Hello again and welcome to another edition of the Sunday Scoop. I am reviewing my advanced reader’s copy of I Kiss Your Hands Many Times today. This book is to be released on August 27, 2013 from Spiegel and Grau Publishers
What makes this book so remarkable is that it is a work of non-fiction. It is a true story. In Hungary thirty-two Jews obtain release to neutral countries, after striking a bargain with the Nazi party.
In the late spring of 1944 thirty-two family members of a wealthy Jewish family gain freedom from persecution and escape to Portugal and Switzerland. After weeks of negotiations, Ferenc Chorin of the Manfred Weiss Company and Csepel Industries buys his family’s way out of Hungary by turning the family holdings over to the Germans. The Germans wanted the family’s businesses for several reasons. The holdings included a munitions factory and a large labor force. One other factor was that the Reich wanted it for financial reasons. The holdings and stocks represented a significant portion of the wealth of Hungary. Becher is an agent working for Himmler and negotiates the deal with Chorin. There was one draw back, one member from each family had to remain in Germany to prevent the families from slandering the Germans.
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is the story of Hanna’s family. Ferenc Chorin was her uncle. Although most of Hanna’s family had been Catholic for over twenty years the Hungarian government during World War II labeled them as Jewish. It was something that even years later when Hanna is in America she covers up. She even told her children not to tell their cousins. This book describes the history of Hungary and it’s politics before and after World War II and the effects on her family. The Hungarians were happy when Hitler attacked Russia. The Hungarians had no knowledge of the concentration camps and their activities. They felt that communism was their biggest fear.
The love story of Hanna and Aldar is the foundation of the book. Aldar is employed in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. This places him in a very difficult position during his negotiations with Germany due to his known anti-Nazi beliefs and his relations with Hanna. He met Hitler and ate lunch with him in his dining car. Aldar tells of his meeting with Hitler and the discussion that they had. Aldar later becomes a political prisoner in Dachau in November of 1944.
Hanna and Aldar both survive the trials and the tribulations of the war and their love with stands the test of time.
Overall I liked the book. It is very dense with facts and the politics take up a large portion of the story. They are an integral part to the understanding of the events that occur. I tend to gravitate toward the human interest part of the books I read. I am more interested in the thoughts and emotions of the characters than the politics. I would have liked a map of Hungary and Budapest in the front pages of the book. I am horrible at geography. I enjoyed the many photos that were included, but there were no captions under them identifying the people. This book is an incredible story of one family’s survival of the Hitler regime. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
The link below is another book about Ferenc Chorin called Trading in Lives. It also looks interesting.
Diary of a young Jewish girl is about Madalaine Lang a young Jewish girl in Budapest.
- Useful link collection for Foreigners in Hungary (lostandfoundinbudapest.wordpress.com)
- Never too late: Nazi hunters tirelessly pursue 50 elderly Auschwitz war criminals (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- Herzog Heirs Say They Are Closer to Recovering Nazi-Looted Art – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)