Sacha Batthyany’s aunt was involved in one of the most terrible Nazi crimes to be committed at the end of World War Two. While writing her story, he stumbles on an old family secret.
“I was expecting something to do with the 19th century, elaborate period dresses maybe, or horses. Some bridge or other named after one of my forebears. The Batthyánys had been counts, princes, bishops. One of them was prime minister of the country in 1849, another was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II for his services to Rome as a medical doctor. So I expected something like that when I glanced at the newspaper, something harmless. Instead, I read the headline “The Hostess From Hell”, which I didn’t understand, but I recognized the woman in the photograph at once. Aunt Margit.”
A few weeks before the end of the war, Countess Margit Thyssen-Batthyany hosted a lavish party in the Austrian town of Rechnitz. At around midnight, the guests left the castle and shot dead 180 Jews who were waiting for their deportation to the camps. Exactly what happened that night is still not known even today. Sacha Batthyany’s aunt remained silent all her life. “And what,” asked author Maxim Biller, "has that to do with you?"
The author started searching for more information. His journey took him to pre-war Hungary, post-war Austria, present-day Switzerland, a Gulag camp in Siberia, to the living room of an Auschwitz survivor in South America – and even to the couch of a pipe-smoking psychoanalyst. In the course of his travels, he stumbled on a secret that changed his view of his family and of himself.
Do previous generations define the way we live? Are we all “war grandchildren”? Even though we thought we were so enlightened, so modern and detached? Sacha Batthyany’s book is an unusual family chronicle and at the same time the psychogram of a generation.
release: 18. February 2016
256 pages, gebunden mit SU
- 19,99 €
- 0,00 sFr
- 20,60 €
Czech Republic: Host / Denmark: People’s Press / Finland: Aula & Co. / France: Gallimard / Great Britain: Quercus (World English rights) / Hungary: Helikon / Israel: Schocken Publishing House / Italy: Rizzoli / Japan: under negotiation / Netherlands: Hollands Diep / Norway: Forlaget Press / Poland: Czytelnik / Romania: Publica / Spain: Seix Barral / Sweden: Weyler Förlag/ USA: Perseus/ Da Capo (sublicensed by British Publisher)
About the Author
Sacha Batthyany, born 1973, studied sociology in Zürich and Madrid, was a news editor for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and has worked for the MAGAZIN supplement of the Tages-Anzeiger since 2010. He is a lecturer at the Schweizer Journalistenschule and this year moved to Washington, D.C. where he reports on political and social affairs as a correspondent for the Tages-Anzeiger and Süddeutsche Zeitung. He was awarded scholarships from the UBS Kulturstiftung, Goethe-Stiftung Zürich and Literaturförderung des Kantons Zürich for excerpts from his book.