Jewish Music & Poetry Project

Poets & Musicians

Miklos Radnoti

Award-winning Hungarian poet and translator Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944, né Miklós Glatter) was born in Budapest into an assimilated Jewish family; his mother and his twin brother died during his birth—which he was devastated to find out about at the age of 10. An anti-fascist with Communist sympathies who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1943, Radnóti published his first book of poetry when he was 21. In 1935, he married Fanni Gyarmati (b. 1912).  In the 1940s, he was conscripted, first into a labor battalion and then into a Nazi forced labor camp in Yugoslavia. When he and his fellow prisoners were led on a death march into Hungary in 1944, remarkably he wrote poems into a small notebook about his experiences and feelings. Along the march, he was shot and buried in a mass grave with 21 other prisoners. After the war, the grave was exhumed, and the notebook with his poems were found buried in his coat pocket with him; they have been published posthumously; many are considered masterpieces and bear objective witness. The films The Forced March and Neither Memory Nor Magic tell his story. Radnóti’s poem “Béke, borzalom” was written in 1938.