Novels and eyewitness accountsAdditional information


Literature on the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp can be found here.

Bruno Apitz
Naked Among Wolves

East Berlin, Seven Seas, 1960. – 398pp.

This is an account of the Communist-led resistance of the International Camp Committee in Buchenwald as reflected in the story of a child's rescue. The novel – which was translated into more than thirty languages – determined the historical image of Buchenwald Concentration Camp in the German Democratic Republic and was understood primarily as factual documentation rather than as fiction.

David A. Hackett (ed.)
The Buchenwald Report.
Report on Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar

Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995. – 397pp. Ill.

Before leaving the liberated camp, some 120 inmates produced reports on nearly all of the aspects of life and death in the concentration camp. Originally written for the Allied forces' European headquarters, the collection of reports is regarded today as a "key document" on the history of the concentration camps.

Thomas Geve
Youth in Chains

Konstanz: Südverlag, 1993. - 255 pp.: Ill.

At the age of thirteen, Thomas Geve of Berlin was deported to Auschwitz. In “Youth in Chains”, which was published in Jerusalem in 1958, he writes about his experiences as a child in Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Buchenwald camps. The account can be read together with the drawings which Geve made in Buchenwald, which have also been published. (See also section on memorial publications.)

Imre Kertész

Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1992. – 191pp.

In his novel on his deportation to the Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz camps, Kertész supplies his protagonist only with the limited knowledge he would have had at the time. He experiences the realm of death with an astonished gaze and unaffected naivety. Only gradually does his amazement give way to knowledge and dismay.

Erich Maria Remarque
Spark of Life

New York: Fawcett Books, 1998. – 365pp.

The great novelist chooses the fictional concentration camp of Mellern as the setting for his story. Only a "spark of life" separates the starving inmates from death. For Remarque, who wrote the novel in the early 1950s, it is a personal confrontation with his attachment to his native country and the Nazi state's destruction of all romantic memories of the past.

Jorge Semprún
The Long Voyage

New York: Penguin USA, 1997. – 244pp.

In this account, a five-day journey in a railroad car – standing, and without food or nourishment – serves as the occasion for Jorge Semprún's reflections on Spanish Civil War, the Fench Resistance, and his own liberation and return to France. The novel brought Jorge Semprún world renown.

Jorge Semprún
What a Beautiful Sunday!

New York: Harcourt, 1984. – 429pp.

Over fifteen years after his "long voyage," Jorge Semprún once again retraces his memories of Buchenwald. He engages in a reflection on his own identity, describing himself as a "renegat," engaged in a passionate but often bitterly ironic confrontation with Communism.

Jorge Semprún
Literature or Life

New York: Penguin USA, 1998. – 320pp.

In a sequel to his "long voyage" and "Sunday," Jorge Semprún continues his reflections on "his" German past. For Semprún, former Spanish Minister of Culture and recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the experience of Buchenwald remains the "primal scene from which everything else emerges." The account aims to recapture this experience not as an attempt at forgiveness, but rather as an attempt to comprehend what humans are capable of.

Jorge Semprún, Elie Wiesel
Schweigen ist unmöglich

Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1997. - 54 pp.

Two survivors of Buchenwald, the one a world-famous author, the other a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, meet in 1995 to discuss their differing experiences. Their discussion is premised on the realisation that the reality of horror is impossible to express in words, even as they confront the reality that silence is impossible.

Fred Wander
The Seventh Well

East Berlin: Seven Seas, 1976. – 146pp

Told in the first person, the story focuses on the Little Camp of Buchenwald – a sphere where Apitz's gaze did not penetrate. At the same time it is an account of the art of story-telling that which conveys a rich picture of Jewish tradition while refusing to depict events within an accepted narrative structure.