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  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787334649
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $36.99
Categories:

Cold Crematorium

Reporting from the Land of Auschwitz




A lost classic of Holocaust literature translated for the first time - from journalist, poet and survivor József Debreczeni

A lost classic of Holocaust literature translated for the first time - from journalist, poet and survivor József Debreczeni

'A literary diamond... A holocaust memoir worthy of Primo Levi' THE TIMES

'A masterpiece' NEW STATESMAN

When József Debreczeni arrived in Auschwitz in 1944, had he been selected to go 'left', his life expectancy would have been approximately forty-five minutes. One of the 'lucky' ones, he was sent to the 'right', which led to twelve horrifying months of incarceration and slave labour in a series of camps, ending in the 'Cold Crematorium' - the so-called hospital of the forced labour camp Dörnhau, where prisoners too weak to work were left to die.

Debreczeni beat the odds and survived. Very soon he committed his experiences to paper in Cold Crematorium, one of the harshest and powerful indictments of Nazism ever written. This haunting memoir, rendered in the precise and unsentimental prose of an accomplished journalist, compels the reader to imagine human beings in circumstances impossible to comprehend intellectually.

First published in Hungarian in 1950, it was never translated due to the rise of McCarthyism, Cold War hostilities and antisemitism. This important eyewitness account that was nearly lost to time will be available in fifteen languages, finally taking its rightful place among the great works of Holocaust literature more than seventy years after it was first published.

  • Published: 16 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787334649
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $36.99
Categories:

About the author

József Debreczeni

József Debreczeni was a Hungarian-language novelist, poet and journalist who spent most of his life in the former Yugoslavia. He was an editor of the Hungarian daily newspaper Ünnep in Budapest, from which he was dismissed due to anti-Jewish legislation. He was later a contributor to the Hungarian media, including the newspaper Napló, in the Yugoslav region of Vojvodina, as well as leading Belgrade newspapers. He was awarded the Híd Prize, the highest distinction in Hungarian literature in the former Yugoslavia.

Praise for Cold Crematorium

An indispensable work of literature and a historical document of unsurpassed importance. It should be required reading

Jonathan Safran Foer, author of EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED

József Debreczeni was a journalist and a poet and he brings the skills of both to this remarkable work. Cold Crematorium will awe you with the acuity of its observations and the precision and beauty of its language. It should be read by everyone wishing to understand the cruelty and barbarism of the Shoah, but also the indomitable spirit of its survivors

Ehud Barak, Former Prime Minister of Israel

An immensely powerful and deeply humane eyewitness account of the horror of the camps. Through vivid descriptions of what he saw and experienced there, Debreczeni confronts the reader with the hell that the Holocaust was; not as something general belonging to history, but as a particular, concrete and devastating reality

Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of MY STRUGGLE

A timely reminder of man's inhumanity to man, especially for the young generation

Jung Chang, author of WILD SWANS

An extraordinary memoir... An unforgettable testimonial to the terror of the Holocaust and the will to endure

Kirkus, *Starred Review*

Whatever I say about this amazing book feels inadequate. Cold Crematorium is a brilliant book, but the word brilliant does not encompass it. It evades words. I have seldom read a book that creates empathy while dealing with the most dehumanized and dehumanizing experience. I wish everyone would read it, especially in this time of sheer inhumanity and baffling complicity

Azar Nafisi, author of READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN

In the timeliest possible way, it succeeds in restoring the Holocaust’s reality... Debreczeni writes with a cinematic clarity, a determination to make detail triumph over mass dehumanisation

Telegraph

A literary diamond – sharp-edged and crystal clear. A haunting chronicle of rare, unsettling power... A holocaust memoir worthy of Primo Levi

The Times

Cold Crematorium offers a cleareyed view of the Nazi death machine with shades of gallows humor, tragedy and anthropological insight

New York Times

Meticulous and intelligent translation... A masterpiece

New Statesman

Extraordinary… Debreczeni brilliantly describes the brutality of this world… Cold Crematorium in an unforgettable evocation of 'the Land of Auschwitz'

Jewish Chronicle

Published in Hungarian in 1950 and won him prizes, but has only now been translated, elegantly and precisely, by Paul Olchváry. What is remarkable is that this vivid, painful memoir has remained so long unknown

Literary Review

As immediate a confrontation of the horrors of the camps as I’ve ever encountered. It’s also a subtle if startling meditation on what it is to attempt to confront those horrors with words… Debreczeni has preserved a panoptic depiction of hell, at once personal, communal and atmospheric

New York Times

Astonishing… Debreczeni captures detail after harrowing detail

Guardian