Ebury will publish the memoir of Holocaust survivor and concentration camp librarian Dita Kraus who inspired the novel The Librarian of Auschwitz (Ebury).
Publishing director Gillian Green acquired world rights excluding Czech and German rights to the book. Part of Kraus’ story was told in fictional form in the Sunday Times bestseller The Librarian of Auschwitz (Ebury) by Antonio Iturbe, which has sold more than 100,000 since being published in April according to the publisher. “A Delayed Life is the first time Dita has told her story in her own words,” Ebury said.
The author was born in Prague. In 1942, when she was 13, she and her parents were deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt, and later to Auschwitz, where her father died. She and her mother were sent to forced labour in Germany and finally to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen where her mother died. After the war, she married the author Otto B Kraus, who was a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz and a teacher in the camp. They emigrated to Israel in 1949, where they both worked as teachers and had three children.
“Written in three parts, A Delayed Life follows Dita’s childhood and the beginnings of the German occupation in Prague through to her life in the Terezin ghetto and then the horror of camps and Dita’s return to Prague after liberation,” the Penguin Random House imprint said. “Dita writes powerfully and unflinchingly about the harsh conditions of the camps and her role as librarian of the precious books the prisoners had managed to smuggle past the guards. She also writes about the liberation of the camps and her chance meeting with fellow survivor Otto B Kraus after the war, who she had met in Auschwitz, and who became her husband.”
Since her husband’s death in 2000, Kraus has lived alone in Netanya. She is also the literary executor of The Children’s Block, his autobiographical novel which tells the true story of 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1943 and 1944. The Children’s Block will also be published by Ebury Press in October of this year, featuring an introduction written by Dita Kraus.
Of the acquisition, Green said: “It has been an absolute privilege to get to know Dita through publishing The Librarian of Auschwitz. I’m honoured to be publishing her remarkable memoir here at Ebury and be able to share her extraordinary life with others. To me, A Delayed Life serves as a powerful companion piece to Librarian, allowing Dita to tell her own story in her own words.”