Israel-Prize Laureate Aharon Appelfeld (1932–2018), Romania/Ukraine/Israel

Appelfeld, one of the post important Israeli authors, professor emeritus of Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, and currently member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Honorary Member of the CCP, received numerous awards, including the “Premio della Rosa d’Oro” of the Milanesiana (2010), the “Premio Napoli” (2007), the “Nelly-Sachs-Preis” (2005), the “Prix Médicis” (2004) and the “Israel Prize” (1983). His books were translated into many languages. Among the books translated into French are: Fumée, nouvelles (1962), Dans la vallée fertile, nouvelles (1963), Gel sur la terre, nouvelles (1965), Au rez-de-chaussée, nouvelles (1968), Les piliers du fleuve, nouvelles (1971), La robe et la peau, roman (1971), Comme la prunelle de son œil, nouvelle (1973), Cent témoins, recueil de nouvelles (1975), Des années et des heures, nouvelles (1975), Le Temps des prodiges, roman (2004), Premiers essais d’une personne, essais (1979), Badenheim 1939, roman (1979, 2004), Lumière incandescente, roman (1980), Tsili, nouvelle (1983), En même temps, roman (1985), Langue de feu (1988), Katerina, roman (1989), Le chemin de fer, roman (1991), Laish (1994), Perdu (1995), Jusqu’à la lumière de l’aube (1995), La mine de glace (1997), Tout ce que j’ai aimé (1999), Histoire d’une vie (1999, 2004, Prix Médicis 2004), Floraison sauvage, roman (2005), L’héritage nu, Retours sur la question juive (2005), L’Amour, soudain (2004), L’immortel Bartfuss (2005), La chambre de Mariana (2008), Et la fureur ne s’est pas encore tue (2009), Le garçon qui voulait dormir (2011), Les eaux tumultueuses (2013).

His experiences during World War II are the key theme of his work: Appelfeld was born in 1932 into a German-speaking Jewish family in Paul Celan’s and Rose Ausländer’s native town, Czernowitz. For more information about this city, see: Czernowitz, Bukovina. He was 9 years old when Romanian fascists and German Nazis occupied this region and its capital, murdering thousands of Jews, including his mother and grand-mother. The survivors were deported in cattle wagons to death camps in Transnistria (Western Ukraine) where they died of hunger, typhoid fever, exhaustion due to forced labor or were shot dead. Among the deportees were Appelfeld and his father. In the death camp, Appelfed got separated from his father. He remained alone. Although the camp was fiercely guareded, he managed to flee the camp and hide in the woods; other outcasts helped him. Later he was picked up by the Red Army and given the possibility to work in the kitchen. At the end of the war, he walked with other orphans and displaced persons thousands of miles from the Bucovina via Romania, Bulgaria, ex-Jugoslavia and Italy in order to get to Jerusalem.


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Imagine Peace!”  –  Lecture, reading from his work, and seminar, Lugano, Switzerland, 3-4 May 2011.


Laureate of the City for the Cultures of Peace, 2011.


Photo © Aharon Appelfeld