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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fatelessness (1975) by Imre Kertesz

Image result for buchenwald
Buchenwald, the largest concentration camp established inside Germany, was different from Auschwitz, which was an extermination camp.
Book Review
Fatelessness (1975)
by Imre Kertesz

  Imre Keretsz was a Hungarian-Jewish author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002.  Fatelessness is his Holocaust memoir, and truly if it could ever be said that there is a book that shows the "lighter" side of the Holocaust experience, it is Fatelessness.   Kertesz was 14, working in a munitions factory in occupied Hungary when he was pulled off a bus along with every other Jew on the bus, and unceremoniously sent to Auschwitz to be sorted.  The consequences of sorting were drastic, with those deemed unfit sent to the gas chamber and crematorium.

   Kertesz captures the confusion of the victims well.   He believed that he was simply being taken to another job site and it isn't until that he is actually given a prisoner's outfit that he realizes what is happening to him.   "Fortunately" Kertesz was sent to Buchenwald, a true concentration camp, vs.  Auschwitz,  which was an extermination camp.  After hisarrival he suffers an injury and receives decent medical care from the mostly French medical staff, and is promptly liberated by American soldiers.

  Overall,  Kertesz seems bemused rather than horrified by the whole experience.  Some of this is no doubt attributed to his dry wit, but he does show that even in the middle of the darkest experience humanity can contemplate, there were many moments that allowed humans to be decent to one another on a personal level.

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