Note from John Rakos, translator, editor:
Lolo (Wolf) was my aunt. She wrote this novel a few years after living through the Nazi occupation and Jewish persecutions in 1944 Budapest. She tried to publish this work in Hungary but no publisher was willing, probably due to the fact that Hungary and Hungarians of the day are reflected in such a negative light. Near her death she sent me the manuscript and asked me to try to publish it in North America. The world needs to know.
For a preview of the first three chapters please go to amazon, and search for ‘Budapest 1944 Rakos’
In the dark history of humankind, nothing rivals the WWII Nazi occupations and persecutions. This book is the true account of the invasion of Budapest on March 19, 1944, the occupation and final liberation by the Russians on January 15, 1945.
The book could be called a diary, since many of the events are dated, however it is rather a memoir and a novel. It is about a young Jewish girl named Lolo, her three peculiar sisters, elderly parents, and mostly absent husbands – they were conscripted into forced labour and military service.
The book is not a tale of atrocities – although these loom in the background – it is rather a tale of maintaining relationships in impossible circumstances, surviving the myriad of edicts and rules imposed on the Jews, and tolerating annoying neighbours in the close quarters of the ghetto. It is a story of love, family, staying alive in the incessant air-raids, and avoiding getting deported to the gas chambers.
Lolo, the author is politically astute and it is fascinating to read about the war from the point of view of a country aligned with Germany. “Hungary has always picked the losing side,” she complains. Many questions are posed, such as:
* How did Nazi Germany accomplish the Jewish pogrom with minimal effort? And as a corollary, how much did the Hungarian people contribute to the abuse?
* Why was the carpet bombing of Budapest by the Allies necessary? Did it have the alleged effect of demoralizing the people? As Lolo in the book asks during an air raid, “Who is liberating us now, the British or the Americans?”
* What was Ralph Wallenberg’s role?
* How was D-day perceived?
The most remarkable aspect of the writing is Lolo’s sense of humour. She found many of the situations comical and describes the darkest adversity with a tone of irony and humility. Written with the passion of an artist and historian, it is a book about women. At one point she is forced to live in a one-room apartment with twenty others. How do you get along? What about hygiene? Menstruation? Sanity?
This is the first volume of a two-volume text, the second to be published soon.
For a preview of the first three chapters please click ‘Download Preview’ below. The book can be purchased (for $2.99!) from Amazon, search for ‘Budapest 1944 Rakos’.
I have a Facebook page for discussion of the book at ‘Budapest 1944’.Download Book Preview