Abstract

In this autobiographical essay, written in 2018 and previously unpublished, the late György Konrád intertwines his memories as a child during World War II with more theoretical reflections (and unanswered questions) on the war, its repercussions, its lessons. Written in Hungarian not long before his death in 2019, Konrád goes back in this essay to the period following the arrest of his parents after the German invasion of Hungary. Aged eleven, he was able to escape the small town where he was born—and hence the fate of its entire Jewish community. “The others had been turned to ash,” in Konrád's chilling words. Seventy years later, he proceeds from these events to reflect on guilt and contrition, on sympathy and empathetic suffering, on how friends can become enemies during war, as well as on the Jewish heritage underlying Christian culture.

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