For those who pulled him out from among the corpses, he was a nameless boy. A medical orderly carried him up to the middle floor of the depot building in Buchenwald, where he got something to eat. Another orderly appeared and carried him off to an infirmary barrack in the “Little Camp”.

There he was in the care of a French doctor who, in collaboration with an inmate functionary, managed to have him transferred to the main camp infirmary. He was put in Room 6, where he was in the care of the Polish nurses Pjetka and Zbischek and the Czech Bohusch. The name on his bed was “Kerbisch” because, according to the camp records, the Jewish inmate 64921, Imre Kertész, had died on 17 February 1945. No one inquired about him because many of the others who had been on the same “invalid transport” from the Rehmsdorf subcamp were already dead by this point in time.

It was only much later that Imre Kertész put his story in writing in the novel Fateless. In 2002 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his complete works.

(Harry Stein)

Source: Imre Kertész, Fateless, London 2017.