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Video-testimonies: Uran Kostreci about Burrel prison (part 2)


Uran Kostreci: The situation in Burrel was difficult. Burrel was infamous for its iron discipline. The only advantage we had there, particularly for me who dealt with books, was that there was no work and throughout the day, if you had what it took and had the will, you could deal with books. Burrel, unlike other concentration camps, had foreign language books: Italian, French, some German and some English, but a lot of Italian.

Because Burrel was assigned and estined to contain people that were to perish, be massacred, neutralized. That was the first plan. The old guys thought that whether we’d have books or not, we would still disappear. For that reason, the books remained up to 1973, but I went there in 1963. Until 1973, the books would have been there for ten years for me to use, and I used them as much as I could.

Since I dealt with books, I gained a lot. For the coming generation, for the new blood that came after 1973, who were also not too inclined towards books, it was more difficult for them because the books were confiscated in 1973. We who had used the opportunity to learn, like myself; we would do any kind of creative work or translations, but they would confiscate them, too, pretending to check them, but would have them disappear.

I did the Epic of Grasshoppers there, which is a satirical poem against communists. I didn’t manage to bring
the manuscript out of prison, but I had learnt it by heart. It was written over the course of eight to ten years, thanks to my strong memory, which I thankfully still have, I learned 2,000 lines by heart. It had 500 verses.

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