One of the highlights of this year’s London Book Fair looks to be the presentation of a republished version of communist East Germany’s most widely read novel.
Naked Among Wolves (Nackt Unter Wolfen), by Bruno Apitz, is a largely true story of a group of concentration camp inmates who rescue a Jewish boy from the gas chambers during the Second World War.
It became an anti-fascist classic after the war, selling over three million copies, and many anticipate a similar success story once the English-language version is released, reports the Guardian.
The novel is based in part on the author’s eight-year imprisonment in the Buchenwald concentration camp and reveals how a group of communist prisoners smuggled a Polish Jewish boy into the camp in a suitcase and protected him from almost certain death by hiding him from SS guards.
After the novels publication, the boy, known as Stefan Cyliak in the novel, was revealed to be Stefan Jerzy Zweig, a Polish boy born in the Krakow ghetto who came to Buchenwald with his father, Zacharias, when he was three.
But the re-release is likely to stoke up recent controversy surrounding the book, which first arose after new information revealed that, contrary to the novel’s plot, Zweig was actually ‘swapped’ for a 16-year-old Roma boy called Willy Blum who was sent to death in his place.
Nevertheless, the novel is expected to sell well once it has been republished, and some believe it could repeat the success of another East German title, Hans Fallada’s 1947 Alone in Berlin, which was a publishing sensation when an English edition came out three years ago.
The London Book Fair attracts thousands of members of the publishing industry from around the world.
Those planning on attending the event, which takes place at Earls Court between April 16th and 18th, may want to book their rooms at central London hotels while space is still available.