The Spanish writer and left-wing political activist Jorge Semprun has died at the age of 87.
He experienced first hand many of the historic upheavals of the 20th century.
His family fled to France when he was a teenager at the start of the Spanish Civil War. During World War Two he fought with the French resistance, the start of his unique view of Europe as a whole.
“We offer the youth of Europe things that interest them greatly, things they can use practically, like the Erasmus university exchanges and all kinds of travel,” he told euronews. “But that’s all very hard-nosed, very day-to-day. We don’t offer them — or we don’t know how to offer them up till now — a common, global project. Why Europe? What does it do? What does it mean? Certainly not just Erasmus trips. We have to do something more.”
In 1943 Semprun was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp where he spent a year and a half, an experience that he relived in two books decades later. Having seen the worst of what Nazism and Stalinism had to offer he wrote ‘The jungle of the market is better than the totalitarian zoo.’
When Spain returned to democracy after Franco, Semprun returned too serving as culture minister in the socialist government between 1988 and 1991.
His independent views had rubbed up several of his cabinet colleagues the wrong way. He returned to Paris to complete a wide-ranging collection of written work.