Discovering the lost journals of Dr Andor Kämpfner

March 20, 2019 by Community newsdesk
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Shortly after his liberation from Buchenwald in April 1945, Dr Andor Kämpfner began writing an extraordinary document; his journals.

His recollections began on the day that the Germans occupied Hungary and brilliantly recount his thoughts and experiences in the final year of the Holocaust.

This document has never been published, until now. For the first time it has been translated into English and, for one night only, extracts will be presented as a dramatic reading together with a narrator.

This presentation will be followed by recollections by Dr Kämpfner’s wife and a talk from Professor Emeritus Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian at the Sydney Jewish Museum on the significance of Dr Kämpfner’s writings.

The event will take place at Emanuel Synagogue on Sunday April 7 from 5:00pm-6:30pm,
7 Ocean Street, Woollahra. Bookings essential – Emanuel members and under 18: free (donations welcome), Non-members $25.


The 1945 Holocaust Journal of Dr Andor Kämpfner 

Professor Konrad Kwiet writes:

Wherever the She’rit Hapletah, the remnants of European Jewry, were liberated, they were asked to tell their story of survival. Some 30,000 eye-witness accounts were recorded in the immediate post-war period – in questionnaires and protocols, reports and letters, journals and books. The early voices constitute the most important body of Jewish documents pertaining to the history of the Holocaust, at a time when memory was still fresh. Amongst them one testimony stands out.

Upon liberation, Dr Andor Kämpfner, a young Budapest University graduate and orthodox Rabbi, hastened to put his survival story on paper. A notebook served as an archival depository, recording the horrific episodes and traumatic experiences of his journey through the landscapes of the Holocaust. Arrest and deportation to Auschwitz in May 1944, tattooing and slave labour in the metropolis of death, death march and liberation in Buchenwald in April 1945 left indelible marks on his memory. Other striking features of his narrative are the concise description and the eloquent language employed, intertwined with the search for words to explain and to understand the horror he encountered. Like Elie Wiesel and others, he wrestled with G-d, asking where he has been in Auschwitz.

The notebook, hidden over many years in the personal papers of the late Rabbi, has been donated to the Sydney Jewish Museum. Translated into English by Suzanne Kadar, it will soon be published, attracting considerable attendance and a wide readership, indeed, a ‘lighthouse’ providing guidance to Holocaust history, education and remembrance.




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