Kraus, František R.

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KRAUS, FRANTIŠEK R. (1903–1967), Czech novelist, publicist, and radio editor. Born in Prague, Kraus started to work very early in Bohemia and contributed to the newspapers Prager Tagblatt, Prager Presse, and Tribuna. His tutor and friend was Egon Erwin *Kisch, who introduced him to writers and journalists from the Prague Circle, such as Franz *Kafka, Max *Brod, Franz *Werfel, Otto *Pick, and Johannes *Urzidil. At Tribuna he met Karel *Poláček, and Karel and Josef Čapek. By the end of the 1920s Kraus had become an editor at Mluvenי noviny and for Czech Radio. In his radio reports, he warned the Czech public of growing Nazism in the Sudetenland's German minority. He survived the Holocaust, having escaped from the Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Glivic, and Blechhammer concentration camps. He lost his job at Czech Radio in 1952, where he had been working since 1945. He freelanced until his death.

Kraus' work is either connected with Holocaust themes or with the problems of Czech's frontier regions. Just after the war he published one of the first testimonies about Auschwitz Plyn, plyn… pak oheň ("Gas, Gas… and Then Fire," 1945), followed by an autobiographical report "And Bring Back Our Dispersed" (1946) about the reasons for and consequences of the Jewish tragedy. His first novel was to be dedicated to Jan Masaryk and was titled "Shemarjahu Looks for God." It was published as "David Shall Live" (1949) after changes forced by the publisher. It is the story of a Jewish physician from Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. In his next novel Proměněn země ("The Changed Country," 1957), Kraus returned to the problems of his beloved north Bohemia. A classic work of postwar Czech literature, Kat beze stenu ("Hangman without Shadow") appeared semi-legally in 1984 and then in 2000. Two novels and a short story for children remain unpublished.


A. Lustig and F. Cinger, Frantisek Robert Kraus, Přísně taj (2002); A. Mikulšek et al., Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou, vol. 1 (1998); "O autorovi," in: F.R. Kraus, Kat beze stnu (2000).

[Avigdor Dagan /

Milos Pojar (2nd ed.)