April 16, 2013
Austrian author Ludwig Laher will present "Literature, History and Civic Engagement: The Novel ´Heart Flesh Degeneration' and its Austrian Environment" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, in the Gorecki Center, Room 204B, College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn.
"Heart Flesh Degeneration" was Laher's first novel to be translated into English.
In 1940, Nazi Storm Troopers set up a Work Education Camp in St. Pantaleon near Salzburg, Austria, and then, after its closure in 1941, a Gypsy Detention Center. Hundreds of incarcerated prisoners are tortured there, and some are murdered. The camp doctor is the parish doctor who has been called in to the camp. "Heart Flesh Degeneration" is a term used by the doctor to describe a harmless cause of death. Finally, he calls in the State Attorney's Office concerning the tortures and deaths taking place. The ensuing investigation forms the basis of Laher's work.
Laher met with College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University students on the Austria Study Abroad programs in 2007 and 2008, giving them a tour of St. Pantaleon and its environs, sites of the events portrayed in the novel.
He studied German, English and philology at the University of Salzburg and graduated with both a master's degree and a doctorate. He has taught at both the university and high school levels. In 1993, Laher moved to St. Pantaleon in Upper Austria, where he has worked as a writer ever since.
Laher's publications include poetry, essays, translations, academic papers, radio plays and screenplays. He has also received numerous literary prizes and scholarships. He has served as the president of the European Council of Artists and has been a member of the Association of Austrian Authors and the International Network for Cultural Diversity.
This event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the CSB and SJU History Department, and the schools' Center for Global Education, the Office for Education Abroad, the Modern and Classical Languages Department, the History Club and the German Club, as well as the CSB Literary Arts Institute.