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Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague, 1941-1968 Paperback – January 1, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
A Jew in Czechoslovakia under the Nazis, Kovaly spent the war years in the Lodz ghetto and several concentration camps, losing her family and barely surviving herself. Returning to Prague at the end of the war, she married an old friend, a bright, enthusiastic young Jewish economist named Rudolf Margolius, who saw the country's only hope for the future in the Communist Party. Thereafter, Rudolf became deputy minister for foreign trade. For a time, the Margoliuses lived like royalty, albeit reluctantly, but then, in a replay of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Rudolf and others, mostly of Jewish background, were arrested and hung in the infamous Slansky Trial of 1952. Kovaly's memoir of these years that end with her emigration to the West after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 are a tragic story told with aplomb, humor and tenderness. The reader alternately laughs and cries as Kovaly describes her mother being sent to death by Dr. Mengele, Czech Communist Party leader Klement Gottwald drunk at a reception, the last sight of her husband, the feverish happiness of the Prague Spring. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
An exceptionally intimate and poignant memoir by a Czechoslovakian exile. Kovaly, a Jew, was forcibly deported to a Nazi labor camp in the early days of German occupation. A spirited woman, she not only survived the camp but returned to Prague to wed her childhood sweetheart, Rudolf Margolius. Though their fortunes rose in the postwar era, Rudolf eventually lost his life in the Stalinist purges of the early Fifties, leaving Heda to face life as a nonperson. Kovaly's recollections of her life during the purges form the core of the book and convey with brutal clarity the magnitude of suffering inflicted on thousands of Czechs. Her brief impressions of the famous "Prague Spring" of 1968 are also illuminating. Recommended for libraries with large Eastern European collections. Joseph W. Constance, Jr., Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Ms Kovaly tells of first of time in Nazi camps, her excape, the struggle to rebuild individual lives after the war, and then the turn by many to Communism as a reaction to what they had just been through with the Nazi's. All in all, a well written and poignant account of one person's life under these most horrifying of circumstances. Definitely recommended.
The reader can only be very happy that Ms. Kovaly was able to survive and overcome her ordeals and be able to write about her life. It should also be mentioned that besides a wife and a mother Ms. Kovaly was an illustrator, translator, and librarian with a very intelligent interest in architecture and the fine arts.
This book is an excellent and invaluable historical description of post World War II and Stalinist Czechoslovakia. No student of European history student should miss this work. And for the general reader this book is a must read. The book is a very well written account of survival under very difficult circumstances.