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I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 27, 2013
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“In this panoramic and gripping narrative of a vanished world of great wealth and power, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák restores an important missing chapter of European, Hungarian, and Holocaust history.”—Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story and Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America
“How many times can a heart be broken? Hungarians know, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family more than most. History has broken theirs again and again. This is the story of that violence, told by the daughter of an extraordinary man and extraordinary woman who refused to surrender to it. Every perfectly chosen word is as it happened. So brace yourself. Truth can break hearts, too.”—Robert Sam Anson, author of War News: A Young Reporter in Indochina
“This family memoir is everything you could wish for in the genre: the story of a fascinating family that illuminates the historical time it lived through. . . . Informative and fascinating in every way, [I Kiss Your Hands Many Times] is a great introduction to World War II Hungary and a moving tale of personal relationships in a time of great duress.”—Booklist (starred review)
Top Customer Reviews
The book follows the author's parents, Aladar and Hanna Szegedy-Masak, he of movie-star good looks and intellectual heft and she from a family of aristocratic and fantastically wealthy industrialists. That's plenty enough for a good story, but the events unfold in Hungary, a place to most of us that's entirely exotic, against the sweep of World War II.
Ms. Szegedy-Maszak was born in 1955, when her father was already 51 years old. She makes that point early on. What follows is an elegantly detailed, manifestly researched and finely written discovery of her own parents; she could hardly know them in the 30 years she had with them, never mind that her father's life had left him a distant and tragic figure.
Once a dashing Hungarian diplomat, Aladar had been imprisoned at Dachau, the notorious Nazi camp, where he hungered as much for food and salvation as he did for the woman he loved for so long. Hanna, meanwhile, had fled to Portugal with her family.
Through it all, Ms. Szegedy-Maszak drops mind-blowing revelations. Her father had once met Adolf Hitler. Hanna's industrialist-magnate patriarchs had made a deal with Heinrich Himmler. Winston Churchill had gotten involved in the family's plight. Later, after the war, Aladar spends a few minutes with Harry Truman. An uncle invests in a company that becomes Gulf + Western.Read more ›
It's hard to believe that so much information was written into one book. There is lots of historical information on things that happened during the war in Hungary. In reading many holocaust survivor books, I had known that the Hungarian Jews were delivered to the camps really late in the war, but I did not realize why; I had never studied what happened in Hungary during the war. Most of the people in this family were blessed by making it out of the Reich alive.
They were able to make a deal with a Nazi to get their family out, which really shocked me. They could have taken what they wanted and killed them all, but they didn't. The family was criticized after the war for making the deal with them, but since the alternative was to just stay there and see their family decimated, I don't think they had any choice at all.
There are many stories of the families (the book is about the large, extended family) in wartime, and of the author's father, in Dachau. But there are also stories of what happened to them after the war. During the time of the communist takeover of Hungary. The author's father was a diplomat from Hungary to the US after the war, and the book really brings home the struggle that went on at that time. Part of the family was here in the US, and part of the family was still in Hungary.
It has always bothered me that after the War, Stalin just took over and made so many countries communist, because he had been our ally, and he was on the winning side.Read more ›
The author's parents were not just common folk. On her mother's side, the family was fabulously rich and powerful. They owned several industries and many were involved in various cultural arenas as well. They hobnobbed with the rich and famous of Europe. They also were of Jewish descent, a difficult heritage in Europe in the early to mid-1900's. As a result, some members of the family converted to Catholicism, and some of the younger members did not even know as children that their parents or grandparents had been Jewish. Still, to the Nazis, they were all Jews.
On her father's side, the family was middle class and Christian. Her father was a rising star in diplomatic circles, and openly anti-Nazi. He fell in love with the author's mother, who had been brought up Catholic, although he was aware of her Jewish ancestry. He knew firsthand the dangers of Nazism, as he personally dealt with (and feared) many of the leaders, including Hitler himself.
As the war breaks out, and Hungary chooses to align with Germany mainly to prevent being invaded by the despised Russians, the families remain in Hungary.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unique perspective from a family that experienced Hungry during the 1940sPublished 2 months ago by Kari
A well-written, fascinating tale, which combines the broad sweep of history with the author's own family story. Highly recommended.Published 5 months ago by A booklover
A fascinating love story showing an authentic picture of Hungarian history. I have family members who left Hungary after WWII and came to the USA so I could really relate to it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by txcricket
Most educational. Very well written. Leave the judgmental side of yourself alone and just appreciate it for what it is.Published 9 months ago by Linda's Lookout
This was like reading my family history, except for the wealth and prestige...Published 13 months ago by George Frick
Fabulous memoir of a very interesting family within the context of historic events.Published 14 months ago by Jane Jelenko