Shocked and clear voice of the Holocaust Boris Pahor dies at 108

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Slovenian writer left in the ‘necropolis’, one of the essential narratives to understand the incomprehensible

Boris Pahor in 2009.
Boris Pahor in 2009.giuseppe cakesAFP
  • history Two extermination camps survived next to the car of the dead

“I read Spinoza daily and it relaxes me. Spinoza says that God and nature are equal. He says that human intelligence will be united with the same force that makes trees grow and everything else. I am Pentesta.” ” boris pahor He was furious about his death on a summer day in Palma de Mallorca in 2016. He then pretended his 102 years in front of a boiling vegetable puree that he then compensated for with an ice cream. “First you need to warm your stomach. And then cool it down,” he says with a provocatively childish smile, who knows what, while offering up the secret to his longevity for free.

The reason for his visit to Spain was a documentary film about his life that the Atlantis Festival was showing with both pride and awe. He has to spend six more years with more than 2,000 days to make the Slovenian writer’s spinocist dream come true. On Monday the author ofgraveyard‘ (Anagram) and eternal candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature at 108. His book, considered one of the great testimonies of the Holocaust, describes Hell with “sharp and cold precision”, as Claudio Magaris describes. What burns and what freezes.

Pahor said that Dostoevsky became a writer. “To those humiliated and hurt. I have always seen myself as a documentary on what I have experienced,” he remarked. It was said by a man who long ago pulled up his little body Five concentration camps: Struthof-Natzweiler, Dachau’s, Dora’s, Bergen-Belsen’s, and finally, Buchenwald’s, in the Vosges, where they were released. “Unlike the Jews, we were convicted political prisoners,” he remarked. His experience is there, only in the first person in that huge cantata that was written by either Primo Levi or Imre Kurtz. It is a text that is turned upside down on paper without breathing. There are no full stops. Everything moves in an uninterrupted stream of icy and burning memory. Precise and destructive. never pathetic.

He told in that interview that in spite of everything, living in Europe he suffered as condemnation and as the only possible salvation, the most humiliating episode of his life not in a concentration camp but long ago, Happened in his childhood. , “I’ve seen a thousand atrocities, but what always travels with me is something that’s engraved in my spine. I remember that, after doing four years of school in Slovenian, the fifth told me to do it in Italian. Was forced.” The teacher asked us for an essay in which we had to describe a shipwreck. I didn’t know how to do it in a language I don’t speak. I asked my father for help. The teacher asked me to read the paper. loudly. And he did it to laugh at my humiliation in front of all my teammates. I experienced it as an insult to both myself and my father.”

The speaker was now a citizen who had always been from Trieste, the second heart of Europe, and one of the greatest strongholds of Slovenian language and culture. He lamented that his books were translated into Italian only 20 years after their publication. He mourned this and recalled the moment Mussolini’s troops burned down the Slovenian House of Culture in his city. Because before the horrors of concentration camps, Pahor also went through the atrocities of fascism. “I think we don’t have a complete picture of what Nazism and Fascism really were. Neither in school nor in history books do I find anything more than generalities. Today’s Europe is dirty, a society that is unable to face its sins. If we had learned from the past, what would have happened to the refugees would not have happened. What is happening is an insult to all of us fighting Nazism in Europe.”

Boris Pahor was always plagued with guilt. That and that awareness that, despite trying to explain everything, he barely managed to explain anything. How to describe the indescribable? How to understand forever incomprehensible? How to imagine the imaginable? He said learning the language saved him. He interviewed in Italian what humiliated him so much as a child and the documentary was in French. His native language is Slovenian, but he speaks German and English with the same clarity that he defines himself as European above all. He was first an anti-fascist and later an anti-communist fighter.

“I refuse to be pessimistic. Despite everything, I think that if we are able to invent something as miraculous as a mobile phone, we need to create the conditions for a sensible dialogue to put an end to that desire.” Should be able to. Domination that provokes so much disaster. I don’t believe we can hold a universal summit for climate change and we can’t do that for peace”, he said six years ago. He called it from his pantheist, spinoist and Europeanist belief. He said it in front of a plate of boiling mash. Later with ice cream. What burns and what freezes.

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