The Weekend Magazine of the Guardian’s 14 January 2017 issue had an interview with six Holocaust survivors, including Peter Lantos; each accompanied by portraits from Harry Boden’s book, Survivor published by Cassell. The beautifully produced book, with a forward by Howard Jacobson is a collection of 102 portraits, each accompanied by a few sentences written by the subject in their own handwriting and complemented by brief biographies at the end. Harry is an internationally known portrait photographer who worked on this project for years and the result is moving; uplifting rather than depressing. The Guardian
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After having been in New South Wales in Australia twice, including the Sydney Literary Festival, I am happy to report that Parallel Lines goes to South Wales, UK. I was invited by Helen Harman to Newbridge in South Wales. At the Newbridge Memo on Friday, 3 February 2017 I will meet the Reading Group in the Library in the afternoon, and I will talk to an audience in the evening (See: www.newbridgememo.co.uk.).
In the spring of 1945, the Ministry of Information in London asked Sydney Bernstein (who later founded ITV) to make a documentary film about the liberation of concentration camps. The project started with Bergen-Belsen, the camp liberated by the British Army in April 1945, but soon became a larger project to involve concentration camps liberated by the Americans and Soviets. Bernstein asked his friend Alfred Hitchcock to advise; he duly arrived and although did not direct the film, he contributed substantially with excellent ideas. By the time the film was nearing its completion, the Allies’ priorities changed: instead of confronting the Germans with the atrocities they had committed, the priority became to get them on the side of the Allies in what was becoming the Cold War. For this reason the film was shelved for 70 years in the Imperial War Museum (IWM). It was not until recently that the film, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was restored and the last unfinished reel completed under the direction of Dr Toby Haggith, Senior Curator of the IWM (www.iwm.org.uk). Not only the list of the takes, but also the script, written by Richard Crossman and Colin Wills have survived.
The original film was complemented by an 7-8 minute introduction, explaining the eventful history of the documentary and an “epilogue” in which experts, historians, curators, psychologists, archivists and filmmakers talk about their opinions, the restoration of the film and its significance. As a survivor I was asked to comment on the film. German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was projected on several occasions in the British Film Institute (BFI), including the London Film Festival and will be distributed by the BFI (www.bfi.or.uk). As part of this development, the script is being translated into foreign languages, and I was asked to prepare the Hungarian translation. This has been delivered to the BFI before Christmas.
To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a successful rehearsed reading of Distorting Mirrors, Peter’s second play was held in the Hungarian Cultural Centre (www.hungary.org.uk), Covent Garden, London on 24 October 2016. The occasion was timely since the background of the play is the heroic and tragic Uprising in October 1956 when, for ten brief days, everything seemed possible – even that the country could become free of Communism. The actors, Sarah Berger, Simon Cleaves, Simon Cole, Sean Baker and Jessica Claire were marvellous, and the director, Dave Spencer made the audience believe that they were watching not a reading but a full production. What we need now is funding for a stage production!
The second half of 2017 will see the German translation of Parallel Lines, the third foreign language after Hungarian and Italian. It will be published by Wallstein, a well-known reputable house.