Norbert Frýd was born to a Jewish family in České Budějovice, Czechoslovakia. He graduated from a German gymnasium in his home town and the Faculty of Law at the Charles University in Prague. In the 1930s, he worked as a lyricist, film editor and scriptwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and RKO Studios. In 1937, he began studying for a doctoral degree in modern literature at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, with a thesis on the origins of Czech Surrealism. After the Nazi Occupation of his country in World War II, he was forced to work as a manual laborer. In 1942, he was deported to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, where was involved in the clandestine cultural life of the community. He wrote a collection of nursery rhymes and songs that were performed in the camp, and directed a play. In 1944, he was transported to Auschwitz and later to Dachau. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. After the war, he returned to Prague and became a journalist and an official of the Czech Communist Party. In 1947, he was named a cultural diplomatic attaché to Mexico and latet served in various diplomatic posts in Latin America and the USA. Today he is known primarily for his 1956 autobiographical novel Krabice živých (A Box of Lives), in which he describes his experiences in the Holocaust.