Prestigious German Literary Prize For Book On Memories Of Auschwitz

Oct. 27, 2013


Historian Otto Dov Kulka, professor emeritus at the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the winner of the Geschwister Scholl Prize for 2013.

The 10,000-euro prize, awarded by the city of Munich, Germany, and the Bavarian branch of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, is presented annually to a book that reflects a spirit of intellectual independence and is deemed to be a work that can promote the aims of civic freedom and moral and intellectual courage, while providing important stimulus for galvanizing a sense of responsibility for the historical present and its challenges.

Prof. Kulka’s book is entitled Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death. Auschwitz and the Limits of Memory and Imagination.

Prof. Kulka was born in 1933 in Czechoslovakia. As a young child, he was seized by the Nazis and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a survivor, he came to Israel in 1949. Over many decades as a Hebrew University researcher, Prof. Kulka devoted himself to scholarly research on the crimes of the Nazis and modern anti-Semitism and has produced a number of noteworthy studies in this field. In this, his latest work, he explores his memories of Auschwitz. He looks at his days as a child there, recalling scenes, asking about their meaning, yet not arriving at a set, fixed interpretation.

“With its images of remembrance, the book functions to change our perceptions of the past, thus generating new impetus for comprehending and living in the present. It is both an unconventional and gripping testimony — a book that makes it easy for none and deserves a broad readership,” the prize jury wrote. Published this year, the book has already been translated into 17 languages.

This is not the first time that an Israeli has won this prestigious German prize. In 2008 author David Grossman was the winner, and in 1998 Israel Prize winner Saul Friedlnder won it. German President Joachim Gauck is also a past winner.

The prize will be awarded to Prof. Kulka at a ceremony to be held at the University of Munich on Nov. 18 during the Munich Literary Festival.