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by Agatha Hoff

This fictionalized account of real-life occurrences chronicles one woman’s amazing survival of the Hungarian Holocaust. Through the author’s creative first-person telling of her mother’s life—based on her mother’s written and oral observations as well as the author’s own childhood memories—a portrait of the remarkable Eva Leopold emerges. After spending an idyllic childhood on a pastoral estate in rural Hungary, Eva settled in Budapest where despite having been raised Catholic by parents who'd converted from Judaism and being married to a gentile, Eva was considered Jewish by the Nazi regime. Beginning in 1944—when exemptions for Jewish women married to gentiles were lifted—her daily life was dominated by desperate attempts to stay alive, avoid deportation to a death camp, and protect her family. Initially saved by taking shelter in the Papal Legation, Eva also hid in the air raid shelter in the basement of the family’s apartment building, which disappeared when the building went up in flames, consuming the horses stabled on the first floor. Having been widowed, Eva remarried, and she and her new husband made a death-defying escape to Austria. At risk of losing their U.S. visas, Eva and her husband enrolled their daughters in a Catholic boarding school, and boarded a ship to New York where they awaited their daughters' arrival six months later. A touching epilogue, written by the daughter-author, is also included.

Download Burning Horses: A Hungarian Life Turned Upside Down epub
ISBN: 0979098718
ISBN13: 978-0979098710
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Agatha Hoff
Language: English
Publisher: Sweet Earth Flying Press, LLC; First Edition edition (June 15, 2010)
Pages: 200 pages
ePUB size: 1968 kb
FB2 size: 1905 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 310
Other Formats: lrf doc lrf rtf

I highly recommend "Burning Horses" for young, middle-aged and older readers alike. It's an important story in many ways. First, I was incredibly impressed with the courage that Eva and her family exhibited. These people, like others who suffered during that terrible time, struggled and fought like soldiers themselves both to survive and to help their loved ones and friends survive. Their lives torn apart, enduring physical hardship and emotional humiliation, they never gave up. Hoff's story shows us what humans are capable of, both good and bad.
Secondly, this story points out to us once again the danger of allowing a charismatic but psychotic leader to gain such influence and control. I think this book and others like it should be required reading in schools, so that young people the world over would see the danger in allowing such warped thinking to go so far out of control.
Lastly, Hoff's writing is the style I like best, concise but with feeling, showing us what we need to see without being overly descriptive.
Burning Horses is a slightly different slant on WWII. This non-fiction work written in the voice of the author's mother, illustrates life before and during the war in Hungary. The contrast of Eva's pre-war life with the downward spiral of her circumstances as the Germans and then the Russians invade Budapest, is riveting in a strangely familiar way, almost like watching a neighbor fall into heartache. Eva was a person like me, who can't imagine her life being disrupted, changed irrevocably, ripped from its cushy familiarity. The manner in which she strives to maintain normalcy for her children, and also for herself, is telling. To me, her comfortable pre-war life grounded her in a place that forbade the horror of war, the brutality of the Nazi's, the insanity of the situation from taking all measure of the life she might have had. I can only hope that I could stay as composed should I be dropped into such craziness. This book is worth the read for its different slant and gracious, poignant courage.
It was by fortuitous chance that I found myself seated across the table from an attractive and articulate lady who observed my London accent and grey hair, inquired about surviving the Blitz. I, subsequently learned that she was born in Hungary. Sipping our Starbucks coffee we swapped war stories and how we came to these United States. I was so fascinated to learn of the ordeal she and her beloved younger sister Agatha and mother Eva endured. Before we departed, I suggested that she should write a book. Livia, smiled and shook her head saying, "As a matter of fact my sister, who has a remarkable memory and is the keeper of our beautiful mother's memoirs already did so. It was recently published under the title of Burning Horses." I read it two days later and was completely spellbound.
What a life. What a story. What a book. Don't miss it.
Burning Horses: A Hungarian Life Turned Upside Down, by Agatha Hoff (Sweet Earth Flying Press, 2010) is the riveting and well-written personal story of Eva Leopold Badics' life, as transformed by the trauma of World War II and the Holocaust.

It was written by Eva Badics' younger daughter Agatha Hoff, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 13, based in some part on notes her mother left. Told in the first person, the story is chillingly real, and humanizes the general trauma of those days to the life of one Hungarian woman and her family. It presents a view of the Holocaust seldom considered, that of a person who was raised Catholic from birth and was thoroughly acculturated into upper middle class Hungarian society, but was of Jewish ancestry, and therefore targeted by the Nazis, who were allies of Hungary.

Eva's childhood and early adulthood is a story of the economic and cultural abundance of the pre-war Hungarian intelligentsia. Because Eva's parents had converted from Judaism to Catholicism before she was even born, she was completely assimilated and mainstream in Christian Budapest, although her practicing Jewish grandfather toasted her baptism with "L'chaim". But so privileged, pampered, and even spoiled was the young Eva that she could not identify with minorities or the oppressed, and even taunted her Jewish classmates.

At first the anti-Semitism of Germany, Hungary's ally, seemed to have nothing to do with her life. But because her Hungarian identity documents traced her Jewish ancestry, she had to face her own vulnerability to the Nazi horror soon after her own parents were forced into the Budapest ghetto.

The history of the war in Hungary, and Eva's own physical deprivations, humiliation, and terror at the hands of Nazi troops occupying Budapest, is told through the filter of her own prejudices, intelligence, vulnerabilities, love for her two daughters, and shock that "it can't happen here" turns into the Holocaust happening in Hungary.

She was forced into hiding from the Nazis and then later escaping from the Russian invaders.

So insular was her pre-war life that within the space of a single traumatic hour she goes from resenting the imposition of a Jewish cousin who asks her for a very risky favor which can save his life, to expecting Jews standing in line to avoid their own deaths to rescue her from a Nazi officer's cruel torment.

During the war years Eva, her beloved husband, and two young children endured living without a water supply or heat, and later any home at all, hiding in underground caves during close bombing, scrounging for food, and the daily terrors of both bombings and annihilation for having Jewish ancestry. These hardships led to both emotional numbing and courageous acts to meet previously-unimaginable challenges.

The honesty of this book is its greatest strength. It is hard to put down. The images it conveys and the psychological portrait of Eva will enter your dreams and forever give the reader a vivid slice of the Holocaust not often presented. It is highly readable, very impactful, and an important segment of history well worth preserving.
We all know of the history of WWII - the Nazis, the Russians and the horrors they bestowed upon the Jewish people. Agatha Hoff does an amazing job tho, of telling the very difficult story of her own family - specifically her mother and father. It is a love story of sorts - illustrating the depth of sacrifice a husband and wife, a mother and father will go to to keep the family together - even when they must be apart.

Spoken in her mother's voice, the story is exteremely powerful. It is a gift for the reader to have "one soul" from whom to learn the details - the daily-ness of the events as her family faced terrifying situations. The boot of tyranny is an image that will not easily be forgotten. Even if the reader has not been to Budapest, Hoff's carefully chosen words show exactly who, what and where. I came away with a deep sense of gratitude - that as a mother I never had to protect my children in so dramatic a way. This is not just "another WWII book." This is a wonderful book.