Spark of Life (novel)

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Spark of Life
First US edition
AuthorErich Maria Remarque
PublisherKiepenheuer & Witsch
Publication date
Published in English
1952 Hutchinson (UK)
Appleton-Century-Crofts (US)
Media typePrint

Spark of Life is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, which appeared both in German (as Der Funke Leben) and in English in 1952.

The novel is set in the fictional Mellern concentration/labor camp during the Holocaust.


509, whose real name is Friedrich Koller, is a political prisoner in a German concentration camp. He is about 45 to 50 years old. For ten years, he has persevered in the most hellish conditions. Deathly weak, he still has his wits about him and he senses that the end of the war is near. If he and the other living corpses in his barracks can hold on for liberation—or force their own—then their suffering will not have been in vain.

Now the SS who run the camp are ratcheting up the terror. But their expectations are jaded and their defenses are down. It is possible that the courageous, yet terribly weak prisoners have just enough left in them to resist. And if they die fighting, they will die on their own terms, cheating the Nazis out of their devil's contract.(1) For 509, it is not just a question of staying alive, but of staying human.

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