Posted on October 9, 2012 at 9:15 AM
LONDON—It’s an unusual man who can forgive his wartime torturer—or whose quest to do so can touch so many people around the world.
Eric Lomax, a former British prisoner of war whose moving tale of wartime torture and forgiveness is being turned into a film, died Monday in Berwick-upon-Tweed in northern England, his publisher, Vintage Books, reported. Lomax was 93.
Lomax was a British army officer when he was captured by Japanese forces as they overran Singapore in 1942. Lomax endured horrific conditions and savage beatings as he and thousands of others were put to work building the infamous Burma to Siam railroad.
Lomax endured years of suppressed rage at the torture he suffered at the hands of his Japanese captors, but when he tracked his interrogator down, it set the stage for a dramatic act of forgiveness that formed the heart of his celebrated 1996 memoir, “The Railway Man.”
Rachel Cugnoni, publisher of Vintage Books, called “The Railway Man” one of the landmark works of the 1990s, a testament to the “great capacity of the human spirit for forgiveness.”
“It tells Eric’s incredible and moving story with grace, modesty and exceptional humility. All characteristics Eric had as a man,” she said in a statement.
The book is currently being made into a film starring Academy Award-winners Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
Lomax was born May 30, 1919, in Edinburgh. He returned there in 1945 after more than three years of interrogation and torture at the hands of the Japanese after his capture in Singapore.
Lomax later wrote of his own skepticism ahead of meeting with Nagase Takashi, who he had tracked down following his retirement in 1982.
“I strongly suspected that if I were to meet him I’d put my hands round his neck and do him in,” Lomax wrote on the website of U.K.-based reconciliation charity The Forgiveness Project. “After our meeting, I felt I’d come to some kind of peace and resolution. Forgiveness is possible when someone is ready to accept forgiveness. Some time the hating has to stop.”
Lomax is survived by his wife Patti, his daughter from his first marriage, Charmaine, and his step-children, Graeme, Nicholas, Mark and Jennifer.