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29 September
2015

Martin Amis: Shedding light on dark sides of history

“Strange telegrams from a place of ignorance” — such is the way that Martin Amis described his work during his event on September 26th at the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. The meeting, led by Gregory Jankowicz, the Programme Director of the Conrad Festival, was a prelude to the forthcoming 7th Annual Conrad Festival.

Martin Amis visited Poland on the occasion of the release of his new book depicting the fate of people living in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The characters in it belong to different worlds, but what they do have in common is that they committed some act on the side of Nazi perpetrators and experience moral dilemmas. The romance that burgeons between Golo Thomsen, one of the German officers, and Hannah Doll, the wife of the commandant of the camp, becomes a (slightly grotesque) axis of history, which is also described by the voices of Paul Dolla and Shmuel – prisoner and leader of the Sonderkommando.

Listeners, some of whom actively participated in discussions with the writer, had the unique opportunity to better understand Amis and his thinking not only about the fate of the heroes of his books, but also about the memory associated with the Holocaust and Nazi ideology. The writer pointed out that the figure of Hitler always plagued him because of the impossibility of understanding him. In response to a question from the moderator, Amis also stressed the relationship between the dilemmas of World War II refugees and the contemporary drama, which puts a strain on the European way of thinking about human dignity.

The event with Amis kicked off this year’s Conrad Festival, organized under the slogan “Against the Current”. The event with this fascinating personality was a strong prelude to the experience that will follow next, which we hope will be met with equally keen interest.