Polish Jewish author Zalmen Gradowski’s Auschwitz fragments, regarded as one of the most authentic documents of the Holocaust, have been first published in Hungarian to mark this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27th of January).
Zalmen Gradowski was a prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland from 1942 and worked for 16 months in the Sonderkommando slave labour unit in the gas chambers and the crematoria until his death in October 1944. He wrote a secret diary to describe his life in the death camp and buried it in a time capsule. The document was found among the ashes of the perished in March 1945, after the liberation of the camp. “Gradowski knew exactly that he would die. It became the purpose of his life to record what he had seen and hide it. He is supposed to have written more but only two fragments survived,” János Kőbányai, director of the publisher Múlt és Jövő, told news agency MTI.
The fragments were first published in Hebrew in 2012. The Hungarian translation made by Zsombor Hunyadi, a young PhD student of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, is based on the original Yiddish text.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January) was also marked in Hungary with a commemoration event at the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest’s Páva street. The commemoration was attended by Yosef Amrani, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, as well as leaders of the Jewish community and representatives of the government.
In his speech, Hungary’s state secretary for education László Palkovics said that the “eternal lesson” of the Holocaust is that “prejudice must be combatted day after day” so that the next generations are free of misconceptions. “The goal is that young people should think differently from perpetrators of those acts,” Palkovics said. “The Holocaust is part of our national history, which it is our moral obligation to face up to”, he said, stressing that “in addition to commemorating the innocent victims it is also our duty to ensure that similar tragedies can never occur again”.
Israeli Ambassador Yosef Amrani spoke about the fact that the Holocaust was not just the tragedy of the Jewish people, but “an age in which civilization failed, in which cultural values dwindles to nothing”, and the six million dead are not simply a number, but the victims of the fist experiment in history aimed at eradicating a whole people from the pace of the earth. “We cannot allow this to be repeated”, the Ambassador said, stressing that one of the differences between that age and the current situation is that thanks to Israel “we now have a home and a state, and will never again be unprotected”.
András Heisler, head of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) pointed out that in a few years’ time the eye witnesses of the Holocaust will no longer be with us, and this will mark “the beginning of the future of the history of Auschwitz”. Heisler said that “we must create the foundations for the future of a Hungarian Jewish life in Hungary that is lively and diverse, and which takes stock of the Holocaust”. “We want to work and develop in a sober and hopeful Hungary that not only tolerates diversity, but celebrates it”, he said.
via hungarymatters.hu, MTI and kormany.hu; cover photo: Zsolt Szigetváry – MTI