The interview: Ivan Klima

From The Guardian:

Ivan-Klima-001 Ivan Klima grew up knowing exactly what freedom was. Freedom was the opposite of his childhood. In 1941, when Klima was 10, his father was sent on the first Nazi transport to Terezin, the “fortress ghetto” north of Prague, and the family followed. Klima remained in Terezin for the duration of the war. He had, he says, not been aware that his parents were Jewish until Hitler came to power. “Anyone who has been through a concentration camp as a child,” he once wrote, “who has been completely dependent on an external power which can at any moment come in and beat or kill him and everyone around him – probably moves through life at least a bit differently from people who have been spared such an education. That life can be snapped like a piece of string – that was my daily lesson as a child.” There were other lessons, too, though; lessons in survival, lessons in escape. Klima had only one book with him in Terezin, The Pickwick Papers . He read it over and over, and transported himself daily to the world of Sam Weller and Nathaniel Winkle. Freedom was established in his mind as storytelling.

He started to write while in the camp, aware that any page he finished could be his last, and found that the trick of escape worked even better. He wrote plays and made his own puppets to perform in them, and then stories about the girls he fancied, daydreams about his first loves. The sense of liberation he found in these made-up sentences never left him. “I have always pursued inner freedom,” Klima tells me now, at his home in Prague. “I have never been censored.”

More here.