REVIEW by Harriet Robbins

Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian writer who survived Auschwitz as a young man, visited the camp often in his later years and wrote about his survival throughout his lifetime. He was cited by the Swedish Academy for "writing that upholds the fragile experience of the invididual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history. For him, Auschwitz is not an exceptional occurence that like an alien body subsists outside normal history of Western Europe. It is the ultimate truth about human degradation in modern existence."

The Nobel prize of one million dollars will no doubt help move Kertesz out of the shadows and into the limelight of fame.

Kertesz, who was born in Budapest and is of Jewish descent, was sent to Auschwitz while in his teens. He was freed in 1945. Two of his books have been published (in English) by Northwestern University Press. The company plans to reissue these books--FAITHLESS and KADDISH FOR A CHILD NOT BORN--in the coming months.

I found both books extremely moving. Despite his horrendous experiences, he managed to survive not only by his own will but with the help of his fellow prisoners. The nature of mankind is fully reviealed. Yes, the spirit of good is in man, revealed when you least expect it. That spirit must be acknowledged as in these troubled times we need to know that all is not hopeless, that the spark of goodness will ignite and bring a better understanding in the future.

There have been many films about the Holocaust, but this season the one that stands out is THE PIANIST. Directed by Roman Polanski, the Focus Feature won the Palme D'Or at Cannes and is now vying for the Academy Award and other critical prizes. Polanski at age 7 escaped from the Krakow ghetto and its Nazi overseeers. He has fashioned a tale of survival combining the themes that reflect his own personal experience with those of another Warsasw ghetto survivor, Wladylslaw Szpilman, a prominent musician. Szpilman's musical gifts and his inner strength and cunning helped him to make it through the entire Warsaw Ghetto experience. His journal of those war years has been adapted by Polanski and turned into a powerful film. Szpilman continued to compose and perform after the war.

These stories must be told and retold so that one will never forget the tragedies of the past. With the work of such master craftsmen as Polanski and Kertesz, the true spirit of man is revealed, with his capacity for both good and evil. The lessons learned from these works can help us as we head into an uncertain future.