Divisional Events

<< Back to Events

Human Rights Project and Hannah Arendt Center present

A Lunchtime Talk with László Bitó, '60

"The struggle against antisemitism, holocaust denial and neo-nationalism in Hungary and Eastern Europe."

Monday, April 15, 2013

In 1951, László Z. Bitó and his family were deported from Budapest to a small village near the Soviet border by the Hungarian Communist regime. Three years later, Bitó was sent to a forced labor unit in the coal mines of Komlo, Hungary. During the revolution of 1956, he organized the takeover of the labor camp. After Russian tanks crushed the uprising in November, he escaped to Austria and from there immigrated to the United States when he was 22 years old. He was granted asylum in the United States and came to Bard College in the winter of 1956–57. He graduated from Bard College in 1960 as a pre-med biology major and went on to obtain his doctorate from Columbia University in medical cell biology. His research led to the development of Xalatan, a drug that has saved the sight of millions of glaucoma sufferers. He has published more than 150 scientific articles and received, among many other honors, the highest recognition in the field of eye research, the Proctor Medal. Upon retiring from Columbia University as an emeritus professor of ocular physiology, he returned to Hungary and his first love of writing. Of his 14 nonscientific books—novels, essays, and three anthologies of some of his more than 100 newspaper and magazine articles—some have appeared in translations in half a dozen countries.

The moral blindness, the acceptance of aggression and violence has always been the central question of his literary works. The answers to these questions Bitó is exploring in two roles - as a successful writer, and also as a man who has known much suffering.

Location: Arendt Center