015. She came from a Jewish, bourgeois family, spoke several languages, and began as a 17-year-old and secret relationship with a poor Serbian officer which she, despite the family’s resistance, married just before the outbreak of World War II. During the war, the couple worked for underground communist organizations in Belgrade and saved 1,500 Serbs from being sent to concentration camps. After the end of the war, they were deeply involved in creating the Yugoslavia that Tito wanted to turn into an engaged country until one day in 1951 when Eva’s husband suddenly disappeared without a trace. He had, according to the intelligence service, taken his life and all she needed to do now was sign a (false) assurance that he was an enemy of the people who secretly sided with Stalin, against Tito. If she refused, she would end up on Goli Otok, a notorious prison island in the Adriatic, and the couple’s six-year-old daughter on the street. She had three minutes to make her decision. Would she save her daughter and herself by soiling her dead husband or not? She chose to abandon her daughter.
Eva’s life story has inspired many writers and documentary filmmakers over the years; Among other things, the Yugoslav author Danilo Kiš filmed a documentary about her life, which was shown in 1990. The latest in the line of interpreters is the Israeli author David Grossman, who based his latest novel “With me life plays” based on Eva’s remarkable fate. Grossman, however, offers that important story in a different way. It begins in Israel many years later and stories by Gili – a granddaughter of Eve, in the novel called Vera – and it is the consequences of Vera’s fateful decision that must be at the center.