Boris Pahor - Necropoli (Nekropolis)
The first time I tried to read this book somehow I failed to get into it. Then I waited for the right moment to come as I was sure Pahor had something to tell.
When that moment came, months later, I was glad I gave Nekropolis a second chance.
Do not expect a second Elie Wiesel or a second Primo Levi as this book gives a different perspective on a detention experience in a Nazi concentration camp. Pahor was segregated in a small and not very known camp on the Alsatian mountains, the kind of camp that is often not even cited on the accounts about racial and political extermination.
He was not a Jew and had the Italian citizenship, but being Slovenian mother tongue he already suffered a first persecution in Trieste by local fascists trying to annihilate the non-Italian community there.
Then as an Italian by his documents he was considered a traitor by Germans and not a companion even by most of the Italian mother tongue people he met.
While in the camp he was trying to do his best healing people there (pretty much what Varlam Salamov did in the Kolyma gulags) but most of the times he could not do anything and had the impression of working in a morgue rather than in a barrack surgery.
Nevertheless, young Pahor never lost his hope as well as the capacity of contemplating the sky and the countryside above and around the camp.
Nekropolis is the story of Pahor's comeback to the concentration camp several years later. The writer visits the former camp wondering how the people who visit it can perceive the place. Did the concentration camp become a mere memorial? Did the camp become just a touristic venue?
Either contemplating a group of visitors or two young lovers walking hand in hand where the haftlinge worked, survived and died, Pahor reminisces what he felt while there leaving us a great book about the power and importance of memory.