Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Memory Book Of Magda Adler has been accepted into the collection of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

memory book scans 009
Page images Here

The Story:

1: Background
2: Research

Expert Opinion:

Hungarian to English

Magda's Book:
A Children's Story 

The Memory Book & Money:
TV producers Take The Book 
And They Give It Back
Holocaust Tax Write-off 

The Memory Book & The Need For Study Of East European Jewish Life:
'A wall separates study of the Holocaust from study of all other aspects of the Jewish past.'

Memory Book Frontispiece:

memory book scans 009

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Statement From The Los Angeles Museum Of The Holocaust

Dear Rex,

I am so grateful that you are the steward of this precious book and do not want to see it compromised or degraded. That is noble certainly. I wish you all the best finding a meaningful home for Magda's memory book and the lives and hopes and dreams it hold on its pages and between its amazingly, and poignantly resilient and durable covers.

Samara Hutman
Executive Director
Los Angeles Museum Of The Holocaust

The Memory Book And Hungarian Jewish Forced Labor in Austria (1944/45)

Dear Rex,

This is a truly beautiful and moving document. It is great that you found the book and managed to identify the author. I wish you lots of success with your further research.


Eleonore Lappin-Eppel* Hungarian Jewish Forced Labor in Austria (1944/45)
"In the spring of 1944 more than 430.000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, the majority of them was murdered on arrival. More than 15.000 Jews were sent to Strasshof rather than Auschwitz and had to do Slave Labor in the Eastern provinces of what was then the "Ostmark" and is today Austria. In the fall and winter of 1944 another app. 40.000 Hungarian Jews were sent to the Austro-Hungarian border where the so called "Südostwall" was constructed, a system of fortifications that was supposed to stop the Red Army. Jewish fortification workers were deployed to Western Hungary as well as Austria, both groups were under the command of the Austrian Nazi elite of the "Gaue" (provinces) Niederdonau and Styria. At the end of the war the Jewish workers were pulled back from the border regions and taken to concentration camps."

*Eleonore Lappin-Eppel is a researcher at the Austrian Academy of Science, Institute for Theater History and Culture Science and Lecturer at Graz University. Her research foci are Social History of Jews in Vienna (1918–1945); German-language Jewish Press; Holocaust in Austria; Hungarian- Jewish Forced Labor in Austria (1944/45); Politics of Holocaust Memory in Austria since 1945.

Central European University Jewish Studies Project

Dóra Földes
Program Coordinator
CEU Nationalism Studies Program
CEU Jewish Studies Project
1051 Budapest, Nador u. 9. FT 205
Phone: +36 1 327-3000/2499
Fax: +36 1 235 6102

From: Dora Foldes 
Subject: Adler Magda
Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 8:06 AM

Dear Rex Miller,

I have visited your blog. The notebook is simply beautiful and this whole story is really moving.

Best regards,

Brandeis University's Valuation Of The Memory Book

Below is a message from a director of Brandeis University which conveys the Archivist at the University's judgment of the Memory Book:

From: Janice Fineman
Date: August 2, 2010 6:15:18 PM PDT
Subject: Book from Mr. Miller

I just saw an email from the Archivist and she wrote the following regarding Mr. Miller's book:

"This is a very important piece that would be most appropriately housed at either the Holocaust Museum or Wiesenthal Center. Given the many stipulations the donor has set, I believe he'd be more successful in trying to sell the work outright, without the other parameters. It would be a shame for the memory book to fall into private hands and not be made available to interested researchers."

You can tell him that we checked with Brandeis Library and they feel this is a very important piece that would most appropriately be housed at either the Holocaust Museum of Wiesenthal Center. We thank him for letting us know about this offer and wish him the best in finding a buyer.

Let me know if you have any further questions.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


(Memory book page images here)

I was living with my new Hungarian wife in Budapest, and every day I went to the Odeon cafe with my books to read. This time, it was evening and all the neighborhood looked like a flea market, the streets and sidewalks crowded with furniture, televisions, clothes, everything of a larger size not wanted left to be picked up the next day by the city.

The memory book was sitting on top of a box of video tape cases, its cloth binding absorbing the rain just starting drop by drop. Jewish neighborhood, old notebook, attics and basements: I opened the book looking for something important and on one of the first pages see a large 6 pointed star with a poem inscribed within. The pages were filled with handwritten entries, poetry, dated from 1937-1941 and signed with different names, there were beautiful illustrations and decorations.

For me the story begins here. I was someone who had made his living finding things, old watches bought and then sold. I was Jewish, and interested in ideas of what that meant, thinking and writing about it. And I was a reader of detective stories.

A name was written in a childish hand in pencil on the first page: Magda Adler. First step, check the building directories in the neighborhood for the name Adler. Nothing. Then the Budapest telephone directory. Many Adlers, more than 40.

Then United States telephone directories: several listings,in Brooklyn and Miami, for a Magda Adler, aged 83. Right age. I telephoned her. She said she wasn't from Budapest. Wasn't Hungarian. Then asked me in Hungarian if I spoke Hungarian (Later a Hungarian friend telephoned her again, and was told that she married after the war, Adler was her married name, she had lived in the East of Hungary and never in Budapest, she never had a memory book.) I found and contacted through a genealogical site a niece of a Magda Adler of the right age who had lived her whole life in Budapest and died two years before. But after the niece and her relatives saw the pages of the book and considered the names of those who made the entries they said that without a doubt it did not belong to their relative.

I contacted holocaust archives in Jeruselem. They sent me records of several Magda Adlers. Only one was from Budapest and of the right age. An entry document from a camp was signed Magda Alder, the writing very close to that on the memory book.

I visited the archives at the Doheny Street Synagogue in Budapest. A building attendent guided me upstairs and through hallways off the balconies of the synagogue, reserved for women in the orthodox practice. He opened a door to the back balcony and we entered to look down on the vast empty space. Then we went on to the offices of the Jewish archive, a dusty bright room with its own balconies and side rooms filled with shelves of books and papers.

The attendent introduced me to the man sitting at a large table, who asked what he could do for me. I told him, and asked what his job was: he helps people like me do research.

He checked the holocaust data base, no information. He checked the mother and father's names on the camp document. Burial records found, Budapest cemetary. Nothing else. He said based on the date of entry on the document, and the camp, Magda Adler probably was among those who were sent to build fortifications at the Austrian Border. (This was later confirmed by the Austrian historian Eleonore Lapin, an expert on this period.) In the neighborhood where I found the book there had been three sanctuary houses set up by the embassies of Switzerland, Sweden and the Vatican. He thought the book probably came from one of them. In the corner of an attic for 70 years perhaps. He suggested contacting the Budapest Holocaust Museum to see whether they had information. I visited them later. Their newly hired Internet Technology expert checked their database for me. Many entries for Magda Adlers, but none of the right age and from Budapest. (The writings in the memory book make it clear that Magda Adler was living in Budapest).

Meanwhile I had returned to the United States, and then once again came back to Budapest. I asked several Hungarians to call the Adlers living in the neighborhood where the book was found. No one said they knew of a Magda Adler. Since a boarding school is mentioned on one of the book's pages I went to the Central European University's Library (the language school where I was teaching English had written a letter for me that allowed me to get a visitor's admission card there). The Jewish High school, Zido Gymnasium, had been in the streets behind the Doheny Synagogue, in the second Jewish neighborhood of Budapest, founded outside the old city walls in the 19th century when Jews were forbidden to live in the city itself, and later the ghetto of forced enclosure at the end of the war.

I read in one book, Jewish Budapest, that there were many temporary accommodations arranged at this time for students who were moved into this neighborhood. The address on the camp document is on a street just behind the synagogue.

I came across a copy of Anne Frank's diary on the library shelves. Hadn't looked at it for years. What struck me this time was similarity of tone: the seriousness, reflections, book reading, realism and deep religious feeling were the same as were in the memory book entries. Many people who read the translations of the poetry and advice in Magda Adler's book said it was strange, even that it was unlikely that such things were written to a girl at her years of 13 to 17. Anne Frank was the same age when she wrote her diary. I answered them it was part of these books' importance that they give us an idea of a serious and beautiful society, a deep and good way of life that has vanished.

Just before I returned again to the United States I visited the Hungarian State Archives in their several offices in the castle district of Budapest. I knew already that records of Jews were not kept there, and mostly they had been destroyed during the war. Sent from one office to another, finally I found an archivist who when I told the story of finding the book, and showed her the web site I had made for it, asked me what exactly I would like her to do.

I was looking for Budapest City records, court documents, marriage, divorce etc, anything that would mention the name Magda Adler. The archivist said give her a few minutes. Did some checking. And said, yes, she found something that seems to match. A court document from 1947 declaring that Magda Adler, of Ujpest, a suburb of Budapest, was deported in Augest 1944, did not return, and was deceased. Her huband's name, Sandor Strumpf, is mentioned. I have just recently asked my Hungarian contacts to call the few Strumpfs in the Budapest Telephone directory and ask if they knew of Magda.

The story of the research is just about finished. The dates on the two document found: August 1944 deportation, November 1944 entrance to Dachau concentration camp, brought in a period of history I wasn't familiar with, the transportation of the Budapest Jews to Austria, and the negotiations between the Nazi Adolph Eichmann and the Jewish community leaders. I hadn't known the story, but when I looked in the CEU library there were many books on the subject. It was no secret. It is the story of upward of 100,000 people boarding trains, told they were to be "resettled", while their community leaders knew for a fact that almost all of them would be killed on arrival at Auschwitz in Poland, and were arranging with Eichmann the escape by train to Switzerland of 1000 or so at the cost of 1000 dollars each. Later the same leaders watched as thousands more were marched on foot to the Austrian border to dig in the ground without tools, then to work as slaves rented out by the Mayor of Vienna to local farms and factories. From the dates on the documents, Magda Adler was among this group.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Magda's Book (A Children's Story)


Here is a picture of our attic. All those books are ours. And that is Magda sewing my coat.

We have been here for about a month now. Magda has a husband but he had to go away to work.

She is my best friend. And I am her best friend. Though I am only thirteen, she tells me I act like her mother. I don't mind. Her real mother is gone, but I still have mine. And father too.

I got the idea for this book from Magda. I mean I found her memory book hidden on the shelves. She doesn't know I found it.

You can see how nice it is. People had time to make nice things then. Myself I have poor penmenship. But no one is going to complain. Like Magda's book, my book is a secret.

Did you see the tear in the pocket? In the last picture, I mean. On my coat. Magda and I were at Keleti Station. We weren't allowed to be there, obviously. But I had the pass my father gave me. Here is what it looked like.

And this is the station. They are going to resettlement. Magda and I stay here, safe in this house that belongs to Sweden.

Somewhere among all those people getting on the train was Gabi, Magda's favorite teacher.

The memory book was in my pocket, but I didn't have to take it out to know what Gabi wrote down. The date was 1941. Three years ago. Here it is:

"When childhood first awakes to consciousness,
When its faith first is being torn by destiny,
When you, heart and soul, cry out in pain,
Beware, that's when life begins."


My father tells me that mother watches over him. And he watches over me. Always no matter what. And that I have to watch over Magda. Some people need more watching over, he says. I asked what I could possibly do for my friend Magda. She knows everything. Reads all night. She's married, she's a teacher, She's a tailor. She is kind. She is wise. And father said I was right. Still she needs to know someone is watching over her.

"In life you're cared for by these three:
God, parents, and good friends.
Worship the first, respect the second, and never forget the third."

I guess you are wondering about how we got here. Magda used to live with us. I mean our house, our big house, my father and mother and grandmother's house. We had plenty of company, because families from other parts of the city had to move out of their own houses, they were told to, and they came to live with us. Our house became school, dormatory, my father's law office, and political headquarters too, unfortunately, my father says.

Politicians. My father always said that word in a funny way. On our last day, before we came here, the politician guy came over in his big car. He saw me sitting outside on the steps, said to Magda beside me "may I?" and ruffled my hair. Pretty girl.

Are you a politician? I asked.
Are you going to shoot me?
Do you deserve it?
You're the daughter, I recognize you. Your father taught you to talk that way.

And he went up the steps and into the house. Five minutes later all the children, all of them, came stumbling over each other out into the street. Magda went inside and came back with the news: we all had to go. We were going to the Swedes. Father had arranged it. We have to hurry. They are coming. The politician came to warn us. And then she turned to go back inside. For the books.

I remembered what my father taught me. All these little kids needed someone to look after them. They looked to each other, and saw that every one of them was looking at the others for someone to look after them, they were scaring each other looking for help from each other. Mother, Father would say, is not here, but I know she looks after us. She demands we do good, she's watching to catch us out. So I thought, give the little kids something good to do. I said,

- Magda, tell them we're taking the books. We're taking the books! Get them to repeat it. Line them up, up the stairs, along the street. We'll pass on the books kid to kid, from our library to the Swedes house. We can see it from here. I took Magda's elbow and got her going. She was shocked like the rest at having to move again so soon.

And my father was right. The books arrived in our attic here, the kids came with them.

This is what Magda's book says:

"There are two beautiful things in life,
On which destiny has no power:
Diligence and morality,
On earth and in heaven we're blessed by them."


In the picture of our house you can see the Swedish Flags and the sign above the door, "Svenska Bibliotek". Father said it was Mr. Wallenberg's idea to call the house a library. Now where the sign is really is a library!

It was through Per, the man who worked with Mr. Wallenberg, that Magda and I first met. Magda translated German and Hungarian for Per. Per and Mr. Wallenberg are Swedes who are helping us.

Father worked with the Politician, as he called him. And both of them often went to see the Swedes. Father always says he liked to keep me in his sight and out of everyone else's.

He took me with him to meetings, Per took Magda, so often Magda and I found ourselves waiting together, this time in the kitchen of a big house out in the Buda Hills that Per was renting.

We sat over the coffee the house maid prepared for us, listening to the murmur of voices coming from the dining room, the voices of the German Eichmann, Per, and Father. That reminds me. It's hard to describe Magda's voice. She doesn't like to talk much. She likes to sing, especially while she sews. I said to her in the kitchen,

- The men in the other room: they are deciding who lives and who dies.

Magda looked at me with her quiet eyes. I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking that I was too young to know.

But we both had been there at the train station. We saw the brave Mr. Wallenberg jump on the roof of the train, throw in his Shutz Passes, lead the people out of the train and station and into his cars with Swedish flags. The Germans shouted get down! stop! they shot their rifles into the air. He didn't go through that to save people from "resettlement". Even a 13 year old can figure that out.

We can at least know what they're saying, I urge Magda. Come with me.

We take off our shoes and tip toe to the closed double doors of the dining room.


Crouched outside, in the hallway around the corner from the closed doors to the dining room, we can clearly hear three voices. Per, the Swedish Diplomat, Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi officer, Rudolph Katztner, the "Politician". Per is saying to Eichmann,

- You should worry about what will happen at the end of the war. About your future.

- You should be worried too. The Russians will get here first. They will be uncertain about who you work for. Sweden? America? Other countries?

- We receive financial support from the American Refugee Relief Board. It is a humanitarian organization.

- If you say so. You use American money to help the Jews stay, when it is my job to send them away.

- But you know Germany has lost the war.

- We can still complete the task we have set for ourselves.

- You are talking about killing people.

- Killing Jews.

- For the glorious future of Germany, when Germany has no future. You say so yourself.

- Watch yourself, my dear Per. We Germans still have our present, and presently we are here in Budapest.

- I'll ask you again. Why send people to their deaths for an idea you don't believe in? You say the killing will make the world a better place for your people, who might soon be killed to make the world a better place for their conquerors.

- And I'll say again, Watch yourself, Per. I believe in doing my job. I am well rewarded for it. I will do it as long as I can and will enjoy doing it up until the end.

What do you say, Herr Kasztner?

- I also believe in doing my job, and that is saving people. The future of nations, polite dinner table gossip I leave to the diplomats.

- Bravo. $1000 each transported. Train to Switzerland. That is true international language. You'll have your train, I promise you. Do your work, I'll do mine.


Magda is surprised, me too, when Father appears standing before us, a quizzical expression on his face. I say,

- There you are.

- There you are. Clear out!

- Where have you been?

- Making a telephone call. What business is it of yours? Back to where you are supposed to be, you two!

In the kitchen Magda stands before the stove, her face turned away.

- Magda! Only God decides who lives and who dies.
- I have to trust Father will do what is right.
- What can he do alone?
- He can be a good man. Kata, come here. We will sit in this kitchen and drink another cup of coffee. We don't get it often. You want to think a way out for us, then go ahead and do it. I'll see that Father listens to you. Right now we'll try to be good to each other.

She puts her arms around me, rests her head on my shoulder. I'm big for my age, so it isn't too awkward.

"In life you're cared for by these three:
God, parents, and good friends.
Worship the first, respect the second, and never forget the third."

That's from the first page of the memory book.


On the Sabbath Magda and I exercised our privilege, as Father would say, of leaving our house with the Swedish Flag driving in Per's car flying the Swedish flag.

The Pest Synagogue was full. Here is a picture. We looked down on the crowd from the women's balcony high above. I said to Magda,

- If I ran down there, climbed onto a chair and shouted, you all are going to die! what would happen? There are thousands. They'd tell their friends.

- The Germans would take you away. No one would believe you, man or woman.They'd say to each other that if it were true, the Rabbis would have told them.

Do you see that boy? Blond hair, blue eyes? That's Lantos.

- Your friend?

- You've seen him at home. He brings medicine to all the safe houses. He's coming tonight.

- He looking up at us.

- Don't look! Let's go to the car.

In Magda's book I read:

"To love many is a guilt,
To love two is a sin,
To love One is sweet,
Solely be faithful and warm."


Magda has gathered all the children together for school. I don't have to attend because I take lessons all day living with her up in our attic. And anyway everyone keeps talking about how advanced I am.

The surprise I have for Magda is that Lontos is coming after class with Father. We are going to ambush Magda. We need her good sense.

By the way, he is not really her father. He's my father. He is father to her, he says, as she is mother to the children. As I am mother to her!

Father arrives just as the class ends. Lontos is with him. Father kisses Magda on the cheek, kisses me on the cheek. Lontos signals to me with a little wave of his hand. He says,

- I hope Kata was telling me the truth. She said that you would listen. She and I have agreed on this: we cannot choose between selecting some to be saved, and warning the rest the resettlement trains are death trains. We have to do both.

- How?

- If people are warned, they can try to escape, they can hide, they can defend themselves, they can join the resistance.

- Why would they believe you?

- We will choose the people who are ready to believe. We'll do it quietly. That's what we are doing now. We won't destroy Kastner's deal with Eichmann.

Take your house full of orphans on the Kastner train, if you can do it. But help us too. We'll find those who will believe. We'll do it quietly. They'll join us, save themselves and others. Will you help?

Kata, ask your father.

- Father?

- Magda, what do you think?

- Yes.

The Memory Book says:

"In the storm of life your clear inner-self is the best shelter."


This is a picture of train station goodbyes. The memory book:

"It's hard to find a good friend,
And a true, whole-hearted partner.
But it's even harder to be separated
From the one you love,
When it's such a precious thing
You can't find anything like it
On the whole Earth."

Time passes quickly. I'm growing up fast. This is the last I will write for a while. Magda refuses to go with us. She won't take a chance from someone else. And there is work for her here. Lontos is staying too. He laughs: Kastner forgot to save him a place on his train! He promises to look after Magda.

(Note: This children's story is based on the Memory Book, an historical document, and was written by Rex Miller)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Memory Book

memory book scans 009 

The Professor and I would meet almost everyday while he was in Budapest at the Odeon café. It is in one of the town’s Jewish quarters, though not in any way a Jewish place itself, managers, its employees, customers not Jewish for the most part. Across the street on the corner was the Broadway ticket office, made famous earlier in the year. A member of a neo-Nazi group went in to buy a ticket to a concert, and was told the concert was sold out. He believed the Jewish owners of the agency wouldn’t sell to him because he wasn’t Jewish. He or someone else returned at night to smash the shop’s window, and began organizing on the internet a demonstration against Jews to be held outside the shop. A counter demonstration was organized, the police themselves made a demonstration of force blocking the street with barricades. There were thousands of agitated people on the street. On that day the professor and I were both meeting with the women in our life at the Odeon, and all four of us found ourselves standing outside the café looking on at this stupidity, asking ourselves what we were doing there, two Jews, what we were doing there with these women, two avowed anti-Semites. Later the professor asked me,

- Why do you think we both have gotten involved with anti-Semitic lovers? Are we self destructive?

- I think the women chose us, and we accepted.

- Why did they choose us if not because they could sense that we were self destructive? That we would accept them?

- They chose us because they love us. They love us because they admire what they think Jews are doing, and they wish they could do themselves. We accepted them because we love being loved.

- Loved for bad reasons. We really are self-destructive.

- Sometimes when I am sitting here drinking coffee, reading, one of the café managers passes by and says softly to himself in a stage whisper, “the Jew is back”. He is enjoying himself.

You haven’t read the essay yet I sent you? On Plato’s Republic? No, of course not. I wrote that I thought the book was saying that a perfect society is unlivable because a perfect society establishes its order on what is visible to strangers - public roles - and this leaves out almost everything that makes life good, our love for individuals, our creating something new, our freedom in other words.

Theorists of religion say society is imperfect because there would be no free will in a perfect society. Unlimited freedom is open to us in trying to make a perfect society, but there is a problem for the those who look ahead to living in perfect fellowship with others: how can they reconcile the good fellowship aimed at in the perfect world with the obviously intolerant destructiveness used to make that world? Usually the makers of the future perfect society lie to themselves, work at forgetting what they are doing, cover up what they are doing with vague, official sounding formulas.

The anti-Semite envies the Jew for escaping from this dilema, for in his view the Jew has already achieved, in his successful international conspiracy, a society perfectly ordered and perfectly functioning, and all the while enjoys preying on non-Jews, in this separate realm of activity expressing his individual freedom; his private social life with his own people is kept pure from the antagonism inflicted on strangers.

Anti-Semitism is a program to imitate what is imagined as the Jewish perfection of life strategy. So it seemed to me, I explained to the Professor.

He expressed his doubts. What did my wife say?

My wife had in fact told me she admired Jews for their having a close community, unlike the Hungarians, and also they get to break all the rules. If she could hear me talking now, she would say that just like a Jew I am stealing her ideas, to be used for my own Jewish purposes.

- You really think that these women are with us because they want to be like us?

- Why do they hate us too, then? That's your question?

- Yes.

- When they convince themselves that they are being treated by us as outside of the family. That we act towards them as Jews to non-Jews. They respond with anti-Semitism.

- You and me are playing a dangerous game with them.

He was prophetic. For shortly afterwards his lover, who was a 38 year old student taking one of his classes in Human Rights Law, was accusing him to the newspapers and television News Programs of destroying her life, misusing his power as a teacher. And my wife had sent the Budapest police after me, accusing me of attempted trespassing on the apartment where we lived together.

I had been to the Police station with a Canadian-born Budapest practicing criminal lawyer, who pointed out to the investigating officer that a husband trying to go home to the place where he lived with his wife was not a crime. The officer agreed, but said, “we’re investigating.” She wanted to know how much money I made, whether or not I had a driver’s license, if I was a teacher of English. She looked to be no more than 20 years old. Showed no expression on her face at all. Her lunch was in a paper bag sitting on her desk. Soon after, three policemen delivered a letter at the hotel I was staying, in which new charges were made against me, including impersonating government officials, and ordering me to appear at another interrogation. I had no intention of going. I sent the Professor a message asking him to meet me at the Odeon.

I was getting out, not knowing where exactly I was going, and wanted to hand over to him for safe-keeping my manuscripts, but especially the Book of Memories I had found outside the café a few nights before.

It was the semi-annual “store-room clearing day”, on which larger unwanted things could be left on the street outside your house to be picked up without charge. On this rainy night the street was lined on both sides with piles of beds, tables, chairs, televisions, lamps, overcoats, and much else. Just down the block from the café entrance I saw a crate filled with plastic video cassette boxes, but sitting on top  an old cloth bound notebook, large rains drops staining the cover in widening circles.

This it turned out was a young girl’s “memory book”, which she had taken around to friends, family, teachers for them to write down advice, encouragement, quotations, and unusually, paint pictures in and ornament with professional attention. The entries dated from 1938 to, the last, in 1941. The dates spoke  louder than anything else.

My guess was that the book’s owner had left the book behind, and she had fled Budapest in a hurry just as now I had to flee, -- though of course my circumstances were a joke compared to what she faced at those times.

I left the memory book and manuscripts with the Professor. But when he returned home to England, he found the the news media camped on the lawn outside his house in Stratford, Shakespeare country. He had become an unwilling celebrity thanks to his student-love. He went into hiding. I got worried about the memory book, my e-mail to him wasn’t being answered. Finally he surfaced, explained the circumstances of his persecution. I gave the details of mine: I was safe back in the United States, but the Budapest police has issued a warrant for my arrest.

The memory book was at the office of a Hungarian publisher of books of Jewish interest. Unfortunately they were going bankrupt, according to their editor in Israel whom I contacted asking for information: they didn’t answer e-mail, answer their telephone, answer their door.

Months passed. Finally last week the Professor had his research assistant in Budapest retrieve the book from the office of the publisher, and it arrived safely by express currier here in Los Angeles and its temporary home at the Library of the Simon Wisenthal Center.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Memory Book Of A Young Jewish Girl In Hungary 1937-1941, And The Need For Study Of East European Jewish Life

'A wall separates study of the Holocaust from study of all other aspects of the Jewish past.'

We don’t have a history of the Holocaust that is set in the Eastern European lands where the victims died, and that describes the interactions of the German invaders, the Jewish inhabitants, and the peoples among whom the Jews lived. Why not? The vast literature on the Holocaust based on German sources, though it represents perhaps the most impressive historical research of recent decades, seldom draws from Eastern European languages. Eastern European historians, for their part, have traditionally avoided a topic that transcends national history and challenges national myths of innocence. In Historians of the Jews and the Holocaust, historian David Engel suggests a surprising addition to this list of limitations: historians of Jewish life, scholars comfortable with the longue durée of Jewish history and with Hebrew and Yiddish, have sequestered Jewish societies and institutions from the Holocaust. Over decades, says Engel, they have built a “wall separating study of the Holocaust from study of all other aspects of the Jewish past.”

(From an article in the September 30, 2010 issue of The New York Review Of Books, "What We Need To know About The Holocaust", by Yale University Professor Of History Timothy Snyder.)