Bruno Apitz

28.04.1900 - 07.04.1979
Bruno Apitz, 1933. © Buchenwald Memorial

As a German communist, Bruno Apitz had been persecuted since 1933. He spent more than seven years as a political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. His Buchenwald novel “Naked Among Wolves” made him famous.

Bruno Apitz grew up as the twelfth child of a working-class family in a suburb of Leipzig. Even as a teenager he was involved with the social-democratic working-class youth. He was arrested at an anti-war demonstration in 1917 and spent a year in prison. After the First World War he struggled , and only held casual jobs. Initial attempts to pursue a career as a writer were unsuccessful. In 1927 he joined the German Communist Party (KPD). Politics became the center of his life. He combined his artistic ambitions with propaganda work for the party, for which he wrote and staged plays, designed posters and appeared as a speaker.

After taking power at the end of January 1933, the National Socialists began to systematically persecute their political opponents. Communists and social democrats were affected in particular. Bruno Apitz was arrested in May 1933 and imprisoned for two months in the Colditz and Sachsenburg Concentration Camps. He then continued his political work underground. At the end of 1934 the Gestapo arrested him again. Convicted of alleged preparation for high treason, he spent more than two years in the Waldheim prison. Like many communists, he was not released after serving his sentence.Instead, the judicial authorities handed him over to the Gestapo, who sent him to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in early November 1937 without a further trial and for an indefinite period of time. The camp was still under construction at that time.

The SS in Buchenwald considered Bruno Apitz to be a “habitual political offender”. In the first few months, they assigned him to heavy-duty work on various construction sites. Relying on his artistic and manual talents, he managed to evade physically demanding work. In the sculpture workshop he produced commissioned works for the SS. In 1942 he was assigned to the “Pathology” labor sections.

His position in the camp was privileged and offered scope for cultural activities. Bruno Apitz wrote songs, poems and small plays, which he presented at secret events or events tolerated by the SS. He directed and acted in theatrical performances in the camp.

After the liberation, he became politically active again and worked in Leipzig as an editor, dramaturge and functionary, later as a freelance writer in East Berlin. His novel “Naked Among Wolves” became a bestseller and was translated into 30 languages. Based on the rescue of a child, Bruno Apitz designed it as a heroic epic of the communist camp resistance in Buchenwald.

The animation is a result of the collaboration with the St. Joost School of Art & Design in Den Bosch and Breda.
The animation is a result of the collaboration with the St. Joost School of Art & Design in Den Bosch and Breda.