Slovenian author and Nazi concentration camp survivor Boris Pahor passed away aged 108 on May 30. Pahor was best known for his novel Necropolis (1967). The autobiography was a chronicle of his days at the concentration camp where he was lodged twenty years before the publishing of the book.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella paying his tribute to Pahor hailed the renowned author as a “witness and victim of the horrors caused by war, by inflated nationalism and totalitarian ideologies”. Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini also paid his tribute by calling Pahor “a giant of the 20th century”, who did not shy away from writing about the dark times with “skill, lucidity and without pulling punches”.
Pahor was born on August 26, 1913 in Trieste, a North-eastern coastal city in Italy, which was under the control of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Pahor and his relatives were all Slovenian minorities in Trieste. The city was annexed by Italy in 1918 after the Danubian Monarchy fell. In 1918 after the fall of the empire, Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy. However, he was a fascist and the minorities were being suppressed under his rule due to which Pahor’s father had to make a living as a street vendor. After being drafted to Libya as a soldier of the Italian Army in 1940, he attained his secondary education degree.
In 1943, during World War II, Pahor fought against the combined forces of Italian fascists and Nazis before being captured by the Domobracen militia in January 1944. He was deported to the Dachau concentration camp and four other camps afterwards. After surviving a 15-month long detention at 5 different concentration camps, Pahor was released in April 1945. Pahor then visited Paris where he recovered from tuberculosis.
Pahor’s books Necropolis and A Difficult Spring (1978) were based on the events of the concentration camps and his time at Paris respectively. Pahor wrote a lot of his books between 1953 and 1975. He taught as a schoolteacher in a Slovenian High School before retiring in 1975.
Boris Pahor has always spoken against totalitarianism, fascism and dictatorship. The holocaust chronicler has left behind a plethora of books that tell the stories of the atrocities the minorities faced in Italy and the rest of Europe during the fascist and Nazi regimes. His books will never let the coming generations forget the important events of history that remain as a shocking memory of catastrophic human suffering.