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Arnost Lustig, Holocaust survivor and novelist, dies at 84

February 26, 2011 |  1:21 pm

LustigArnost Lustig, who escaped from a Nazi death transport and made the Holocaust the main theme of his novels, died Saturday. He was 84.

Lustig's death was confirmed by Jana Jelinkova, a spokeswoman for Prague's Kralovske Vinohrady university clinic. He had been battling cancer for five years.

His novels included "A Prayer for Katerina Horowitzova," ''Darkness Cast No Shadow" and ''Lovely Green Eyes."

Lustig was twice awarded the National Jewish Book Award and in 1994, he received a literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for exceptional accomplishment. In 2009, he was among the finalists for the Man Booker International Prize.

Born in Prague on Dec. 21, 1926, Lustig survived the Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi concentration camps before he escaped from a train that was transporting him to Dachau in 1945. The train's engine was destroyed by an American bomber.

When the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia crushed the liberal reforms of Alexander Dubcek and ended an era known as the Prague Spring in 1968, Lustig fled his homeland and, after a stay in Israel, became a professor at American University in Washington.

After the collapse of Communist rule, Lustig visited Prague on a regular basis and later returned to live there.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Arnost Lustig in 2008. Credit: Associated Press