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BBC airs documentary about Boris Pahor

Ljubljana, 29 November - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday evening aired a documentary about the 106-year-old Boris Pahor, believed to be the oldest living survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. Pahor, one of the most celebrated Slovenian writers, talks about life and death at the Natzweiler concentration camp.

Črna na Koroškem
Author Boris Pahor.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

Pahor tells BBC journalist Alan Yentob about his experiences with Fascism and Nazism in the 63-minute documentary The Man Who Saw Too Much, which is aimed at raising awareness of the horrors that happened in Europe more than seven decades ago.

The BBC crew visited Pahor at his home in Trieste. "Boris, a Slovenian, was born in the tolerant, cosmopolitan city of Trieste in 1913. After World War I, when it became part of Italy and Mussolini rose to power, fascists burned down the Slovenian cultural centre, closed their schools and the speaking of Slovenian in public was banned," BBC says on its website.

In the interview, Pahor remembers in Slovenian the events from 1944, when he was 30 years old. He was arrested by the Gestapo, beaten and forced into a small closet where he though he would suffocate.

He was then sent to concentration camps. He stayed the longest in Natzweiler in the mountains of Alsace. Nearly half of its 52,000 prisoners died due to forced labour, malnutrition, illness and execution.

Natzweiler was the first concentration camp in western Europe to be discovered by the Allies - but the camp was empty, its prisoners had already been taken to Dachau by then.

"Pahor's harrowing descriptions are illustrated with remarkable drawings by fellow prisoners, creating a unique record of conditions in the Nazi death camps. His testimony, along with details from a shocking report into the camp by British intelligence officer Captain Yurka Galitzine and the chilling testimony by SS commandant Josef Kramer, infamous as the Beast of Belsen, combine to tell an extraordinary story," according to the BBC.

Pahor also mentions a section from his best-known book Necropolis about his return to the camp site 20 years after its liberation to find a luxury ski resort there and tourists who knew nothing of the place's past.

Sections of Pahor's books are read out in the documentary aired 75 years after the allies first discovered the horrors of Holocaust by breaking into Natzweiler shortly after the departure of Nazis.

Although the documentary was aired late in the evening, many watched it, and shared their observations on social networks.

It also obviously prompted many to read Necropolis, as Amazon ran out of copies almost immediately.

The documentary will be available on BBC's website the entire month, but only in the UK.

mab/sm
© STA, 2019