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1999 besuchte Kazuo Ishiguro die Gedenkstätte Auschwitz-Birkenau

Kazuo Ishiguro 1999 in Oswiecim

Kazuo Ishiguro 1999 in Oswiecim


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Am 6. Oktober 1999 besuchte der britische Autor Kazuo Ishiguro auf Einladung des Internationalen Auschwitz Komitees die Gedenkstätte Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Die Idee, ihn einzuladen, war nach der Lektüre seines Werkes "Der Maler der fließenden Welt" entstanden. In diesem Roman schildert Ishiguro die Verstrickungen eines japanischen Malers in den agressiven japanischen Patriotismus und die japanische Expansionspolitik im 2. Weltkrieg sowie die Nachkriegserklärungen und Aufarbeitungsversuche des Malers innerhalb seiner Familie.

Über diese und andere Fragen las und diskutierte Ishiguro am Abend des 6. Oktober 1999 mit Christoph Heubner, Leszek Szuster und vielen polnischen Gästen in der Internationalen Jugendbegegnungsstätte in Oswiecim. Keiner der Anwesenden ahnte, dass Kazuo Ishiguro – fast auf den Tag genau – 18 Jahre später mit dem Nobelpreis für Literatur geehrt werden würde:

Seine Reflektionen und Erfahrungen zum Aufenthalt in Auschwitz, der ihn sehr bewegt hat, hat Ishiguro im März 2000 in einem Gespräch mit der Autorin Suzie Mackenzie in einem Interview des britischen Guardian geschildert:

Last autumn, Ishiguro received an invitation to visit Auschwitz from the International Auschwitz Committee, set up by survivors after the war to preserve its memory and to teach future generations what had occurred there. And though he receives many invitations, and declines most of them, he decided to accept. He discovered there that the organisation had reached a crisis point: a lot of the people who had experienced the camp are very old, and a time will come when there will be no survivors to impart their memory to the young. The Auschwitz Committee had invited Ishiguro as part of its initiative to become a wider intellectual and cultural centre, to apply the experience of the past to contemporary situations such as Kosovo. They have recognised that they have got to change, Ishiguro says, or there is the danger that the memory will have no more relevance for future generations than the Napoleonic Wars do for us. "We may remember the Holocaust, but in some superficial Guy Fawkes Night sort of way. We will forget in the profound sense. The deeper questions will be lost."

As he has got older, this realisation has concerned him more. "For me, it is a part of the ageing process. I have begun to feel the burden of remembering - the last war, the cold war. It is falling now to our generation. Even though we didn't live through it, we grew up in the shadow of it and the fears that came out of it." For the first time in a century, we have leaders who did not experience a war directly. "That is a worry, because the sad fact is that we all know how easy it is to send people to war." And, as he says, some who will be eligible to vote in the next election probably won't remember a time before the Berlin Wall came down. "There is a generation after us who have never known a war. It doesn't puzzle me at all that the far right in Europe can pick up votes with the young. Or that those of us in middle age are more wary."

Of course, we have been lucky. "It seems a staggering fluke that a group of us who happen to live in a little corner of Europe have escaped disasters. If you look through history this doesn't happen often." It reminds him, he says, of a scene in a Buster Keaton film where two huge barn doors fall down either side of him, just missing him, And he walks off blissfully unaware. "There is a bunch of us just like that. And I don't know if this luck can hold out."