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legacy of rescue

Source: Review copy from Smith Publicity
Rating: ★★★★☆

I turned to Dad and asked him if he had any feelings hearing German.

“No, why should I?  You can’t blame an entire people for what happened.  I want to be for peace.”

(from Legacy of Rescue, page 95)

Legacy of Rescue is Marta Fuchs’ tribute to her late father, Morton (Miksa) Fuchs, and the man who saved his life during World War II.  Miksa Fuchs, a Jew from Tokaj, Hungary, was sent to a labor camp in 1940.  In early 1945, the Hungarian officer overseeing the Jewish workers was ordered to give them over to the Germans.  The officer, Zoltán Kubinyi, an honest man and a devote Seventh Day Adventist, ignored the order, returned the men to Hungary, and later — when he refused to change out of his uniform into civilian clothes — was taken prisoner by the Russians.  Fuchs and her family never forgot how this man, with a wife and son back home, sacrificed his life to save more than 100 Jewish men from certain death.

The book is very conversational in tone, and thus, very readable.  Fuchs’ father tells his own story here, and you can just feel the passion and strength in his words. Fuchs’ mother and aunts also contribute stories in their own words about their arrival in Auschwitz and their return to Tokaj after the war.  The inclusion of family photos throughout the book helps readers get to know Fuchs and her family and honors those who did not survive.

Fuchs offers her own reflections on fleeing Hungary as a child at the start of the revolution in 1956, talking about the Holocaust with her young son for the first time, meeting Kubinyi’s son, and returning to Tokaj to honor the town’s Jews 50 years after they were rounded up and deported.  Her older brother, Henry, narrates part of the story as well, and reflections from her children and Henry’s children add the voices of a generation far removed from the horrors of the Holocaust but affected by them as well.

Legacy of Rescue is unique among the Holocaust memoirs I’ve read because it is filled with goodness and hope.  There are no graphic depictions of life in the camps, and even though a sense of loss permeates the story, it is really an outpouring of gratitude and a celebration of life.  Fuchs and her family know that the only reason they are alive is because of one man’s selfless act.  This quote, from when Fuchs met Kubinyi’s son, sums up the book beautifully and brought tears to my eyes:

I want to thank you for your father.  I am here in this world because of what he did in saving my father.  But you didn’t have a father to love you and raise you like I had.  (page 122)

Legacy of Rescue may be a short book, but it’s not one you’ll soon forget.  One man stayed true to himself and his beliefs and gave his life to save others.  Another man recognized the chance he was given and emerged from an experience too terrible to comprehend to live a life filled with love.  I think we need stories like this, especially when so much hatred remains in this world.  Fuchs emphasizes that there are good people out there, and we should let their example guide us — and in Legacy of Rescue, these amazing people live on.  I know many people refuse to read books about the Holocaust because they are too painful, so I highly recommend this uplifting story about courage, love, honor, and remembrance.

Disclosure: I received Legacy of Rescue from Smith Publicity for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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