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Masquerade: Dancing Around Death in Nazi Occupied Hungary Hardcover – September 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A hopeful book about the Holocaust is a rare find. Billionaire financier George Soros, the author's son, is known for his optimistic, bold philanthropical support of open societies in post-Communist Eastern Europe. After reading this sober but surprisingly cheerful memoir, it's clear where George got these traits. Few Holocaust memoirs begin with statements like "Life is beautiful and full of variety and adventure. But luck must be on your side." But survival took wiles and connections as well. As life worsened for Hungarian Jews in 1944, Soros, a Budapest lawyer, managed to find false Christian papers and hiding places for his family. The Soroses struggled daily against possible discovery and death. Soros relates the fascinating details of his search for hiding places and skilled document forgers. The book's remarkable, upbeat tone predominates: even as Hungary falls to homegrown fascists and his acquaintances are killed, Soros views his travails as a game he will win. The book is a tribute to the power of the individual to maneuver through devastating, dangerous circumstances. Originally published in Esperanto in 1965 (the author died in 1986), the book was recently rediscovered by Paul Soros's daughter-in-law. Those interested in the Holocaust and in the psychology of survival will find it compelling, as will those seeking inspiration. Eight pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) Forecast: Name-recognition and national TV and radio interviews will jump-start the 25,ooo-copy first printing, and the book's genuine appeal will sustain respectable sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For European Jews, surviving the plague of Nazism that swept the continent in the first half of the 20th century became a test of resourcefulness, ingenuity, and sometimes just plain chutzpah. When the fascists took over Hungary in 1944, Soros was a Jewish lawyer with a family and friends. Under his strong guidance, his family voluntarily ceased to exist as Jews. Forging new identity papers, they adopted the guise of Christians and dispersed themselves throughout Budapest and beyond, dropping out of sight by blending into the background. With humor and wisdom, Soros tells the story of how he and his family managed to live relatively normal lives during the 11 months of fascist occupation, even while many around them were arrested and killed. This is an intelligently written narrative that is both compelling and uncomfortable, an autobiographical account that is like Anne Frank's diary but less poignant and more optimistic: the Soros family did, after all, survive. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. [Soros, father of philanthropist George Soros, fled West with his family at the time of the Hungarian revolution and lived in New York until his death in 1968. His book was originally written in Esperanto and is now appearing for the first time in English. Ed.] Michael F. Russo, Louisiana State Univ. Libs., Baton Roug.
- Michael F. Russo, Louisiana State Univ. Libs., Baton Rouge
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; First Edition edition (September 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559705817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559705813
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book will add another view of the Holocaust that few have seen before. When I told my wife I was reading the book, she said, "Isn't it depressing?" Naturally, any book that comes close to so much unnecessary loss of life will make the reader sad, and that is appropriate. On balance, though, this book will probably leave you feeling more optimistic than you were about what can be accomplished by well-meaning people.
Tivadar Soros was a Jewish lawyer in Budapest when the second world war began. Hungary had been an ally of Austria, so the Nazis did not occupy the country until March 19, 1944 as they began to fear betrayal behind their retreating forces in the Soviet Union and the Balkens. The country was liberated by the Soviets in January 1945. Unfortunately, the Nazis used this ten-month period to murder as many Hungarian Jews as possible.
But Mr. Soros also had had an unusual experience earlier. He had been a prison of war in Siberia during World War I. From that experience, he had learned that those who are prominent are in danger from totalitarianism, after seeing the prisoners' represenative shot to terrify the prisoners. Mr. Soros had been offered that "honor" just recently and had declined. He soon escaped from the prison camp, and had a most difficult time getting back to Hungary through the midst of the Russian Revolution. Where he had been idealistic and vocal before World War I, he came back determined to enjoy each day as though it might be his last. This exasperated his wife, who knew he could accomplish more.
This perspective served him well when the Nazi occupation arrived. As in other countries, the Nazis relied on Jews to follow orders.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Life is beautiful - and full of variety and adventure. But luck must be on your side." So begins a remarkable memoir of Jewish life under the Nazis in Hungary, _Masquerade: Dancing Around Death in Nazi-Occupied Hungary_ (Arcade) by Tivadar Soros. Soros was a thoroughly remarkable man who certainly had variety and adventure in his life, and his share of luck. There are many accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust, and Soros certainly does not minimize the death and terror that he witnessed. Unlike many such accounts, however, this is a story of optimism and triumph. Soros and all his family survived.
His memoir begins in 1944 when the Nazis occupied Germany. Soros realized that "Since we can't stand up to Hitler's fury, we must hide from it." He and his family hid, but since they had to be seen in order to take care of daily needs, they took on the aspects of Christians. This involved his forming close relationships with a series of forgers, and once he took care of his immediate family's documents, he took care of other relatives, and then friends, and clients. "If anyone asked for my help, one of my principles in life was never to say no - if only to avoid diminishing their faith in human beings." Amidst narrow escapes and harrowing close calls, Soros kept a sense of humor which frequently emerges on these pages. As a "Christian," Soros was able to obtain cigarettes when those were denied to Jews, and since he didn't smoke, he would leave them at a watchmaker's, so that people with stars could get some. He went to the watchmaker to get his watch fixed, and asked the price. "How can you ask such a thing?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Kulman on November 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I lived in Budapest for several years and became fascinated by the stories of those brave souls who survived there through the trials of the last century. This recently translated memoire is one of the best. Mr. Soros is able to convey convincingly his experiences in Budapest during the last years of WWII. Like the best memoires, it offers a window into the mind and thoughts of the author in a way which rings true and resonates with the reader. For those who are interested by the human experience in this period of history, this is a must read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Masquerade is the true story of how Tivadar Soros, a Jewish lawyer from Budapest obtained false identities for himself, his wife, mother-in-law, and his two sons. They used these false papers from about April of 1944 until early 1945. I was very surprised at this book, it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. Actually, I thought the book was fantastic. The way the author thought about his and his families survival was just about the opposite of much I have read in surviving the Holocaust. His main idea was not going with the crowd, but to blend in with the crowd. Being a lawyer, the author also had some very good ideas on how to obtain false identities, how police routine would work, he had good contacts, and so on. I think it also helped because the author seemed like a bit of an actor, as many lawyers seem to be. Not a bad thing to be in surviving a world turned completely upside down. One of the things I liked the most, was that the book was written with a real sense of humor. I very much enjoyed reading a book with a very different way of looking at things, which is why I gave it five stars.
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