Imre Kertész was born in 1929 – the same year Hitler made Himmler chief of the S.S.; by that year, as many as 100,000 members joined the Nazi party; and in that year, two Jewish authors were born, who shall be the main recorders of one of humanity’s greatest atrocities.
One was a brilliant girl called Anna Frank, who perished 16 years later, leaving us a fascinating diary which became a tragic youth biography of an entire nation.
The other one was Imre Kertész, who survived the Holocaust and became a world known author. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature.
“Whenever I start writing, I think of Auschwitz”, he said. His two well known books “Fatelessness” and “Fiasco” depict the daily cursed routine of prisoners in that hellish place. Paradoxically, it was in Auschwitz that Kertész grasped the profound meaning of concepts such as happiness – “in Auschwitz I have experienced moments of the most extreme happiness, such as a ten minutes break from excruciating indescribable labor; freedom – “survival becomes the greatest freedom”; religion – “hell does not exist. I should know – I have been there”.
Kertész, who was not able to set free from Auschwitz’s hell, passed away in 2016.
Ever since Daniel Kahneman was a child, his mother’s words echoed in his mind: “people are greatly complicated and enormously interesting”. Knowing deep inside, even as a young boy, that moms are always right, he decided to make it his mission to get to the bottom of the human mind, thus he studied psychology. Memorizing each and every verse by Freud & co., and after receiving his doctorate, he narrowed it all down to one fundamental question: why do people make the choices they make?
Kahneman and his partner, Amos Tversky ran hundreds of researches, all of which yielded the same outcome: people’s decisions are based on almost everything but rationality: anger, disappointment, optimism, envy, dignity. His revolutionary studies focused on Behavioral Economics. In simple words: what goes on in our minds when we shop? Kahneman demonstrated how at the shopping process, the price of a products is not at the top of our considerations. An old friend we ran into before entering the store; a few tough words from the boss the day before; or a product that some else standing next to us was buying – to name just a few factors – might effect our choices.
In 2002, the Swedish Nobel Committee decided to award Kahneman the prize, even though he never even took one introduction course in economy.
After receiving the award, Kahneman said that the prize committee’s irrational choice proves his theory best: Always listen to mom!