Holocaust-themed book being distributed to Russian teens

(JTA) — The Russian government has chosen a book about a Jewish teenager who survives Auschwitz for distribution as part of a government-funded youth program.

"Fatelessness," by the Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian author Imre Kertesz, will be distributed to millions of Russian teenagers in an educational multimedia CD given to Russian 14-year-olds when they receive their passport. The CD is part of a series of new programs initiated for 2010 by Russia’s Federal Ministry of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Activities.

The CD will include an explanation of citizen rules and responsibilities, university information and resources, music files, and a large library for youth reading to contain the most important literary works of the past century.

As part of its goal to promote tolerance and understanding, the ministry chose the Kertesz book about a 15-year-old’s experience. It also represents the first time that a literary work focusing on the Jewish Holocaust experience was picked as part of a Russian-government supported literary program for youth.

This year, a total of 12 million copies of the CD are expected to be distributed.

Kertesz’s book first appeared in Russian in 2007 as part of "The Prose of Jewish Life" book series that since its inception in 2005 has seen more than 50 books on Jewish themes published in Russian for wide distribution.

Supported by the Avi Chai Foundation and a group of local Russian donors, the series, which includes works by Israeli, American, European and Yiddish writers, is the largest Jewish publishing effort in the Russian language.

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