Literary roundup: The Auschwitz Volunteer and Best European Fiction

On January 9, historian Timothy Snyder and director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage David Marwell will meet at the museum in New York to discuss the unbelievable story of Witold Pilecki. Known as the only man to voluntarily go to Auschwitz to be able to provide a first-hand account of the atrocities taking place there, the non-Jewish resistance fighter was able to escape and document what he saw in a book recently translated into English as The Ausch­witz Volunteer. The book is a counterpart to the similarly heroic account of Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski’s Story of a Secret State, also published last year and which I reviewed at Czech Position. Karski had voluntarily entered the Warsaw Ghetto and wrote a harrowing and moving account of what he saw as well as rendering his despair at his inability to get the allies to respond or even believe what he was telling them.

Pilecki not only survived his nearly three years in Auschwitz and other resistance activities but his participation in the Warsaw Uprising. What he couldn’t survive was his arrest, torture and show trial by the Polish communist regime, which executed him in 1948.

For an article in The Jewish Week on the search for Pilecki’s remains click here. For Timothy Snyder’s article in the New York Times on the publication of the book go here.

Best European Fiction in London

Also on January 9, Aleksandar Hemon will be hosting a conversation and reading with three of the writers he selected from the 2013 edition of Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction. Lydia Mischkulnig (Austria), Lasha Bugadze (Georgia) and Kirill Kobrin (Russia) will be at London’s Europe House.

For a cool article by Kirill Kobrin titled “proletarian alahambra” on 3:AM Magazine click here. You can read other stories by Lydia Mischkulnig in the Translation section of her webpage, including a few English translation such “The Company”, and even a Czech translation of a work titled “August Eleven”.

Photo – Witold Pilecki on the stand at his show trial in March 1948/ wikimedia commons.

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