- Published: 05/01/2012
- ISBN: 9781847084767
- 192 pages
Under a Cruel Star
Translated by Franci Epstein, Helen Epstein
The daughter of prosperous Jews, Heda Kovály found her world turned upside down with the German annexation of Czechoslovakia. Deported to Lodz Ghetto in 1941 and then to Auschwitz, where her parents were murdered, in 1944, Kovaly made a miraculous escape from a column of prisoners being marched to Bergen-Belsen in early 1945.
On reuniting with her husband in Prague after the war, things started to look more hopeful. Rudolf Margolius became a deputy minister of foreign trade. But in 1952 he and 13 other government officials were tried and 11 of those hanged in one of the era’s most notorious show trials. Heda Kovály and her four year old son were hounded by the state and shunned by society.
In this powerful and moving memoir, Kovály describes her imprisonment by the Nazis during WWII and her persecution by the Communists in the 1950s – a classic account of life under totalitarianism.
One does not 'review' a book like this. One weeps, and prays ... Beautiful evocation of lovely Prague
The Sunday Times
A book that puts the urgencies of our times and ourselves in perspective, making us confront the darker realities of human nature
Anthony Lewis, New York Times
This is an extraordinary memoir, so heartbreaking that I have reread it for months, unable to rise to the business of 'reviewing' less a book than a life repeatedly outraged by the worst totalitarians in Europe. Yet it is written with so much quite respect for the minutiae of justice and truth that one does not know where and how to specify Heda Kovály's splendidness as a human being