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Czesław M. Holocaust testimony (HVT-1152) interviewed by Lawrence L. Langer

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-1152

Videotape testimony of Czesław M., who was born in Vilna, Russia (presently Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1911. A distinguished poet, critic, historian and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, he discusses the intellectual problems of the Holocaust in literature and reads, in Polish and English, his wartime poems "Campo di Fiore," "A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto," and "Cafe". Professor M. suggests that nineteenth century philosophy left Europeans unprepared for the events which took place between 1933 and 1945, which he believes explains the passivity and indifference with which many confronted the Holocaust. He discusses his beliefs on the duality between language and "crude reality," and that poetry of the Holocaust serves a redeeming function if it is "free from moral temptations and insanity." He recalls life as a university student in Vilnius; contacts with Jewish colleagues; the politicization of intellectual life; unsuccessfully urging a Jewish acquaintance not to register to be sent to Vittel, France; and his reminiscences about Tadeusz Borowski.

Author/Creator
M., Czesław, 1911-
Published
New Haven, Conn. : Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, 1989
Interview Date
April 13, 1989.
Language
English
Copies
3 copies: 3/4 in. master; 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Czesław M. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1152). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.