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Nine Suitcases: A Memoir

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  180 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Suppressed by the Communists for nearly forty years and never before published in English, Nine Suitcases is one of the first—and greatest—memoirs of the Holocaust ever written. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the harrowing story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives not ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Schocken (first published 1946)
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Near the beginning of Nine Suitcases, Béla Zsolt recalls meeting some Jewish prostitutes from a Nazi ‘field brothel’ beside a railway track in Poland. One girl asks him and his companions if they’re Jews: “You’re going to kick the bucket like us,” she warns them. Zsolt goes on:

Another girl, in the last stages of pregnancy, who was carrying some mouldy bread in a music case, asked us: ‘Have you got any German books? I’ve just finished what I had today. I’ve got a few days left to read a new one i
I don't know if I'd call this one of the greatest Holocaust memoirs like it says on the cover blurb, but it is good, and it is significant because it's definitely one of the earliest memoirs. It was originally published in serial form in 1946, only a year after the war ended, but it was suppressed by the Communists and languished in obscurity after that. It wasn't translated into English until recently.

The author, Bela Zsolt, was the stepfather of the famous teen Holocaust diarist Eva Heyman, wh
The bravery of this man. It's near impossible to comprehend how he was able to devote his life to the betterment of his beloved country and suffer such horrors as compensation. He didn't even make it to the camps, you know. He didn't need to in order to endure the worst of the atrocities that WWII had to offer to mankind. And then he was able to recount it in the most minute detail, but wasn't able to finish writing it. The irony of it all is sickening. People should be grateful that he went thr ...more
Miss GP
I'm not sure why I've never heard of this author or his works. Nine Suitcases: A Memoir is every bit as heart-breaking, horrific and important as the works of Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Primo Levy. It's nothing short of amazing, and perhaps the best written account out there of what it was like to be a Hungarian Jew during WWII (without doubt the best I've encountered). If you have any interest at all in Holocaust literature, you really need to get a copy of this book. I don't generally ...more
Katie Beeman
One of the most moving books I have read because of its unfiltered honesty of the holocaust. It isn't pretty, touching, or inspiring, it is merely an account of human evil. I must read because of its significance to our world and understanding our past. It isn't warm and fuzzy account, and the things that happened are so horrifying because you know they are real. Very eye openning and somewhat disturbing.
Kelly Mahaney
This was a great book on the Holocaust, one of the best I have ever read. Originally published in Hungary in weekly installments starting in 1946, it tells the story of Béla Zsolt’s experiences in the ghetto and as a forced laborer in the Ukraine. It gives one a look at Hungarian fascism and also a shocking expose to the cruelty, indifference, selfishness, cowardice and betrayal of which human beings—the victims no less than the perpetrators—are capable in extreme circumstances. This was what ma ...more
Susan Emmet
Finished this remarkable book.
Don't know where I found it, but it turned up in our library while I was culling books to give away.
Struck by the detailing, the indictment of victims and perpetrators.
I've never read anything in Holocaust rememberings like this book.
Unlike his and his wife Agnes' families, Zsolt avoided Auschwitz, but suffered immeasurably in his Hungarian ghetto and in the Ukraine where he was deported to forced labor as a gravedigger. He was tortured, starved and sick, but surviv
Written closely on the tail of WWII, this Hungarian Jew, was an author and social critic/activist (as best as I can tell), and was more passionate about social issues than his Judaism or the Jewish community (see pp 274-275, for example). But those things combined made him even more of a target as Hungary was pulled more closely into the insanity of Nazi Germany.

The book begins with his incarceration in a Jewish ghetto as the eager Hungarians (efficiently aided by the Germans) annihilate the Hun
Tress Huntley
A second reading felt necessary after finishing The Invisible Bridge. Words don't suffice for how frightening and honest this is. The worst thing about it is it's true. Should be required reading.
Neuf valises est un témoignage poignant d'un journaliste hongrois sur ce qu'il a vécu de l'holocauste lors de la 2ème guerre mondiale. D'abord publié en feuilletons dans un journal, son histoire est dans ce livre regroupé.

Il y évoque sa vie de tourmente pendant la guerre, fossoyeur forcé en Ukraine puis déporté dans un ghetto, il vie toutes les abominations de l'occupation d'un pays, son pays, la Hongrie.

C'est un témoignage très réaliste, à ne pas laisser dans les mains des âmes sensibles, mais
El Holocausto visto por el gran escritor húngaro Béla Zsolt. Es un testimonio literario y humano estremecedor que relata los días en el gueto de Nagyvarad, Hungría (hoy Oradea, Rumania), los dramas que vio durante la WW2, sus torturas y persecuciones.
Zsolt viaja de Budapest a París junto a su esposa y 9 maletas, tras su regreso es deportado y enviado a trabajar en un campo esclavo en el frente oriental, confinado en un gueto y enviado a un campo e concentración hasta su liberación por las tropa
Mar 29, 2015 Margi rated it 3 of 5 stars
This account was suppressed by the Communists for forty years. . It was originally published in installments in Hungary starting in 1946. I did find it interesting in the fact that it was Hungary and the Ukraine which I have not read about before. Mr. Zsolt's story is very compelling and his strength is most definitely unbelievable. His endurance and will to survive is amazing. The atrocities this gentleman faced are beyond comprehension. I loved the references to the Nine Suitcases and what the ...more
Very revealing about WWII anti-Semitism and persecution in Europe. Bit of a difficult read as he jumps back and forth in time & topic as in a casual conversation. There are few people to like in this book. He is irreverent & a realist in the negative sense. All that said, it is well worth the read.
This is a soul-crushingly painful read on the dark depths of humanity in the face of war. Blunt and clearly written, Zsolt puts the reader in his shoes effortlessly and makes you thankful that you can easily close the book and NOT have experienced the atrosities occuring within the pages. Be prepared to read something lighthearted after this one.
Larissa Huhn
I only dislike this so much because it isn't so much about the Holocaust as it is the author's thoughts on the war. I greatly dislike books that are contemplating "the-meaning-of-life-type-thing". Too poetic. But if you're a philosopher, than this is the book for you!
stark and bitter.
Zsolt's Nine Suitcases is excellent - Zsolt writes beautifully & does not pull any punches. He gives us a window into what it took to survive Nazi occupation, the grim reality of the sacrifices that people had to make. The recounting of people trying to escape, succeeding & then returning to the Nazis was terrifying.
Sharon Peters
I really enjoyed this book.I felt it was a different twist to typical books on the holocaust. So sad for the Jews who suffered so much.
I must have missed something in this book. A whiny man blaming the "Nine Suitcases" that his wife insisted on bringing for his fate.
I struggled with the beginning of this book. I found it hard to read, but overall it was just okay.
I thought this was a good read, but it was really hard to get through, for some reason.
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Nov 30, 2015
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Béla Zsolt was the Hungarian author of one of the earliest Holocaust memoirs, Nine Suitcases (Kilenc koffer in Hungarian) translated into English by Ladislaus Lob.
He wrote seven novels and three other works including one volume of poetry.

Before the First World War and whilst still a young man, Zsolt was already considered an outstanding representative of the Hungarian Decadence movement. In the tu
More about Béla Zsolt...

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“To hell with ideas—if people always did what, on careful consideration, was in their most selfish interest, there would be nothing with the world, there would be nothing wrong with the world. Who wants to die and starve? Nobody. If people weren’t driven crazy by ideas and their God, nobody would, for instance, go to war in order to starve and to die a beastly death.” 5 likes
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