Bela Zsolt

Nine Suitcases
  • Nine Suitcases

  • Originally published in weekly instalments, Nine Suitcases is the Hungarian writer Béla Zsolt's harrowing memoir of his experiences in the ghetto of Nagyvarad and as a forced labourer in the Ukraine. Written with exceptional freshness and a devastating blend of angry despair and cool detachment, Zsolt - one of the earliest writers on the Holocaust - provides not only a rare insight into Hungarian fascism, but a shocking exposure of the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings - the victims no less than the perpetrators - are capable in extreme circumstances. Interspersed with moments of grotesque farce, grim irony and occasional memories of human kindness, Zsolt's nightmarish but meticulously realistic chronicle of smaller and larger crimes against humanity is as riveting as it is horrifying.

Béla Zsolt was one of Hungary's best-known writers in the early twentieth century. Born in 1895, he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army from 1914 to 1918 and in a Hungarian-Jewish forced-labour unit in 1942-1943. In 1944, after a spell in a Hungarian ghetto and a German concentration camp, he found refuge in Switzerland. In 1945 he returned to Hungary and in 1947 became an anti-communist member of parliament. He died in 1949. Ladislaus Löb was born in Transylvania. He is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Sussex.