Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Known Destruction - They Put Him in a Concentration Camp

In Brideshead Revisited, a novel written in 1944, Evelyn Waugh describes the suicide of one of his characters, Kurt, in a German concentration camp, during the late 1930s. The writing is fiction, and like all fiction, it is created out of the reality of the world around us. Though the full extent of these prisons as death camps would not be known for another year, neither was their existence unknown at the time.

Kurt – He Hanged Himself

Sebastian went after him, and for a year could find no trace. Then in the end he ran him to earth dressed as a storm trooper in a provincial town. At first he wouldn't have anything to do with Sebastian; spouted all the official jargon about the rebirth of his country, and his belonging to his country and finding self-realization in the life of the race. But it was only skin-deep with him. Six years of Sebastian had taught him more than a year of Hitler; eventually he chucked it, admitted he hated Germany, and wanted to get out. I don't know how much it was simply the call of the easy life, sponging on Sebastian, bathing in the Mediterranean, sitting about in caf├ęs, having his shoes polished. Sebastian says it wasn't entirely that; Kurt had just begun to grow up in Athens. It may be he's right. Anyway, he decided to try and get out. But it didn't work. He always got into trouble whatever he did, Sebastian said. They caught him and put him in a concentration camp. Sebastian couldn't get near him or hear a word of him; he couldn't even find what camp he was in; he hung about for nearly a year in Germany, drinking again, until one day in his cups he took up with a man who was just out of the camp where Kurt had been, and learned that he had hanged himself in his hut the first week.


Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder
A novel by Evelyn Waugh
Book Two - A Twitch Upon the Thread
Chapter Four
Pages 306 - 307
Little, Brown and Company 1945

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