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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2023

Beyond Anti-Fascist Heroism, Representations of Buchenwald in Hungarian Literature

From the book Buchenwald

  • Ferenc Laczó and Tamás Scheibner


The current paper explores the main Hungarian literary representations of Buchenwald. While the discussion below presents the most relevant historical facts, relates to transnational trends and briefly covers the reception of select texts’ Hungarian translations, it focuses primarily on three major works of literary fiction in the Hungarian language that address experiences of Buchenwald to a significant extent and in a fictionalized way: Pál Királyhegyi’s Mindenki nem halt meg [Not Everyone Has Died], Imre Kertész’s Sorstalanság [Fateless] and László Kroó’s Bölcsőm, koporsóm Buchenwald [Buchenwald: My Cradle, My Coffin]. The paper argues that Királyhegyi’s 1947 work is a fascinating experiment in black comedy, Kroó’s 1981 novel reconsiders anti-fascist certainties and develops a more hesitant and sceptical approach to past heroism within the broad parameters of state socialism, whereas Kertész’s 1975 novel amounts to an innovative attempt to create authentic testimony opposed to any and all forms of memory instrumentalisation.

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