Even in old age Stéphane Hessel became an icon for youth culture in Europe and North Africa with his pamphlets. What made his writings so popular?
A pamphlet published in October 2010 under the title “Time for Outrage!” unexpectedly turned 93-year-old Buchenwald survivor and former UN diplomat Stéphane Hessel into an icon for youth and protest movements across Europe and North Africa. It addressed issues such as rebellion against injustice, the destruction of the environment and the fight for human rights. Even after his death in 2013, he remains an inspiration. In October 2010 Stéphane Hessel’s pamphlet “Time for Outrage” appeared on booksellers’ shelves and became an unanticipated global bestseller. Selling nearly two million copies and translated into many languages, it struck a chord – not only with young people, and not only in Europe but particularly in the Arab world too. At the age of 93, despite having been born into a literary family, Stéphane Hessel became something he never sought to be: a celebrated writer. In 1924 7-year-old Hessel moved with his mother from Berlin to Paris. After later joining the Resistance, he was sent to and survived the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the Second World War he enjoyed a career as a UN diplomat and acquired a reputation – especially among insiders – as a lyricist, essayist and political activist. The publication of his pamphlet in 2010 suddenly made him an icon for youth and protest movements across Europe and North Africa, and an inspiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement. In July 2017, shortly before the G20 summit in Hamburg and more than four years after his death, Stéphane Hessel was still a name on many people’s lips. A prestigious group of writers and artists presented the full text of “Time for Outrage!”. The issues addressed include rebellion against injustice in society, human rights and ecocide. The documentary “Time for Outrage! Time to Act! – Stéphane Hessel” seeks answers to the question of how a person of advanced years can become a hero for the younger generation. What made Hessel particularly appealing was his personality – a man of sincerity, optimism and natural charm.
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