Monday, April 28, 2014

Read Your Way Around the World - Hungary part 2

Read Your Way Around the World invites you to explore memories of Hungary. Recent biographical works coming out of or looking back at life in Hungary has been largely centered around World War II and the Holocaust. These are reflective and serious stories that focus not just on a terrible time of our recent history, but also on the resiliency of the human spirit.

In Vanished Boyhood George Stern relates how his childhood ended at the age of 13 whenGermany invaded Hungary. he survived the Siege of Budapest by refusing to wear the Jewish star and passing as a Christian. He survived the war and in 1948 went to Palestine and fought in Israel's War of Independence. In the 1960s Stern and his family settled in Canada where he has been active in support of Jewish war veterans.

Marianne Szegedy-Maszak unlocked family secrets and revealed of a depth of her parents' relationship that she was unaware of when she translated their letters in I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls and Wars in Hungary. She had only seen her father as depressed, not as a man who so ardently pursued her mother. Their relationship was complicated by her mother's Jewish faith and the detrimental effect it would have on her father's career in 1940s Hungary. Their loved survived the war, separation and his terrible imprisonment in Dachau. They were reunited and emigrated to the United States where they raised their family.

Nobel Prize award winner Imre Kertesz wrote a complex memoir Dossier K. which  takes the form of a conversation with himself. As a teenager Kertesz was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald and as a result the theme of much of his writing has been a reclaiming of his or one's life. He writes of his life as a journalist under repressive Communist regimes and his work as a novelist. He is unsentimental and while much of his writing focusses on the Holocaust, he also gives time for the pleasant memories associated with his childhood.

Destiny's Author by Stewart Laszlo tells the story of Laszlo's father Thomas Layder's childhood in Hungary hiding on a farm until the war is over in order to escape the Nazis. Life did not improve for him under the Communist regime so he eventually made his way to Canada to share his story with his son and now with us. It's story of childhood, war, resilience and love.

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