From an interview I did for The Irish Times. Still relevant.
It’s not difficult to spot him: “a small old Jew with glasses” is how he describes himself. But there are other attributes to be ascribed to Aharon Appelfeld, in Dublin this week to give the keynote speech at the Holocaust Conference in TCD. Gentleness is one of them, which is astounding when one learns the toughness of his story.
Born just 70 years ago into a well-to-do family in what was then Romania, he had a privileged upbringing with regular holiday stays in the great cities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including Bratislava, Prague and Vienna. German was his mother tongue, but he also spoke Ukrainian and Romanian. The neighbours spoke Polish and his grandparents spoke Yiddish.
The happy, cosmopolitan childhood came to an abrupt end, however, with a…
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