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The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft

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Poland, 1941. Sixteen-year-old Harry Haft is sent to Auschwitz. When he is forced to fight against other inmates for the amusement of the SS officers, Haft shows extraordinary strength and courage, and a determination to survive. As the Soviet Army advances in April 1945, he makes a daring escape from the Nazis. After negotiating the turmoil of postwar Poland, Haft immigrates to the United States and establishes himself as a professional prizefighter, remaining undefeated until he faces heavy­weight champion Rocky Marciano in 1949. In The Boxer, Reinhard Kleist reveals another side to the steely Harry Haft: a man struggling to escape the memories of the fiancée he left behind in Poland. This is a powerful and moving graphic novel about love and the will to survive.

200 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Reinhard Kleist

29 books92 followers
Born in 1970 near Cologne.

After school he had an internship at printing and publishing Landpress in Weilerswist Studium at the College of Visual Arts in Münster. There the albums "Lovecraft", "Dorian" and "adventure of a switchman" were created.

After graduation in 1996 he moved to Berlin.
where he worked in a studio. For some years he did workshops, lectures and exhibitions in countries like Mexico, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Jordan, Algeria, Spain, Canada and others, at the invitation of the Goethe Institute or my foreign publishers.

In December 2013, as part of a project for ARTE, he was in a refugee camp in northern Iraq where he I did interviews with Syrian refugees. He did a lot of sketches, and did two workshops with children. The results and photos from the workshop can be seen at ARTE Refugees

In 2011 his comic strip "The Boxer" was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which was published in May 2012 in a revised version as a book by Carlsen Verlag.

In 2015, "The Dream of Olympia", the story of Samia Yusuf Omar, was published by Carlsen Verlag and in 2016 was awarded the "Annual Lynx" and the Catholic Children and Youth Book Prize.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 147 reviews
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
April 27, 2022
I recall this review as I see the story of Harry Haft is the basis of a film, The Survivor, directed by Barry Levinson and featuring an emaciated Ben Foster.

Read Sam Quixote's fine review for more about the book, but it is a terrific story, also horrific, in the way of great Holocaust survivor narratives. This one stands with Maus as one of the great ones, surely. The art is, I think, a kind of tribute to Will Eisner, who also told hard scrabble, working-class Jewish stories. Black and white, clean lines, superbly done. This one we didn't know about because Harry Haft waited til 2006, 60 years after WWII, to tell his life story to his son (who also wrote a book based on the story)! 60 years!!! But now, whew, we have it, the story of one (of many) who were forced to entertain the Nazis in the concentration camps, and in Roman gladiator fashion, were forced to fight, wherein the vanquished were "never heard of again."

Haft, who had no experience in boxing but was given tips by an unlikely SSS benefactor who liked his toughness, fought and won fight after fight and tried not to think of what happened to the others he defeated. I can't recount the story here, too many spoilers, but Haft spent 4 years in the camps, survived one of the infamous death marches, always thinking of his family and a fiancee, Leah, he had left behind when he was taken to the camps. He survived the camps and made it to the America to so something he never wanted to do again, since it was the basis for a horrific Nazi game, but box again he did; he'd even fought Rocky Marciano, which we are to understand was his last fight.

Okay, that's enough about the plot. But Haft is also not a nice guy, so the story isn't romanticized in any way. He is tough, and had to do terrible things and witness terrible things in the process of surviving. It's ugly and horrific and all too familiar in some respects. But it is also a story with much to admire about it, and complications that make it more interesting. It's followed by a fine essay by Martin Krauss, "Boxing in Concentration Camps" which helps you learn more about this sadistic practice. I think it could be used as a YA text in a study of WWII, the Holocaust, genocide, as a companion text. Or with Maus or any other text on the Holocaust. This one is a classic, a must read! One of my favorite books this year, for sure, and very moving.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,420 followers
April 24, 2021
This black-and-white graphic novel tells the brutal, harrowing, and moving story of Harry Haft. Haft was a Jewish Holocaust survivor, who used everything from his brawn to his acute mind for business to survive the series of harrowing ordeals he had to face, whilst still in his late teens and residing in a Nazi-occupied Germany.

I did not think I would gel so well with such a limited colour pallet, but soon became absorbed in the story and overcome with the horrors it exposed. I was also easily able to differentiate characters, despite the somewhat sketchy style used to depict them.

This was an entirely painful read throughout, but also a very informative one. It provided the reader with the human face of war. Haft was used to stand in for an entire historical period that was too atrocious to ever fully grasp when gazed upon with anything but this minute focus on the individual attempting to survive through it.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,484 reviews12.8k followers
March 8, 2014
World War 2 contained some of the most extraordinary stories in human history. The conflict encompassed so much of our planet and involved so many people that 70 years later it’s possible to still discover new and stunning stories about people from that time. One of those people is Hertzko “Harry” Haft, a Polish Jew, who at 16 was sent to Auschwitz in 1941. He was one of the few who survived and inexplicably during his time there got his start in a career that would make him famous in America after the war: boxing.

During his time at Auschwitz, an SS officer noticed Haft’s strength and toughness and made him take part in life or death boxing matches for the SS’s entertainment. Haft was put in a makeshift ring and forced to fight up to 20 nearly dead fellow prisoners at a time who were then executed after being beaten; if Haft lost, he would be executed.

Somehow Haft managed to survive these numerous trials and, in the closing stages of the war, during a retreat from the advancing Allied armies, he was able to break free of the death march and escape. He was picked up by some American GIs and, shortly after the war ended, was able to emigrate to America where he decided to become a professional boxer. His career would peak in 1949 when he fought Rocky Marciano, but threw the fight due to pressure from Marciano’s mob connections who told him they’d kill him if he beat the future heavyweight champion.

But underneath it all, what kept Haft going through everything was the love of his fiancée Leah whom he didn’t see for years once the Nazis took him prisoner. The only thing he knew about her was that she’d left Europe and was probably in America. His prime motivation for becoming a famous boxer was in the hope that she’d see his picture in the paper and contact him so they could be reunited and married. And though they finally met many years later in Florida, long after both had married other people and started families of their own, the experience was bittersweet as he found her dying of cancer. But they did meet again.

Haft’s incredible story was told to his son, Alan, decades after all of this happened in his book “Harry Haft: Auschwitz Survivor, Challenger of Rocky Marciano” which was adapted into this graphic novel by Reinhard Kleist. And it’s a truly incredible story filled with so many shocking moments. When Haft makes a break for freedom from the death march, his companion is shot and killed and falls on him. The Nazis – luckily in a hurry – declare both dead and move on. When Haft picks himself up and moves on, he kills an SS officer bathing in a nearby river and takes his outfit. He’s taken in by an elderly German couple believing he’s a Nazi officer until they realise he’s not and attempt to alert the Nazis - Haft has to kill them both to survive.

The passages in Auschwitz are of course the bleakest. Kleist draws the book in black and white, using inks to great effect, like in the passages where Haft is shovelling corpses into the giant ovens. Those panels are so dark, both literally and figuratively, and so brutally depicted, it’s hard to read. To think Haft was a kid forced to do these horrible things goes some way to understanding his desperate actions to escape the Nazis and his distant and troubled state of mind for the rest of his life.

Like when he’s boxing professionally in America, Kleist shows moments in the ring when Haft flashes back to Auschwitz and he’s seeing emaciated Jewish prisoners coming at him instead of professional boxers. Those memories were a part of what drove him in his fights and what haunted him in his life. Haft’s nightmarish experiences don’t excuse the physical abuse and hair-trigger temper his family had to endure after he’d left boxing behind but it goes some way to understanding how he became the hard man he was.

The Boxer is a difficult book to read but only because of the subject matter - it is written and drawn beautifully. Kleist doesn’t shy away from the horrors of the concentration camp where skeletal prisoners would murder and eat fellow prisoners in the night to stave away the hunger pangs and the blase savagery with which the Nazis showed to the Jews. Kleist’s writing is perfectly measured, knowing when to narrate events to the reader, how to let the dialogue in a scene tell you about the characters, and when to say nothing at all and let the pictures play out everything you need to know.

The book is drawn in remarkably black and white inks and Kleist’s ability to perfectly capture characters’ facial expressions is uncanny. Kleist’s strong narrative sense of how to build up an emotional scene is evident in Haft’s final fight against Marciano as the panels flash from the present to the past: the fight in the present to the memories of the laughing SS officers, the German Shepherds savagely barking, the looming threat of death if he lost - it’s an extremely powerful moment. As is in the final scene between Haft and his son Alan, when Haft breaks down, gets out of the car and stands away from his son crying and smoking, cars driving by them on the highway showing how Haft’s unable to move forward with his life compared to the rest of the world and the inability he had to be close to others.

The Boxer is a book that will leave you emotionally drained by the end but is a work of art everyone who enjoys literature should read. Books that provoke strong reactions like this should never be missed, whether the subject matter is hard to see at times or not - it’s written and drawn too well to deny. Reinhard Kleist has created a true masterpiece in The Boxer which is sure to be a future classic of the genre, up there with Maus as a celebrated and essential graphic novel about World War 2.
Profile Image for George K..
2,367 reviews292 followers
February 2, 2018
Μετά από ένα χρόνο και βάλε που κυκλοφορεί στα ελληνικά το "Ο μποξέρ", αποφάσισα επιτέλους να το αγοράσω σήμερα και, τελικά, να το διαβάσω. Είναι η τρίτη μου επαφή με το έργο του Reinhard Kleist, μετά το "Κάστρο" που διάβασα το 2011 (κάποια στιγμή πρέπει να το ξαναδιαβάσω) και το "Αβάνα" που διάβασα το 2016, και μπορώ να πω ότι είναι το καλύτερο από τα τρία.

Η όλη ιστορία του Χέρτζκο Χαφτ είναι πραγματικά πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα και συναρπαστική, αν και φυσικά οδυνηρή και σκληρή. Η παρουσίαση της ζωής του συγκεκριμένου μποξέρ, είναι αν μη τι άλλο ικανοποιητικά και ρεαλιστικά δοσμένη. Ίσως το σενάριο να μην ξεφεύγει από την πεπατημένη και από διάφορα κλισέ του είδους, όμως προσφέρει δυνατές εικόνες και συναισθήματα, και κρατάει το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος. Όσον αφορά το σχέδιο του Kleist, το μόνο σίγουρο είναι ότι δεν ταιριάζει με όλα τα γούστα: Άλλοι μπορεί να το βρουν βαρετό, άλλοι ίσως αδιάφορο, κάποιοι τρίτοι ίσως ακόμα και πρόχειρο, προσωπικά όμως εμένα μου αρέσει σε μεγάλο βαθμό. Δεν με ξετρελαίνει κιόλας, αλλά κάτι στις γραμμές, κάτι στο χρώμα, κάτι στα διάφορα καρέ, μου αρέσει και με ικανοποιεί. Είναι οπωσδήποτε λειτουργικό και κάνει μια χαρά τη δουλειά του.

Γενικά είμαι πολύ ικανοποιημένος από το συγκεκριμένο κόμικ, τόσο από το σενάριο όσο και από το σχέδιο. Επίσης η έκδοση είναι πολύ ωραία και προσεγμένη, με ένα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον άρθρο για την πυγμαχία στα στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης. Αν σκεφτεί κανείς ότι όλα κι όλα μου κόστισε εννιά ευρώ, η αγορά κρίνεται πλήρως επιτυχημένη.
Profile Image for Sweetdhee.
488 reviews115 followers
February 4, 2016
i, uhm... how to say this, yah?

There had been so many conspiracy theory about The Holocaust.
I somehow manage to read some books about it and still can not figure out what actually happen behind the incidents.

All the books are always about human.

How can you believe...
i'm still trying to get myself back if i remember the scene of canibalism in this book.

Hertzko "Harry" Haft tertangkap dan terpaksa pindah dari satu kamp konsentrasi ke kamp konsentrasi lain.
Berbagai cara ia lakukan untuk bertahan hidup.
Ada saat ia bertemu teman sekampung di Belchatow dan melihat Mischa, si teman tersebut, tak ubahnya seperti anjing penjilat bagi tentara Jerman. Mischa menjadi mandor dan melupakan teman-temannya, berperilaku tak kalah kejam dengan para pengawas dari Jerman. Harry sempat menyumpah serapah atas kelakuan Mischa.
Tapi tak lama, ia juga pelan-pelan mendekati penjaga kamp dan diperlakukan berbeda.
Harry tahu, itu satu-satunya cara untuk bertahan hidup.

Hingga salah satu penjaga memintanya bertarung tinju. Melawan siapa?
Teman-teman sesama tawanan.
Dengan tubuh yang sama cekingnya.
Dengan harapan hidup yang sama tipisnya.
Harry bisa berbuat apa jika satu-satunya cara agar ia tetap hidup adalah dengan melumpuhkan lawan bertinjunya?

Yang ada di benak Harry, ia harus bisa keluar dari kamp hidup-hidup dan mencari Leah, kekasihnya.
Harry memang berhasil kabur. Ia berhasil memulai kehidupan baru, meski belum bertemu dengan Leah.

Yang membuat saya trenyuh, ketika Harry akhirnya mengetahui fakta tentang Leah.
Yang membuat saya muak, betapa Amerika digambarkan sebagai negara impian.
Yang membuat saya menutup buku dengan perasaan tak keruan, ketidakpahaman akan motivasi di balik begitu banyak kekejaman serupa dengan yang ada di buku ini.

oh, human...
Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 5 books863 followers
November 23, 2015
Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

Here in the post-colonial democratic West, bastion of liberty and freedom and justice for all, the human identity is derived by one of three formulae. An American will be a product of either a) the decisions and circumstances of their past, b) the actions and position of the present, or c) the person one hopes to be in the near or distant future. Other cultures may offer additional options—an identity might, for instance, be derived from the community rather than the individual—but parcel and part to the American dream is the demand that we narrowly define ourselves according to the true and tried pieces and bits of the three basic tenses.

It’s a struggle through which we move from pessimist to pragmatist to idealist even as our outlook shifts from past to present to future. And of course it’s not always a progression. Some of us will remain wholly enveloped in nostalgia, the essentially pessimistic view of the world that looks to the past for identity rather than engage the present or hope for the future. Others will embrace the identity of the moment, a wholly utilitarian device for exercising immediate control over one’s person and outlook—often in the guise of realism. The third group of us looks, fingers-crossed, forward to the us that we strive to be (or at least presume to hope to be), and rest our identity in that hypothetical us that may never come to be.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

Harry “Herschel” Haft ping-pongs a bit between the three options, but—as we might expect from a survivor of the Third Reich’s death camps—the once-smuggler, then-boxer, then-grocer spends significant portions of his life being identified by his past. Even as he prepares to disembark onto American shores for the first time, Harry is overwhelmed by turbulent visions from his time in front of Nazi ovens. Inconspicuous moments are haunted by the memories from which his own personal history snakes out to grip him by the throat, offering both paralysis and catalyst. This is Harry at his most American. Occasionally spurred by a kind of romanticism and glimpsing a self he hoped to one day inhabit, Harry throws himself into his boxing—all to the end of finding again the love of his life and making true the faery tale. Only by beating and clawing at the lives of others will he be positioned to take on the identity he dreams for himself. This is Harry at his most American. Finally, the boxer surrenders his dreams to what he imagines must be reality. He takes up a new daily struggle and throws himself into the most immediate of concerns: food, shelter, companionship, progeny. His dreams no longer control him, his past no longer commands him. He is wholly devoted to the now. This is Harry at his most American.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

Though of course it isn’t all so simple as that. Even while Harry is who he is in the present, he cannot shake the ghost of the past—ghosts that twist his dreams for the future. The former boxer is harried by the life he once hoped to live and those dreams built of a busted prescience only work to diminish the identity he finally settles into. He’s a man torn at by invented creatures beyond his control, and he is weak in the face of them. Yet simultaneously, this man—this boxer—is full of spit and fire and fight. And that’s actually where half the wonder of Kleist’s work resides.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

You may as well discover my filthy secret now. I go out of my way to avoid Holocaust narrative. It’s not so much that I pretend that so many Jews, Romani, handicapped, and poor didn’t die all because a nation of people couldn’t any longer imagine itself to be poor and so would rather light the world afire, grabbing what they could in the chaos. That’s not what it is at all. It’s more just that I’ve been devastated by the story already. Over and over again. It was an important component in my public school education. We read books, heard stories, saw pictures, and met survivors. I’ve read Maus, seen Life Is Beautiful, read Anne Frank and Eli Wiesel, and seen Schindler’s List and Judgment at Nuremberg and The Hiding Place. I have been properly horrified over and over again. By the end of junior high, I never wanted to study the subject again—I was full up. And yet, I was returned to the Holocaust over and over. There’s only so much bludgeoning one can take before one’s heart begins to curdle. So I don’t seek out Holocaust stories anymore and, often, if I’m aware that’s what a direction will get me, I will choose a different path.[1]

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

When I bought The Boxer I didn’t know its relation to WWII or the Holocaust.[2] When it arrived, I saw the concentration camp on the cover and dejectedly let the book sit on the mail pile for a week. At last though (obviously) I resolved to give the book a shot at weaning me from my terror. And Harry Haft succeeded. Wildly, too.

The difference is one of spirit. The Holocaust tale is one of broken hearts and spirits, of human persons reduced to walking ghosts. It’s terror after terror and it breaks everyone, rendering them into the soulless. Beyond even the deaths and murders and rapes and incinerations and gassings, probably the thing that devastates me so entirely is the iron work of destruction the Nazi machine wreaks on the souls of their victims in these stories. Perfectly believable, sure; yet not something I want to see more than a handful of times. Haft, however, is a pugilist. And even if he isn’t yet a boxer when he gets dragged to the camps, he’s born a fighter. He’s got spirit and its nigh unquenchable. The Nazis will go to great lengths to diminish Haft, to strip him of his inner fire; they will essentially destroy him and ruin him for all time. But it will take something greater than Hitler’s mania to turn Haft into the living dead. Because he fights and fights and fights.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

Even when he establishes himself in the US boxing circuit, Haft makes certain his boxing trunks are decorated with a Star of David. This could easily be seen wholly as a redemption and repurposement of the star that was used to damn the Jews not even a decade earlier, but there’s more to it than just that. The five-pointed pentagram, associated with Daivd’s royal son, is called the Star of Solomon; it’s the hexagram that is David’s star. And while both kings, Solomon and David, carry their measure of historical fame in the Jewish mythos, David was the warrior—so bloody-handed and vicious in battle that he was forbidden from building a temple for Yahweh by Yahweh himself. Solomon’s reign, on the other hand, was marked by peace, prosperity, and leisure. Solomon’s star could never suit Haft for Harry is every bit the tortured warrior and fighter that King David would have been.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

So when we see in The Boxer's opening pages that Haft is broken and crazy, we are driven to find out why. It’s a perfect opening, especially as Kleist immediately juts back to fourteen-year-old Harry (then named Hertzko), full of piss and fire and life. It’s a fantastic setup and by the time Kleist catches us up again to the Harry Haft revealed in the opening pages, it all clicks. We’re sold entirely on the tragedy and victory of his life. All things have come to resolution and we are satisfied.

Review of The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

I’d never encountered a book by Reinhard Kleist before this week. I’m only a little bit upset at myself for that. Mostly I’m just happy that now I have a nice little bibliography to discover—because I’m definitely interested in exploring more of the man’s work. His art is fluid, organic, and pretty wonderful. He captures Haft so so well at all kinds of ages and in all kinds of conditions. Young teen, twenty-year-old boxer, fifty-year old man, Holocaust-starved teen, distraught, angry, deliriously happy. Under Kleist’s brush Haft always looks like Haft—even when he’s almost entirely another person. Whether past, present, or future, whichever Haft Harry chooses to be in a moment, Kleist makes certain the soul remains bubbling and fighting below the surface, unquenched. It’s a fantastic exercise and Kleist delivers both a Holocaust narrative that has something new to say and a personal history that succeeds in making its hero intriguing without lionizing him.

[Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad.]

1) I was given the opportunity to read Loïc Dauvillier’s graphic novel hidden, and I took one look at these two pages and backed right the heck out of there immediately. I’m sure it’s a wonderful and valuable and important work. But I couldn’t do it. Even these two lone pages crushed me.

2) I also don’t read sports narratives that aren’t written by Mitsuru Adachi, but I’d heard fantastic things about Kleist, so I made an exception.

Profile Image for Mia Prasetya.
400 reviews250 followers
January 29, 2016

Bahkan selesai membaca buku ini, dada saya masih berdegup kencang. Gambarnya sederhana tapi tarikannya yang lugas seakan menegaskan kerasnya kehidupan seorang Harry Haft di kamp. Aushwitz yang bertahan hidup karena keahliannya bertinju. A must read!

Profile Image for Murat.
388 reviews
November 13, 2022
Biyografik grafik romanlarıyla bildiğim, beğendiğim Reinhard Kleist'dan, çok güzel bir eser daha.

Öncelikle karşımızda gerçek ve çarpıcı bir hayat, bir hikaye var. Nazi toplama kamplarında SS subaylarınının eğlencesi için dövüştürülen ve travmalarıyla hayatta kalan, Yahudi boksör Hertzko Haft'ın hikayesi. Kleist bu hayatı çizgilerle oldukça güzel yansıtmış. Zaten oldukça trajik olan hikayeyi; net, direkt ve izlenimci bir bakışla, -mümkünse eğer- ajite etmeden (tdk tanım 3) aktarmış.

Kitabın sonunda, hikaye yanındaki gerçekliği sunmak üzere düşülen notlar var. (Kitabı bitirir bitirmez internetten arattığım ve teyit etmek istediğim, etraflı bilgi almak istediklerim zaten kitabın sonunda yer alıyordu) Yine nasyonal sosyalist toplama kamplarında işkencelere maruz kalmış diğer boksörlerin hayat hikayeleri ve popüler kültürdeki izdüşümleri aktarılmış. Mükemmel olmuş.

Bir de "Kh hob dikh keynmol nit fargesn".. Gözüme bir şey kaçtı..

Profile Image for Антон Меляков.
Author 6 books16 followers
December 22, 2018
Този комикс ми попадна съвсем случайно в книжарницата и много се радвам, че стана така. Страхотна история за един евреин от Полша, попаднал в концлагерите и принуждаван там да се бие за удоволствие на нацистките офицери. В последствие става боксьор в САЩ, където се замесва с местната мафия и прочее. Тежко четиво е новелата, далеч е от съвременните стереотипи за комикс, но си заслужава отвсякъде. Много се надявам да издадат и другите творби на този автор, защото звучат доста интересно.
Profile Image for Emmkay.
1,184 reviews76 followers
February 29, 2020
Very good. Recounts the powerful true (though fictionalized) story of a working class young Jewish man who began boxing in a concentration camp in WW2 at the behest of an SS protector. Hertzko Haft would be put in the ring with an opponent, both there through coercion, and the soldiers and their families would bet on the outcome. Apparently ‘sport’ was not an uncommon feature of the camps. Haft’s story is remarkable, and dark. He moved to the US after the war, and only 60 years later did he share his story with his son, with whom he had a difficult relationship punctuated by his angry outbursts. There’s also a very good afterword about the broader historical picture, including short biographies of many other boxers in the camps. Such a wide swath, ranging from a Tunisian Sephardic Jewish man to a German Sinta man, and such awful experiences.
Profile Image for Metin Yılmaz.
1,001 reviews98 followers
July 27, 2019
Son zamanlarda okuduğum en etkileyici gerçek hayat öykülerinden biriydi. İkinci dünya savaşının korkunç zamanları ve sonrasında bir aşkın soluşunun bu denli güzel anlatımı, çok etkileyiciydi. Reinhard Kleist çizgileri ile eşsiz bir eser olmuş. Es geçilmemesi gereken gerçek hayat öykülerinden biri.

Karakarga bizlere güzel çizgi romanlar sunuyor kendilerine çok teşekkür ederiz. Fakat yazım hataları oldukça fazla. Yeni basımlarda bu hataları düzeltirler umarım.
210 reviews28 followers
May 28, 2019
a graphic novel of a brutal life story told with an unflinching eye. I'm not going to rate someone's memoir, but there were technical issues that made this a somewhat disappointing experience.

I think the graphic novel is a good medium to tell a harrowing story, but the art was very sketched-in in its style, and I sometimes got confused as to who was who as a result. Prose was basic and direct, and after reading Primo Levi it's harder to connect to this sort of straightforward telling of horror. I know that sounds fucking awful, but it's true - Levi has a way of conveying on the written page in a way that engages every fiber of your being, of your heart and your soul and your mind that reels at unspeakable horrors. That's not to say there is no empathy stirred with this tale- you'd have to be dead to not feel - but that in the nature of all humanity, things sometimes grow dim in the repeated telling of them without variance, without something that strikes through the story we've all hurt to read.

Still, what I liked about this is that this dude was a survivor and in that surviving he did awful things and did not flinch away from the telling of them. The boxing scenes, both in the concentration camps and post-WWII, were harrowing in their recollection and added another layer to the horror that is Nazi Germany. The use of the same images to show that Haft was fighting memories, to think of fucking strong he had to be to get in that ring, all in the search of fame to hopefully find his lost love? Haft had such incredible DRIVE.

To survive, to have a light that guides you through and to have that culminate years later in an unexpected and bittersweet way lends the feeling of life imitating art, because it was romantic in the telling of it, despite the horrors before.

This is worth a read, as I feel all stories of humanity truly are, and the graphic style may speak to those that aren't big readers, just don't expect prose that makes you ache.
Profile Image for Martina .
256 reviews38 followers
September 13, 2022
Svojho času, v dobách, keď som doslova fičala na drastických príbehoch nešťastníkov väznených v koncentračných táboroch, mi rukami prešlo nemalé množstvo srdcervúcich svedectiev - o strate blízkych, hrôzostrašných pokusoch či neľudských podmienkach, o nútených prácach, nekonečnom drile i zverstvách, pred ktorými nebolo úniku - a hoci by sa tak mohlo zdať, že ma už ničím nedokážu prekvapiť, opak sa stále ukazuje byť pravdou.

Výnimkou nie je ani Boxer, grafický román svojsky približujúci neľahký príbeh Hertzka Hafta - chlapca, respektíve mladého muža, ktorému obeta v podobe záchrany brata vyslúžila nezávideniahodný lístok priamo do koncentráku. Na miesto, kde sa sužovaný neistotou, strachom o blízkych i túžbou prežiť stal hračkou unudených dozorcov. Zápasníkom - boxerom.

Súboje z donútenia, protivníci na pokraji kolapsu, zvrhlá radosť vojakov pokukujúcich po troške rozptýlenia a následná nedôvera či skeptické pohlady spoluväzňov...

Vďaka Kleistovým znepokojujúcim ilustráciam, mapujúcim nie len Heftov pobyt v koncentračných táboroch, ale i útek a následný život "za veľkou mlákou", ktorý mu vyslúžil povesť profesionálneho boxera, postupne odhaľujeme tak trochu tienistú cestu, po ktorej sa Haft voľky-nevoľky vydal, no i nehynúcu túžbu, ktorú si v sebe po celé tie roky uchoval.

Rany a zúfania, nádeje, straty i sklamania. Uzavretosť, citový chlad či výbuchy agresie.

Boxer je svedectvom i chýbajúcim kúskom histórie, no čo viac, je i obrazom približujúcim daň, ktorú si tragická minulosť vyžiadala. Veľmi dobre spracované
Profile Image for Книжни Криле.
2,891 reviews158 followers
August 9, 2016
„Боксьорът” е едновременно четиво, идеално за истински ценители, и чудесно заглавие, с което да убедите дори и най-големите литературни сноби, че и комиксите също са форма, в която можете да разказвате дълбоки и стойностни сюжети, които по нищо не отстъпват на белетристиката. Прочетете ревюто на "Книжни Криле":
Profile Image for Viktoria.
270 reviews33 followers
April 8, 2013
Die Graphic Novel ist wirklich gut. Ist sehr atmosphärisch und einfach gut gezeichnet.
Erzählt wird die Lebensgeschichte von Hertzko Haft, einem polnischen Juden, der im KZ anfängt zu boxen. Er wird im KZ von einem Aufseher auserwählt, die SS-Offiziere bei Lagerboxkämpfen auf Leben und Tod zu bespaßen. Unglaubliche Geschichte!
Profile Image for Emily.
1,735 reviews37 followers
August 31, 2014
Not for me. I can appreciate why the story was told, and the artist portrayed it very well in black and white.
But I didn't like reading about this man and the choices he made and the ones he was forced into.

Profile Image for Arlene♡.
458 reviews103 followers
November 19, 2017
I had never heard to Harry Haft, but I'm glad I read his story. Harry, then known as Hertzko Haft, was 16 years old on the eve of his wedding when he inadvertently took the place of his older brother in line when the Nazi had occupied his town of Belchatow, Poland in 1939. The Nazi where setting up "registrations" tables but it got to Hertzko that he would never see his brother again, he ran to him made a distraction and was taken instead. From then on it's a story of survival for Haft, where he is taken place to place in cattle cars and it's not until he is assigned to Canada Commando and he meets a German SS man by the name of Schneider who tells Haft that to save him, he must do as he says and becomes a boxer and entertain the officers and soldier that run the camps. We follow his story told by his son Allen from the concentration camps to America where he still boxed in hopes of finding his estranged love, Leah. And I'm very happy to have read it.
Profile Image for Joana.
553 reviews10 followers
August 5, 2017
I had seen an exhibition about this graphic novel a few years ago, but I came into this story without really remembering much - I didn't even remember it was set during the Holocaust. And I was surprisingly amazed by this book, it's definitely on my top favorite comics/graphic novels now, probably my favorite standalone
The art is simple, but incredibly beautiful. And the story was touching and it was really interesting to follow this true portrayal of someone's life - it reminded me at the same time of the graphic novel MAUS and of the movie Cinderella Man, and I really loved both sides of this story
A really powerful story, and one I would definitely recommend
Profile Image for Gineen .
38 reviews
August 5, 2021
devastating, worthwhile, griping sad story, the art is often excellent, in its graphic stark qualities and simplicity and sometimes a little confusing. it was surprising to see the picture of Haft in the appendix of the story, he was movie-star handsome but portrayed as having a very stereotypical ugly beaten boxer mug.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Juan Pablo.
Author 5 books37 followers
September 7, 2018
Hay historias durísimas, de supervivientes, que nos quitan el aliento por lo terrible de la experiencia. Haft sobrevive a los campos de concentración y a la vida de inmigrante sin un duro en Nueva York a base de golpes.
Profile Image for Yusuf.
230 reviews28 followers
November 11, 2022
Ağır bir konuyu sürükleyici bir şekilde işleyen bir grafik roman. Kampların ve soykırımın çok bilinmeyen ve akla gelmeyen bir yönüne ışık tutuyor. Bu tür unutulmuş meselelere odaklanan kitapları çok seviyorum, hele bir de grafik romansa...
Profile Image for Lukáš Pokorný.
65 reviews41 followers
January 18, 2016
Ne, nebudu se rozplývat jen proto, že holokaust je silná tématika a já bych měl cítit s lidmi, co ho prožili. Haftův příběh je rozhodně zajímavý, politováníhodný, ale zpracování mi nesedí. Zaprvé přímočarost, kterou si autor na konci obhajuje, vám nedává naprosto žádný prostor nahlédnout do nitra hlavní postavy.
Vlastně jen vidíte z pohledu třetí osoby, co se kolem Hafta děje a občas si přečtete něco o tom, jak musí jít dál, aby se shledal se svou milovanou. Žádné vnitřní pocity z různých situací, jen místy slabé pokusy. Strašně mělké na to, abych se s postavou sžil (výjimku tu ale tvoří scéna, kdy se Haft zhroutí ve spalovně, ta má opravdu sílu).
Za druhé mi ta přímost místa přišla až podezřelá. Jakoby tam autor/vypravěč něco vynechal. Události neprobíhají s uvěřitelnou plynulostí, ale spíše podivnými skoky. Tím rozhodně nechci říct, že pokud by Haft udělal v koncentráku něco nemorálního, aby si zachránil krk, že bych ho odsoudil. Naopak bych raději viděl příběh takový, jaký skutečně byl, a spojil si ho se skutečnou lidskou bytostí v bezvýchodné situaci. Takhle mi to trochu připomínalo sterilního panáčka, co postupuje úrovněmi nějaké videohry.
Nelze vydat komiks o holokaustu a nepočítat s tím, že vás budou srovnávat s Mausem. Bohužel, proti Spiegelmanově mistrovskému dílu je Boxer jen slabý odvar. Je tam vidět neosobní zaujetí autora komiksové adaptace, díky čemuž tam chyběly emoce. Nemůžete se spoléhat na to, že jen zmíníte Druhou světovou válku a koncentrační tábory a čtenáři si začnou kousat nehty. Na tuto tématiku toho už bylo zpracováno tolik, že příběhy musí nést autentickou emotivní stopu, a nebýt pouze sterilním převyprávěním cizí knížky.
Profile Image for Alicia.
5,883 reviews119 followers
March 3, 2016
The measured way the graphic novel unfolds feels slow, but reflecting on it, it's methodical, revealing the pain of Haft's experience. A Polish Jew who was brought to camps to do forced labor and death marches before being used as entertainment for SS guards endured so much over his life. After seeing the torture and pain, he was cursed with thankfulness and equally disgusted by his actions. In order to curry favor with an SS guard who gave him some extra rations, he began to box in the camps, fighting against skin and bones' men (though he was not much better).

In an escape attempt he was able to save himself, escaping death several times over, before landing in America to try to make a living as a boxer that was successful only to a point. All the while, he longed for his love, Leah, who he wanted to believe was alive but didn't know where she had ended up. .

The narrative at the end of the story helps put everything into perspective while the sketching for the graphic novel showcase the grit of the story and Haft. Thankful to have this Holocaust story.
Profile Image for Kamil.
153 reviews
August 11, 2019
Tatilde bir yandan Upton Sinclair ' in " Petrol" ünü okurken, bir yandan da çizgi romanlara devam.
Dün okuduğum "Boksör", Reinhard Kleist' ın eseri. Bana, daha önce paylaştığım Art Spiegelman' ın " Maus" unu da anımsattı biraz en başlarda. İkisinde de Nazi toplama kamplarından sağ kurtulmayı başaran insanların çok uzun zaman sonra oğullarına anlattıkları öykülerden yola çıkarak oluşturulmuş grafik romanlar söz konusu.
Boksör, adından da anlaşıldığı gibi hayatını boksla kazanan bir insanın öyküsü, ama burada gerçekten de hayat mevzu bahis. Nazi işgalinden sonra çeşitli toplama kamplarında esir edilen Hertzko Haft' ın gerçek hikayesi. Ağır koşullar altında bazı tesadüfler sonucu kamplarda her hafta yapılan boks maçlarına çıkmaya başlıyor Haft. Öyle ki, yenilenin büyük ihtimalle öldürüldüğü, ortada yüklü miktarda bahislerin döndüğü, muhafızların ve SS subaylarının eğlenmesi için düzenlenen vahşi müsabakalar bunlar. Haft, bu inanılmaz zorlu koşullardan kurtulmayı başarıp savaş sonrası Amerika' ya yerleşerek orada da boksta şansını deniyor. Ancak 40' lı yılların sonundaki Amerika' da bu sefer de boks mafyasının ortasında buluyor kendini. Kitabın sonunda toplama kamplarında tutulan ve çoğu orada ölen boksörlerin de kısa öyküleri var.
Kleist' in Küba, Castro ile ilgili de grafik romanları mevcut. Yakında onlara da sıra gelir diye düşünüyorum. Herkese keyifli okumalar.
Profile Image for Teguh.
Author 8 books264 followers
December 23, 2015
Novel ini sungguh menghibur sekaligus mencengangkan. Bagaimana tidak, keindahan grafis komik justru mengisahkan pedihnya penderitaan di kamp NAZI. Kisah ini bermuara pada petinju bernama Harry Haft atau Hertzko Haft, warga Polandia keturunan Yahudi yang terjebak dalam kamp, karena ingin menyelamatkan kakaknya.

Harry Haft, dikisahkan menjadi petinju untuk menghibur perwira-perwira SS. (Dan ternyata tinju dan sepakbola adalah kegemaran para perwira selama di kamp SS). Namun, meski pernah menjadi juara Gelaran Tinju Yahudi, Harry Haft tetap tidak bisa lepas dari penderitaan 'kerja paksa' Nazi. Puncaknya ketika, Uni Soviet menyerang, Harry Haft berhasil kabur dan kemudian bermigrasi ke Amerika. Di sanalah, Harry Haft menjadi petinju profesional dan mencoba mencari Leah, cinta pertamanya yang konon hijrah ke Amerika.

Kisah serupa ternyata juga dialami para petinju profesional, yang terjebak dan kemudian menjai bahan tontonan para Perwira SS di kamp. Dan yang lebih mengerikan, digambarkan bagaimana kurusnya par atahanan, siksaan, bahkan beberapa adegan kanibalisme juga ada.

Terimakaish, sudah memberi bacaan yang keren
Profile Image for Христо Блажев.
2,206 reviews1,421 followers
July 26, 2014
Победа или смърт: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/b...

Райнхард Клайст е взел една смазваща истинска история, изпълнена с болка, ужас и отчаяние, и я е илюстрирал по демоничен начин в черно-бели краски. Несмилаемата същност на Endlösung der Judenfrage оживява сред тия страници – нацисти, евреи, концлагери, глад, пещи, гротескни боксови мачове, след които загубилите изчезват… Невъобразимите ужаси не могат да бъдат описани ни с думи, ни с филми, ни с илюстрации, защото реалността ще е винаги далеч по-кошмарна – но в този графичен роман приближението е достатъчно. Херцко Хафт буквално е в ада и трябва да оцелее с труд, упорство и здрави юмруци, както и да приеме нужните компромиси, възползвайки се от покровителството на нацистки офицер. Същевременно той далеч не е романтизиран герой, Клайст го описва още в началото като груб, опак и агресивен млад мъж, но във времената, в които живее, това не може да е твърде укоримо.

Изд. "Топ Ню Букс"
274 reviews47 followers
July 28, 2016
Testemunho impressionante de uma face do Holocausto que não tem sido explorada como deve ser pela ficção. E Kleist ainda vai para além disso: não faz uma história à "Lista de Schindler", mas explora os traumas de um vencido da vida, antes e depois da II Guerra Mundial, desenhando, com inegável mestria, a maneira como os seus demónios nunca o abandonaram: nos ringues dos campos de concentração, nos da atribulada América dos anos 40 e 50, e em tudo o resto. Brilhante, e provavelmente, uma das melhores "graphic novels" que já li até hoje.
Profile Image for Derek Royal.
Author 13 books71 followers
July 14, 2015
This is another one of those books I had sitting on my self, just waiting to be read. It was definitely worth the wait...but I just wish I hadn't waited. This is something I would have loved to have reviewed for The Comics Alternative blog.
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