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Miklós Radnóti

Miklós Radnóti, birth name Miklós Glatter (5 May 1909 – 10 November 1944) was a Hungarian poet who died in The Holocaust. Radnóti was born in Budapest into an assimilated Jewish family. His life was considerably shaped by the fact that both his mother and his twin brother died at his birth. He refers to this trauma in the title of his compilation Ikrek hava ("Month of Gemini"/"Month of the Twins"). In his last years, Hungarian society rejected Radnóti as a Jew, but in his poems he identifies himself very strongly as a Hungarian. His poetry mingles avant-garde and expressionist themes with a new classical style, a good example being his eclogues. His romantic love poetry is notable as well. Some of his early poetry was published in the short-lived periodical Haladás ("Progress"). His 1935 marriage to Fanni Gyarmati (1912–2014) was exceptionally happy.
Radnóti converted to Catholicism in 1943. Numerous Jewish writers converted to Christianity at that time due to the antisemitism that was pervasive in Hungarian society at the time. Radnóti also admired his former professor of literature, the Piarist priest Sándor Sík.
In the early forties Radnóti was conscripted by the Hungarian Army, but being a Jew he was assigned to an unarmed (munkaszolgálat) ("labour battalion"). The battalion assigned to the Ukrainian front, and then in May 1944 the Hungarian Army retreated and his battalion was transferred to the copper mines in Bor, Serbia. In August 1944 as Yugoslav Partisans led by Josip Tito advanced, Radnóti's group of 3,200 Hungarian Jews was force-marched to central Hungary. On the march most of them died, including Radnóti.
In these last months of his life Radnóti continued to write poems in a small notebook and scraps of paper he kept with him. His last poem was dedicated to his friend Miklós Lorsi, who was shot to death during their death march. According to witnesses, in early November 1944, Radnóti was severely beaten by a drunken militiaman who had been tormenting him for "scribbling". Too weak to continue, he was murdered, together with other young Jews, and buried in a mass grave near the village of Abda, near Győr in northwestern Hungary. Today, a statue next to the road commemorates his place of death.

1 December 2013

by BL Nonprofit Kft. It is an affiliate
of the bi-monthly journal Magyar Szemle,
published since 1991

Editor-in-Chief: Tamás Magyarics
Deputy Editor-in Chief: István Kiss
Associate Editors: Gyula Kodolányi, John O'Sullivan
Managing Editor: Ildikó Geiger

Editorial office: Budapest, 1067, Eötvös u. 24., HUNGARY
E-mail: hungarianreview@hungarianreview.com
Online edition: www.hungarianreview.com