This comment on life regained is all the more poignant for the context – the protagonist survives a Nazi concentration camp only to then find himself living in another species of totalitarian state.

But there is that astonishing moment when he realizes he has survived the first form of hell and that the world order has changed overnight: he enters a communal bathroom in Auschwitz, freezing with fear at the sight of a Nazi guard, only to observe with bewilderment the guard’s fawning demeanour, apparently wiping the basin clean for a Jewish inmate. Up to that moment, he knew of Death as a blue-eyed master from Germany: ‘Der Tod is ein Meister aus Deutschland, sein Auge ist blau’.  

‘The unforgettably sweet and tentative experience of life regained.’


Source: Kaddish for an Unborn Child, Imre Kertész, trans. Tim Wilkinson (New York: Vintage Books / Random House, 2004), p. 57-58

Photo credit: Davide Ragusa at


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