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Naked Among Wolves

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by Bruno Apitz Literature

Rights Sold:5 countries


The moving story of a three-year-old boy captivates the world.

Translated into 30 languages, readers from Sweden to Japan have feared for the life of the three-year-old child smuggled into Buchenwald in a suitcase. Millions saw the film version, and the novel itself has a unique and troubling publication history that is still compelling today. Now we have the opportunity not just to reread the book, but to read it in a new, expanded edition.

A child sways ideologues

»If we do someday move beyond this, then we will make sure that no wicked system of political criminals can demand from humanity hecatombs of the dead«, Buchenwald prisoner Bruno Apitz promised himself. In the mid-1950s, Apitz first wrote a screenplay outline, then the beginning of a novel about a Jewish child who had been saved in Buchenwald, based on a story he had heard while he was imprisoned there. But no one was interested in a film or a novel set in a concentration camp. And no one trusted the unknown author to successfully handle the difficult and provocative topic. Because Apitz described the dilemma of the communists in the concentration camp: if they hid the child they would undermine their illegal resistance work. Yet many insisted on following their hearts against all party discipline.

An author with moral conflicts

It was precisely this moral conflict that moved readers, and when the novel was finally published in 1958, its unusual success story began. The novel about saving the Buchenwald child was a fictional rendering inspired by a real event. But in the GDR, it was mainly read as a factual report, and it became a symbol of the antifascist resistance. Earlier versions of the manuscript show that Bruno Apitz originally envisioned the collaboration of the communists as discordant, but he allowed himself to be swayed to water down the conflicts. Based on the preserved manuscript, the new expanded edition takes the author’s original intentions into account. Related texts by Apitz are provided, along with an afterword on the publication history and previously unknown details of Apitz’s imprisonment in the camp.

»Simple humanity triumphs in Naked Among Wolves.«
Marcel Reich-Ranicki

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Pub Date:
Sep 1958

About Author

Bruno Apitz

Bruno Apitz was born in 1900 in Leipzig and was imprisoned in 1917 for antiwar propaganda. He was trained as a bookseller, worked as an actor, and became a member of the Communist Party of Germany. Beginning in 1933, he was imprisoned multiple times, then spent eight years in Buchenwald until its liberation in 1945. After that, he worked as an editor, the administrative director of a theater, and as a dramaturge at DEFA, the publicly-owned East German film company. After 1955, he earned his living as a freelance writer in Berlin. He died in 1979. Naked Among Wolves was both his first novel and a world-wide success, filmed in 1963 by Frank Beyer with Erwin Geschonneck and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

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Rights Holder


GermanyGermany Sold 187 Bought 7
Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG is an independent publishing house with a broad program of fiction and non-fiction titles. Each year, about 200 new titles are published by its four imprints Aufbau, Rütten & Loening, Blumenbar and Aufbau Taschenbuch. Aufwau was founded in 1945 with the motivation to create a new cultural orientation for the people in post-World War II Germany. It soon becamse the leading cultural and literary publishing house in East Germany. Today Aufbau publishes a strong literary fiction program with German and international voices as well as an outspoken non-fiction list.

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