Robert Bober was born a child of Polish Jews in Berlin in 1931. In 1933 his family emigrated to France, where thanks to a warning, they survived the razzia of the “Vélodrome d’Hiver” in July 1942. At the age of 16 he started an apprenticeship as a tailor and worked as a tailor and cutter until 1953. Afterwards, he worked as a teacher at holiday homes and led therapeutic projects with psychologically ill children, including children who had lost social ties through the war. In the fifties, Bober got to know François Truffaut and became his assistant on the films”Tirez sur le pianiste” (1960) and “Jules et Jim” (1962). In 1967 he made his own first documentary film for television. Today Bober is regarded as one of the most renown documentary film-makers in France. In the sixties and seventies his television documentaries were thematically concerned with the post-war period and the effects of the Holocaust.
Films such as “La génération d´aprés” (1971) and “Réfugié provenant d´Allemagne, apatride d´origine polonaise” (1976) were made, which are concerned with the fate of German Jews of Polish origin in France, who fled. Since the eighties, in co-operation with Pierre Dumayet, author portraits are at the forefront of his work, for example films abut Paul Valery, Flaubert and Georges Perec, with whom Bober was friends. Together with Georges Perec, one of the forerunners of the “Nouveau Roman” he filmed, in 1979, “Ellis Island Tales”, a film about the former main starting point for European immigrants in the USA.In 1993, Bober’s debut novel, “Quoi de neuf sur la guerre?”, for which he received the coveted “Prix du Livre Inter” came out. Set in the first year following the end of the war, in a Jewish Parisian tailors, Bober tells the story, in an apparently light, almost cheerful tone, of a group of war survivors who tell of how they were saved.
Bober’s second novel, “Berg et Beck” appeared in 1999 and is, since 2000, also available in German. Thematically, it is linked to the debut: the author tells the story of surviving children of deported Jews in the early fifties, their war traumas and their strategies of surviving the loss of the most important people in their lives.
The novels of the author, who lives in Paris, keeps alive the memory of the Shoah and the war without tearing the horror into a harsh light of prefabricated paradigm. In an unspectacular way, almost casually and in a down to earth and simple language, the still fresh memories of the concentration camps and the atrocity of the Holocaust are, through Bober’s characters, confronted with the slowly returning everyday life. “There comes a moment,” according to Bober, “where writing shouldn’t replace remembering but should continue it. […] The more intense a situation, the more painful it is and so all the more pathos must be avoided.”
© international literature festival berlin