Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Boxer, The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft is a new graphic novel (well it came out a couple of months ago in a U.S. translated edition, but I just now got around to reading it), by Reinhard Kleist, whose previous graphic novel was Johnny Cash, I See A Darkness. The Boxer was published in Germany in 2011 and has deservedly won many awards there.

Hertzko Haft (he changed his name later to Harry Haft which is explained in The Boxer), was from a Polish town called Belchatow and when the Germans invaded Poland, Haft was one of many who ended up doing forced labor and ultimately being to taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Hertzko Haft was forced to fight / box others who were also at Auschwitz. Haft also searched for his first love, Leah Pablanski most of his life after he was separated from her, but I'll let new readers of The Boxer discover for themselves what became of his search.

I've read many a graphic novel, seen movies, and read novels about Holocaust survivors, and The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist, is definitely as powerful of a narrative of what Hertzko Haft had to endure to survive as any other Holocaust memoir I've experienced. I thought I knew just about everything about what went on at various concentration camps, but until I read The Boxer, I never knew about the forced sporting events (such as boxing) that those who were imprisoned had to compete in and how these sporting events were really not sporting at all, instead they were just another twisted form of entertainment for their captors. At the end of The Boxer, there is also short bios of other forgotten champions who were forced to box in concentration camps.

Absolute highest recommendation here at Ich Liebe Comics! and Alternate Reality Comics for The Boxer. Although there have been many Holocaust survivor stories, I know that there are many more that haven't been told yet, and I hope that others will continue to unearth these stories as German cartoonist Reinhard Kleist has done with The Boxer.

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