Cold Crematorium

Cold Crematorium

Reporting from the Land of Auschwitz


A lost classic of Holocaust literature translated for the first time - from journalist, poet and survivor József Debreczeni

When József Debreczeni arrived in Auschwitz in 1944, had he been selected to go 'left', his life expectancy would have been approximately forty-five minutes. One of the 'lucky' ones, he was sent to the 'right', which led to twelve horrifying months of incarceration and slave labour in a series of camps, ending in the 'Cold Crematorium' - the so-called hospital of the forced labour camp Dörnhau, where prisoners too weak to work were left to die.

Debreczeni beat the odds and survived. Very soon he committed his experiences to paper in Cold Crematorium, one of the harshest and powerful indictments of Nazism ever written. This haunting memoir, rendered in the precise and unsentimental prose of an accomplished journalist, compels the reader to imagine human beings in circumstances impossible to comprehend intellectually.

First published in Hungarian in 1950 but never translated into English, this important eyewitness account finally takes its place among the great works of Holocaust literature.

'A literary diamond... A holocaust memoir worthy of Primo Levi' The Times

'A masterpiece' New Statesman


  • A literary diamond – sharp-edged and crystal clear. A haunting chronicle of rare, unsettling power... A holocaust memoir worthy of Primo Levi
    The Times

About the author

József Debreczeni

József Debreczeni was a Hungarian-language novelist, poet and journalist who spent most of his life in the former Yugoslavia. He was an editor of the Hungarian daily newspaper Ünnep in Budapest, from which he was dismissed due to anti-Jewish legislation. He was later a contributor to the Hungarian media, including the newspaper Napló, in the Yugoslav region of Vojvodina, as well as leading Belgrade newspapers. He was awarded the Híd Prize, the highest distinction in Hungarian literature in the former Yugoslavia.
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