“His life and his work are a testament to the human spirit”
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“His life and his work are a testament to the human spirit”

Imre Kertész, survivor of the Holocaust and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002, has passed away in Budapest. He was 86 year old.

In a message of condolence yesterday morning (31 March), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said:

“Kertész lived through the darkest years in Europe’s history. He was only a teenager when he was sent to Auschwitz with thousands of Hungarian Jews, and saw for himself the depths of human depravity. He survived and then found the courage to write about his experience.”

“Kertész received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002. With great modesty, he remarked that he had written for himself, and did not have an audience. Today, we owe him a great debt, and are thankful that his work was published. Imre Kertész will always have an audience.”

Swedish author Erik Löfvendahl wrote yesterday in Svenska Dagbladet (31 March) about his literary heritage. “In his novels and diaries Nobel Prize laureate Imre Kertész witnessed about the night black absurdity of the Holocaust and Totalitarianism. As Hungarian he experienced both Nazism and Communism but he was also appalled at today’s growing nationalism.”

HIs first novel which would make him world famous was “Fatelessness” from 1975. A young boy tells about the deportation to the concentration camp. “The book is a story about how a human being is broken down step by step.”

For Kertész, Auschwitz was not something limited, an exception. “Auschwitz was a logical consequence of the development in European society of that time, based on an authoritarian, militaristic, patriarchal system.”

In his Nobel lecture Imre Kertész said that he chose to remain in Hungary after the crushing of the uprising in 1956 because of language reasons: “This time I could observe, not as a child but as an adult, how a dictatorship functions.”

Löfvendahl concludes that Imre Kertész “undoubtly belonged to the strongest and most important central European voices of our time.”

The Brussels Times