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Nine Suitcases: A Memoir

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Suppressed by the Communists for nearly forty years and never before published in English, Nine Suitcases is one of the first—and greatest—memoirs of the Holocaust ever written. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the harrowing story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives not Suppressed by the Communists for nearly forty years and never before published in English, Nine Suitcases is one of the first—and greatest—memoirs of the Holocaust ever written. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the harrowing story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives not only a rare insight into Hungarian fascism, but also a shocking exposure to the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings—the victims no less than the perpetrators—are capable in extreme circumstances. Apart from being one of the earliest writers on the Holocaust, Zsolt is also one of the most powerful. He bears comparison with Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, or Imre Kertész. Both an accomplished novelist and a highly skilled journalist, he was reporting and analyzing these appalling events soon after they occurred with exceptional clarity and a devastating blend of angry despair and cool detachment. Zsolt was spared Auschwitz, but he witnessed and suffered some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust elsewhere; his nightmarish but meticulously realistic chronicle of smaller and larger crimes against humanity is as riveting as it is horrifying. The rediscovery and publication of Nine Suitcases is an event of great historical importance.


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Suppressed by the Communists for nearly forty years and never before published in English, Nine Suitcases is one of the first—and greatest—memoirs of the Holocaust ever written. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the harrowing story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives not Suppressed by the Communists for nearly forty years and never before published in English, Nine Suitcases is one of the first—and greatest—memoirs of the Holocaust ever written. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the harrowing story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives not only a rare insight into Hungarian fascism, but also a shocking exposure to the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings—the victims no less than the perpetrators—are capable in extreme circumstances. Apart from being one of the earliest writers on the Holocaust, Zsolt is also one of the most powerful. He bears comparison with Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, or Imre Kertész. Both an accomplished novelist and a highly skilled journalist, he was reporting and analyzing these appalling events soon after they occurred with exceptional clarity and a devastating blend of angry despair and cool detachment. Zsolt was spared Auschwitz, but he witnessed and suffered some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust elsewhere; his nightmarish but meticulously realistic chronicle of smaller and larger crimes against humanity is as riveting as it is horrifying. The rediscovery and publication of Nine Suitcases is an event of great historical importance.

30 review for Nine Suitcases: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Buck

    Near the beginning of Nine Suitcases, Béla Zsolt recalls meeting some Jewish prostitutes from a Nazi ‘field brothel’ beside a railway track in Poland. One girl asks him and his companions if they’re Jews: “You’re going to kick the bucket like us,” she warns them. Zsolt goes on: Another girl, in the last stages of pregnancy, who was carrying some mouldy bread in a music case, asked us: ‘Have you got any German books? I’ve just finished what I had today. I’ve got a few days left to read a new one Near the beginning of Nine Suitcases, Béla Zsolt recalls meeting some Jewish prostitutes from a Nazi ‘field brothel’ beside a railway track in Poland. One girl asks him and his companions if they’re Jews: “You’re going to kick the bucket like us,” she warns them. Zsolt goes on: Another girl, in the last stages of pregnancy, who was carrying some mouldy bread in a music case, asked us: ‘Have you got any German books? I’ve just finished what I had today. I’ve got a few days left to read a new one if it isn’t too long.’ - ‘Why have you only got a few days?’ – ‘Because then I’m going to die. Wait a moment…’ and she counted on her fingers. ‘Seventeen or eighteen days. Then I’ll be in labour. Then they’re going to take me behind the bushes and bang…Dort is der Hurenfriedhof’ [That’s where the whores’ cemetery is.:] I don’t even know what a suitable response to this story would be; maybe just an overwhelming sense of shame at belonging to the human race. And I don’t know what we’re supposed to take away from it, either, unless it’s the knowledge that such atrocities have happened in the past, are still happening today, and will happen again. Assuming you’re over the age of twelve, you don’t need to read Nine Suitcases to know that human beings are mostly a bunch of shits: not downright evil, by and large, just shabby—infinitely shabby. The men who sent Zsolt—a prominent liberal journalist in Hungary before the war—to dig graves on the Eastern front, and later to prison and the Jewish ghetto, were not world-historical monsters: they lacked the panache to play that role. They were contemptible, small-minded mediocrities, not unlike some of the people you work with—or, God help you, for—every day. I’m not endorsing the ‘banality of evil’ thesis: there’s nothing banal about shooting a pregnant woman. But Zsolt himself tells us that he couldn’t work up a proper hatred for his oppressors, however loathsome their behaviour: they were just too stupid, too absurd, too ‘petit bourgeois’ (one of his favourite epithets). While Nine Suitcases contains a lot of passionately bitter writing—what moron wouldn’t be bitter in Zsolt’s shoes?—it’s not all gloom. Again and again, Zsolt is astonished by the generosity, and sometimes the pure, suicidal heroism, of the least likely people. In Russia, more than one peasant risks summary execution to help a sick Jewish intellectual on the run; dangerously ill with typhus, Zsolt is attended by an overbearing military doctor, who calls him a ‘cemetery case’ and curses the Jews—then sits by his bed all night, prescribes a ‘first-class diet’ (against the hospital’s anti-Semitic regulations) and in an unguarded moment tells him: “To hell with this bloody world! I’m so sorry for you. I’d love to send you home and I’m going to try, but I don’t think these bastards will let me.” Zsolt adds: And the next day he was roaring at me, as always. But he had saved my life... He was a doctor from Sopron, a gentile, Dr Kovács. If I were to get out of here alive, I would tell everybody that such things also happened. As some of you know, I’ve been reading a lot of appalling, horrific stuff lately, gobbling up books on the Soviet Terror, WWI and other Really Bad Shit. But I just realized that what attracts me to this material is not some decadent taste for extreme situations—or at least, it’s not only that. It’s also a need to hear stories about people like Dr Kovács. This will sound corny, but I’m looking for models of human goodness, because in my bumbling, half-assed, diffident way, I want to be good, too. And not necessarily actively good, like the doctor; most days I’d settle for not being a total bastard. That’s something to work towards, isn’t it?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    I don't know if I'd call this one of the greatest Holocaust memoirs like it says on the cover blurb, but it is good, and it is significant because it's definitely one of the earliest memoirs. It was originally published in serial form in 1946, only a year after the war ended, but it was suppressed by the Communists and languished in obscurity after that. It wasn't translated into English until recently. The author, Bela Zsolt, was the stepfather of the famous teen Holocaust diarist Eva Heyman, I don't know if I'd call this one of the greatest Holocaust memoirs like it says on the cover blurb, but it is good, and it is significant because it's definitely one of the earliest memoirs. It was originally published in serial form in 1946, only a year after the war ended, but it was suppressed by the Communists and languished in obscurity after that. It wasn't translated into English until recently. The author, Bela Zsolt, was the stepfather of the famous teen Holocaust diarist Eva Heyman, who was killed at Auschwitz. Bela was a famous journalist and novelist before the war, and he used his wealth and connections to escape the ghetto with his wife at the eleventh hour. Both of their entire families perished. Bela returned to Hungary after the war and was elected to Parliament. His wife, Eva Heyman's mother, committed suicide shortly after Eva's diary was published. Bela died in 1948, not long after his wife. He was only in his fifties. Maybe it was a broken heart. I quite enjoyed Zsolt's frank, sardonic writing style. It made me want to read his other works, but I don't think any have been translated into English, and I don't want to read them QUITE badly enough to learn Hungarian. This memoir was about Zsolt's time in the ghetto in 1944, and also his experiences serving as a forced laborer in Ukraine earlier in the war. He has a way of capturing the personalities of minor characters in just a few lines. The book did end very abruptly though. In fact, there was really no ending at all. Perhaps this was due to the serial format it was originally written in; maybe he was contracted for a certain number of issues and no more, so he couldn't wrap things up properly. One wonders how he would have improved upon things if he had lived to edit his serial before it was published in book form. I would recommend this book, particularly to those interested in the Holocaust in Hungary.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    The bravery of this man. It's near impossible to comprehend how he was able to devote his life to the betterment of his beloved country and suffer such horrors as compensation. He didn't even make it to the camps, you know. He didn't need to in order to endure the worst of the atrocities that WWII had to offer to mankind. And then he was able to recount it in the most minute detail, but wasn't able to finish writing it. The irony of it all is sickening. People should be grateful that he went The bravery of this man. It's near impossible to comprehend how he was able to devote his life to the betterment of his beloved country and suffer such horrors as compensation. He didn't even make it to the camps, you know. He didn't need to in order to endure the worst of the atrocities that WWII had to offer to mankind. And then he was able to recount it in the most minute detail, but wasn't able to finish writing it. The irony of it all is sickening. People should be grateful that he went through such trials with his mind intact, as it is hard to think of a person more fitting for the task of descending into hell and coming out of it to tell the tale. It never stopped, either. Months home from grave-digging in Ukraine, he's then thrust into prison, gets out and leaves the country, and then is barely recovered from his experiences when he makes the decision to go back to Hungary, and subsequently its ghettos. To put it simply, the guy could never catch a break. And yet he kept going, despite the failure of his country, despite the failure of his people, despite the failure of mankind to give him the life that his efforts should have brought him. And in the process he brought us this memoir that exemplifies the fact that reality is stranger than fiction, and even the most fantastical story pales in comparison to the truths of what humans are really capable of. Horrifically evil, infuriatingly neutral, altruistically beautiful. All are showcased in the author's recounting of the fate he suffered during one of the worst times of the history of the world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    PDXReader

    I'm not sure why I've never heard of this author or his works. Nine Suitcases: A Memoir is every bit as heart-breaking, horrific and important as the works of Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Primo Levy. It's nothing short of amazing, and perhaps the best written account out there of what it was like to be a Hungarian Jew during WWII (without doubt the best I've encountered). If you have any interest at all in Holocaust literature, you really need to get a copy of this book. I don't generally I'm not sure why I've never heard of this author or his works. Nine Suitcases: A Memoir is every bit as heart-breaking, horrific and important as the works of Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Primo Levy. It's nothing short of amazing, and perhaps the best written account out there of what it was like to be a Hungarian Jew during WWII (without doubt the best I've encountered). If you have any interest at all in Holocaust literature, you really need to get a copy of this book. I don't generally keep books after I've read them, preferring to pass them on to friends instead. But this account so moved me and means so much to me that this is one book I can't bear to get rid of, and one that I'll likely treasure forever.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie Beeman

    One of the most moving books I have read because of its unfiltered honesty of the holocaust. It isn't pretty, touching, or inspiring, it is merely an account of human evil. I must read because of its significance to our world and understanding our past. It isn't warm and fuzzy account, and the things that happened are so horrifying because you know they are real. Very eye openning and somewhat disturbing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    An important book about the WWII. The book would have been interesting enough already if it were 'only' an account of one man's experiences during the war, but 'nine suitcases' is much more than that. Zsolt's reflections on why people did what they did in the war are fascinating and insightful. His observations about human behaviour (including his own) are matter-of-fact but not judgemental, which I think is a great achievement. The story in itself is also fascinating, albeit he was not able to An important book about the WWII. The book would have been interesting enough already if it were 'only' an account of one man's experiences during the war, but 'nine suitcases' is much more than that. Zsolt's reflections on why people did what they did in the war are fascinating and insightful. His observations about human behaviour (including his own) are matter-of-fact but not judgemental, which I think is a great achievement. The story in itself is also fascinating, albeit he was not able to finish it. The translator's note mentions that some translations end with the end of part one, other (including the Dutch version I read) added the first two chapters of a second part, which was to describe how a group of Hungarians, Zsolt included, was saved (or rather bought) from concentration camp Bergen-Belsen by the negotiations of jewish journalist Rezso Kasztner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kastner...). Zsolt didn't live long enough after the war to finish writing down this part of his experiences.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan Emmet

    Finished this remarkable book. Don't know where I found it, but it turned up in our library while I was culling books to give away. Struck by the detailing, the indictment of victims and perpetrators. I've never read anything in Holocaust rememberings like this book. Unlike his and his wife Agnes' families, Zsolt avoided Auschwitz, but suffered immeasurably in his Hungarian ghetto and in the Ukraine where he was deported to forced labor as a gravedigger. He was tortured, starved and sick, but Finished this remarkable book. Don't know where I found it, but it turned up in our library while I was culling books to give away. Struck by the detailing, the indictment of victims and perpetrators. I've never read anything in Holocaust rememberings like this book. Unlike his and his wife Agnes' families, Zsolt avoided Auschwitz, but suffered immeasurably in his Hungarian ghetto and in the Ukraine where he was deported to forced labor as a gravedigger. He was tortured, starved and sick, but survived, only to die from long-held wounds in 1949. A veteran of World War I, Zsolt became a novelist and journalist who advocated for those who finally turned against him, as both Jew and Hungarian. He lost faith in God,"the people" and himself. Had his wife not insisted on trucking nine suitcases on a journey, they probably could have escaped across the border to Switzerland. But the suitcases haunt them both. With keen eye, wit and despair, Zsolt confronts the treachery of both victim and perpetrator as he tells his story and examines the actions of people in dire straits, unimaginable dire straits. This book was supressed by the Communists for over forty years and has only been recently translated and published in England. Ladislaus Lob, the translator, offers a fine, insightful introduction. Hard and amazing read this is.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maria Beltrami

    Una specie di lungo monologo, una presa diretta della memoria, nella quale l'autore e protagonista descrive l'orrore dell'internamento nel ghetto e la certezza di correre incontro a morte certa. Ormai la guerra è alla fine, tutti lo sanno, eppure la macchina nazista dello sterminio non si ferma, come un qualsiasi animale ottuso non può fermarsi nemmeno se morente. E l'intellettuale ebreo, l'intellettuale di sinistra che ha combattuto contro tutte le discriminazioni, che ha già patito il confino e Una specie di lungo monologo, una presa diretta della memoria, nella quale l'autore e protagonista descrive l'orrore dell'internamento nel ghetto e la certezza di correre incontro a morte certa. Ormai la guerra è alla fine, tutti lo sanno, eppure la macchina nazista dello sterminio non si ferma, come un qualsiasi animale ottuso non può fermarsi nemmeno se morente. E l'intellettuale ebreo, l'intellettuale di sinistra che ha combattuto contro tutte le discriminazioni, che ha già patito il confino e il lavoro coatto per le sue idee politiche, prova l'estrema umiliazione dell'annullamento della persona e del progetto di annientamento fisico solo ed esclusivamente per una identità razziale a cui pure sente di non appartenere. E che cosa sono le nove valigie? Oltre ad essere il concreto fattore che ha portato lui e la moglie a finire nel ghetto, verso il campo di concentramento e la morte, sono il simbolo dell'attaccamento borghese verso i beni materiali, verso tutto ciò che l'autore ha combattuto in tutta la sua vita, e che infatti è solo foriero di distruzione e di morte.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Mahaney

    This was a great book on the Holocaust, one of the best I have ever read. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives one a look at Hungarian fascism and also a shocking expose to the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings—the victims no less than the perpetrators—are capable in extreme circumstances. This was what This was a great book on the Holocaust, one of the best I have ever read. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives one a look at Hungarian fascism and also a shocking expose to the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings—the victims no less than the perpetrators—are capable in extreme circumstances. This was what made this book so powerful, much different than others. Highly recommend. This is not an exciting book. It is not written to make you fall in love with the writer. It is what it is, a true story with no embellishments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I thought this was a good read, but it was really hard to get through, for some reason.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    I must have missed something in this book. A whiny man blaming the "Nine Suitcases" that his wife insisted on bringing for his fate.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tress

    A second reading felt necessary after finishing The Invisible Bridge. Words don't suffice for how frightening and honest this is. The worst thing about it is it's true. Should be required reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Nine Suitcases: A Memoir is by Bela Zsolt. This memoir was suppressed by the Communists for forty years and never before published in English. This is one of the first memoirs written and according to some, the best. He is compared to Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi, although his way of writing is not nearly as reader friendly. This memoir coves Bela’s life during the Holocaust and refers to his life before. It is very detailed and is sometimes pedantic. This makes it hard to read while the content Nine Suitcases: A Memoir is by Bela Zsolt. This memoir was suppressed by the Communists for forty years and never before published in English. This is one of the first memoirs written and according to some, the best. He is compared to Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi, although his way of writing is not nearly as reader friendly. This memoir coves Bela’s life during the Holocaust and refers to his life before. It is very detailed and is sometimes pedantic. This makes it hard to read while the content makes it difficult to read. Bela Zsolt was born in Hungary in 1895. He served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I where he was gravely wounded. He never really regained his health after that. After the war, he became a writer and a journalist. He was probably the most prolific writer of that time with ten novels, four plays, and numerous literary and journalistic pieces. He spent much of his time in cafes and coffee houses discussing politics with others. He wrote as an aggressive liberal. He had nothing to do with the far Left; but took every opportunity to denounce the conservative side that ruled Hungary. Although he was Jewish, he wrote a lot of anti-Jewish articles. During the first years of World War II and before the persecution of Jews became prevalent, he and his wife, Agnes, moved to Paris. However, she insisted they return to Hungary to be close to her parents and her daughter from a previous marriage who lived with her parents. Back in Hungary, he was called up and sent to Ukraine in 1942. Here he was treated harshly by the Hungarian officers. His friends were able to get him home in late 1943. He then spent time in prison for his writings. When he was released, he and his wife moved to be nearer her parents. He always said if it wasn’t for his wife’s nine suitcases, they would have left Paris for other places not Hungary; but the other trains couldn’t handle their nine suitcases. Agnes needed her “things” with her. Bela keeps remembering those nine suitcases wherever he went. He was given several chances to leave Hungary and other places; but never took his friends up on it because Agnes refused. At times, you get the feeling he didn’t love her; but other times, you know he does. Bela’s descriptions of his time in the Ukraine and in prison and later in the various camps he was in are very detailed. The harsh treatment he receives is horrible. He did find favor with a doctor who kept him in the hospital long after he should have been released. This doctor hid him and his wife in the hospital and later in a typhus ward. Here he was given the typhus virus which gave him the Be symptoms but not the disease. Agnes was hospitalized due to a wound which would not heal. The book is really dry at times and the descriptions get you bogged down. However, he gives a very detailed account of life before and during the Holocaust for a Jew. He and Agnes were lucky they were not sent to Auschwitz with her parents and daughter. Agnes did not always see that she was lucky; but he did. Life for them under the Communists was not easy after the war. He died at the age of 55 in 1949. Agnes committed suicide in 1948 after publishing her daughter’s diary, The Diary of Eva Heyman. Once you get use to his way of writing, the book is easier to read. It is definitely a book worth reading.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Mcintyre

    I have read 'Night' another well written book on the holocaust and couldn't put it down. So easy to read. This book was difficult to read and written in an unusual way. Not your usual way of telling a story. He wasn't a people person and this came out in his writing. I couldn't finish this book as it didn't grab my attention. I don't persevere with books that don't interest me because of the way there written or because of swearing. It was written in a way you would expect a textbook to be I have read 'Night' another well written book on the holocaust and couldn't put it down. So easy to read. This book was difficult to read and written in an unusual way. Not your usual way of telling a story. He wasn't a people person and this came out in his writing. I couldn't finish this book as it didn't grab my attention. I don't persevere with books that don't interest me because of the way there written or because of swearing. It was written in a way you would expect a textbook to be written. I wonder if this was because it was translated into English? Such a pity as the other reviews are praising this book as being the best account of the holocaust they have read...hmmm...might give it another go then...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Es de los primeros testimonios del holocausto y su autor era escritor, por tanto, es un relato bien escrito y sin filtro editorial. Además, la odisea de este hombre en la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue diferente porque no estuvo en un campo de concentración. La mejor parte y por lo que merece la pena todo lo demás, es la parte del tren en la que él, su mujer y una amiga viajan, en el 44, a Budapest. Con todo lo que había visto ya, es capaz de narrar con sentido del humor, con sarcasmo y con cinismo, Es de los primeros testimonios del holocausto y su autor era escritor, por tanto, es un relato bien escrito y sin filtro editorial. Además, la odisea de este hombre en la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue diferente porque no estuvo en un campo de concentración. La mejor parte y por lo que merece la pena todo lo demás, es la parte del tren en la que él, su mujer y una amiga viajan, en el 44, a Budapest. Con todo lo que había visto ya, es capaz de narrar con sentido del humor, con sarcasmo y con cinismo, y casi con frialdad, lo que hacen y dicen sus compañeros de vagón mientras los aliados bombardeaban Hungría. La ignorancia del pueblo llano sobre el holocausto es un mito. Sabían.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Jones

    Picked this book up in a bookstore in Budapest after visiting the Holocaust Museum not really knowing what to expect but seeking an account of someone who lived through the experience rather than a historian's view of events. It makes for grim reading but it is well written as you would expect from a journalist. Personally I am glad I read the book but feel a reader needs to be 'ready' to read the accounts of the cruelty and misery that people are capable of when it comes to war and Picked this book up in a bookstore in Budapest after visiting the Holocaust Museum not really knowing what to expect but seeking an account of someone who lived through the experience rather than a historian's view of events. It makes for grim reading but it is well written as you would expect from a journalist. Personally I am glad I read the book but feel a reader needs to be 'ready' to read the accounts of the cruelty and misery that people are capable of when it comes to war and discrimination.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Magill

    Written closely on the tail of WWII, this Hungarian Jew, was an author and social critic/activist (as best as I can tell), and was more passionate about social issues than his Judaism or the Jewish community (see pp 274-275, for example). But those things combined made him even more of a target as Hungary was pulled more closely into the insanity of Nazi Germany. The book begins with his incarceration in a Jewish ghetto as the eager Hungarians (efficiently aided by the Germans) annihilate the Written closely on the tail of WWII, this Hungarian Jew, was an author and social critic/activist (as best as I can tell), and was more passionate about social issues than his Judaism or the Jewish community (see pp 274-275, for example). But those things combined made him even more of a target as Hungary was pulled more closely into the insanity of Nazi Germany. The book begins with his incarceration in a Jewish ghetto as the eager Hungarians (efficiently aided by the Germans) annihilate the Hungarian Jews in 1944. The narrative roams from there to his time in the Ukraine as a forced labourer, which he just survived, before returning to further describe his time and subsequent "escape" from the liquidation of that ghetto. The trenchant observations spare no one, including himself, when it comes to human nature, character and courage, self-justification and apathy. Hints of mordant humour, directed towards himself as much as others, are littered throughout. He capably relates the atrocities but his clear-eyed gaze never falters and maybe it is his newspaper writing background that allows him to write what he sees even when he is in the midst of it, the victim of it. He writes what he sees, kindnesses (increasingly unexpected) and brutality (increasingly the norm). He mocks himself to some degree, and maybe that is his response to the madness and the eager willingness of human beings to treat other people with such brutality, and so thoroughly. Maybe that is his disillusionment speaking... I don't think you can tilt at windmills for so many years unless you do believe it matters, and to see the descent into madness of your country and seemingly everyone fighting to get there first has to be soul crushing, even to such a decadent bourgeois as the author. The tone of this book is quite different from Frankl or Wiesel, and I appreciated the incisive writing, even as I winced my way through the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Damián

    El Holocausto visto por el gran escritor húngaro Béla Zsolt. Es un testimonio literario y humano estremecedor que relata los días en el gueto de Nagyvarad, Hungría (hoy Oradea, Rumania), los dramas que vio durante la WW2, sus torturas y persecuciones. Zsolt viaja de Budapest a París junto a su esposa y 9 maletas, tras su regreso es deportado y enviado a trabajar en un campo esclavo en el frente oriental, confinado en un gueto y enviado a un campo e concentración hasta su liberación por las El Holocausto visto por el gran escritor húngaro Béla Zsolt. Es un testimonio literario y humano estremecedor que relata los días en el gueto de Nagyvarad, Hungría (hoy Oradea, Rumania), los dramas que vio durante la WW2, sus torturas y persecuciones. Zsolt viaja de Budapest a París junto a su esposa y 9 maletas, tras su regreso es deportado y enviado a trabajar en un campo esclavo en el frente oriental, confinado en un gueto y enviado a un campo e concentración hasta su liberación por las tropas soviéticas. Relata casi fríamente hechos como el de las prostitutas judías que estaban en vagones para satisfacer a soldados alemanes y cuando quedaban embarazadas eran asesinadas el día del parto para que no naciera un "bastardo" y eran enterradas en el cementerio de las putas, o como los torturaban una y otra vez para que dijeran el escondite de sus joyas y bienes, la apatía por su destino, la sumisión de sus compañeros del gueto etc, etc. Finalmente un médico judío, el Dr, Németi, le ofrece a cambio de dinero hacerlo pasar por enfermo de tifus para salvarse de la cámara de gas, pero se escapa con su esposa con la ayuda de una amiga. El final es muy abrupto, en dos capítulos relata que luego fue enviado a un campo de concentración cerca de Nuremberg y en el último capitulo ya se encuentra a salvo en un tren rumbo a Suiza.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dorothyd

    Neuf valises est un témoignage poignant d'un journaliste hongrois sur ce qu'il a vécu de l'holocauste lors de la 2ème guerre mondiale. D'abord publié en feuilletons dans un journal, son histoire est dans ce livre regroupé. Il y évoque sa vie de tourmente pendant la guerre, fossoyeur forcé en Ukraine puis déporté dans un ghetto, il vie toutes les abominations de l'occupation d'un pays, son pays, la Hongrie. C'est un témoignage très réaliste, à ne pas laisser dans les mains des âmes sensibles, mais Neuf valises est un témoignage poignant d'un journaliste hongrois sur ce qu'il a vécu de l'holocauste lors de la 2ème guerre mondiale. D'abord publié en feuilletons dans un journal, son histoire est dans ce livre regroupé. Il y évoque sa vie de tourmente pendant la guerre, fossoyeur forcé en Ukraine puis déporté dans un ghetto, il vie toutes les abominations de l'occupation d'un pays, son pays, la Hongrie. C'est un témoignage très réaliste, à ne pas laisser dans les mains des âmes sensibles, mais permet de réaliser les horreurs que les humains peuvent faire subir à d'autres. Ma véritable critique du livre viendra du fait que j'ai eu beaucoup de mal à me faire à la façon de rédiger de l'auteur, il évoque des événements passé et présent dans un même narration, ce qui manquait de clarté pour moi, et me faisait décrocher. C'est dommage mais cela n'enlève pas l'importance du témoignage de cet homme. Je reste malgré tout moyennement satisfaite de cette lecture, car je ne suis pas complétement entrée dans la lecture.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Margi

    This account was suppressed by the Communists for forty years. . It was originally published in installments in Hungary starting in 1946. I did find it interesting in the fact that it was Hungary and the Ukraine which I have not read about before. Mr. Zsolt's story is very compelling and his strength is most definitely unbelievable. His endurance and will to survive is amazing. The atrocities this gentleman faced are beyond comprehension. I loved the references to the Nine Suitcases and what This account was suppressed by the Communists for forty years. . It was originally published in installments in Hungary starting in 1946. I did find it interesting in the fact that it was Hungary and the Ukraine which I have not read about before. Mr. Zsolt's story is very compelling and his strength is most definitely unbelievable. His endurance and will to survive is amazing. The atrocities this gentleman faced are beyond comprehension. I loved the references to the Nine Suitcases and what they represented. This is the first time this account has been translated into English.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Herman De Wulf

    De auteur overtuigt ons van zijn kwaliteiten. Hij beschrijft wat hij met een scherp oog ziet in mooie zinnen en graaft diep in de gedachten en gevoelens van al de slachtoffers die hem omringen. Een aangrijpend boek ook al ken je de goede afloop. De arrogantie van de Duitse bezetter, die toen de oorlog zo goed als verloren was in Hongarije nog zoveel mensen de dood heeft ingejaagd, tart elke verbeelding en wordt hier vanuit de ervaringen van de auteur in een mooi proza gegoten.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    Very revealing about WWII anti-Semitism and persecution in Europe. Bit of a difficult read as he jumps back and forth in time & topic as in a casual conversation. There are few people to like in this book. He is irreverent & a realist in the negative sense. All that said, it is well worth the read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    Incredibly well written. Honest in a way I have certainly not read before when dealing with the holocaust. Terribly sad. I can't help constantly questioning hoe I would have fared. As a Jew I would not have survived: I don't believe I would have been physically or mentally strong enough. As s non-Jew would I have been as ignorant and evil as some of his descriptions?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Zsolt's Nine Suitcases is excellent - Zsolt writes beautifully & does not pull any punches. He gives us a window into what it took to survive Nazi occupation, the grim reality of the sacrifices that people had to make. The recounting of people trying to escape, succeeding & then returning to the Nazis was terrifying.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laci

    This is a soul-crushingly painful read on the dark depths of humanity in the face of war. Blunt and clearly written, Zsolt puts the reader in his shoes effortlessly and makes you thankful that you can easily close the book and NOT have experienced the atrosities occuring within the pages. Be prepared to read something lighthearted after this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Larissa Huhn

    I only dislike this so much because it isn't so much about the Holocaust as it is the author's thoughts on the war. I greatly dislike books that are contemplating "the-meaning-of-life-type-thing". Too poetic for my taste.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I struggled with the beginning of this book. I found it hard to read, but overall it was just okay.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Peters

    I really enjoyed this book.I felt it was a different twist to typical books on the holocaust. So sad for the Jews who suffered so much.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Micebyliz

    stark and bitter.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire S

    Wow!

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