il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

How a once-neglected Slovenian writer survived the Nazis camps to live to 108

The death of the writer Boris Pahor last week was a sad moment for all of us. One of the most important literary and intellectual voices of the 20th century and a sharp voice against Nazi-fascist crimes and communist repression, he was friend of the editorial staff of Pagine Ebraiche, whom he met several times through the years. Thus it was touching to see our interview shared by Forward, one of the most influential American Jewish publications.
The Slovenian author Boris Pahor, […] – writes Benjamin Ivry – proved that through mutual respect, ethnic minorities could preserve what distinguishes their identities and historical experiences. He explained to Pagine Ebraiche,” the monthly magazine of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, that his childhood years were spent in sight of, but also separate from, Jewish Trieste, associated with the poet Umberto Saba and the novelist Italo Svevo (Aron Hector Schmitz)”.
Pahor was born to a Catholic family in a house overlooking a Jewish school, and facing the old Jewish cemetery. Pahor’s young years were enriched by strolls through the historical Jewish ghetto, before it was vacated and partly demolished by Italy’s Fascist regime in 1937. During these walks, Pahor was lastingly enchanted by little shops redolent of a mixed aroma of coffee and fried fish. An even greater allure at other shops in the ghetto of Trieste were the vast numbers of inexpensive used books on sale, especially as European Fascism drove increasing numbers of Jews away from Germany and Eastern Europe. As Pahor put it, the Jewish “refugees brought with them a veritable treasure trove of books in all languages which were often sold before they departed for their ultimate destination, whether Palestine or the Americas.”
It is worth noting that The Forward linked a French translation of our reporting. It was by Francesca Angelucci and Alice Pugliese, students at the Secondary School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste and interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.