Hitler, Stalin and I: An Oral History

Heda Margolius Kovály (Author) Helena Treštíková (Editor)
& 1 more

Product Details

$18.95  $17.43
Doppelhouse Press
Publish Date
February 13, 2018
5.6 X 8.4 X 0.5 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Heda Margolius Kovály (1919-2010), a Czech writer and translator, was born in Prague to Jewish parents. Heda spent the years of the Second World War in a ghetto, Auschwitz and other concentration camps, escaped from a death march, and took part in the Prague uprising against the Nazis in May 1945. After the war Heda worked at various Prague publishing houses as a graphic designer. In 1952, her first husband, Rudolf Margolius (1913-1952), was convicted in the Stalinist Slánský Trial. The 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia forced Heda into exile in the United States. She translated over two dozen books and her celebrated memoir, Under a Cruel Star, was first published in 1973 and has since been translated into many languages. Her crime novel Innocence appeared in Czech in 1985 and in English in 2015. Heda returned to Prague in 1996 where she died.

Helena Trestíková is a documentary film director born in Prague and studied at the Prague Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts. Since 1974, Helena has made over fifty documentary films mostly on the themes of long term human relationships and was awarded number of prizes including the European Film Academy 2008 - Prix Arte. The film Hitler, Stalin and I, based on her interview with Heda, was first shown on Czech television in 2001 and subsequently received the Festival Award Special Commendation at the 2002 Japan Film Festival; the ELSA award for the best Czech TV documentary film by the Czech Film and Television Academy in 2002, and the Gold Kingfisher award for the best documentary film at the Festival of Czech Films, Plzen in 2003.

Ivan Margolius is an architect, translator and author of memoirs, books and articles on art, architecture, engineering, design and automobile history. Ivan, son of Rudolf and Heda, was born in Prague, where he studied architecture and in London following his arrival to the United Kingdom in 1966. He practiced architecture at Foster and Partners, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Yorke Rosenberg Mardall and collaborated on books with Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Jan Kaplický.


Oral interviews can be a gold mine for historians, and this is no exception.
- Tulsa Book Review
Based on an interview with the late writer and memoirist Heda Margolius Kovály and the basis for a film shown on Czech television, this work stands out as one of the best examples of memoir literature.... The book has extraordinary momentum, reads in 'one sitting' and, were it not a depiction of real life events, could be described as a suspense thriller.... The story is so engrossing and filled with such immediacy and realism that the narrator, speaking from the soul, instantly wins the hearts of readers.... Stories of people with admirable fortitude struggling even in the most hopeless situations with a cruel fate will always find their audience.- Jan Hofírek, Kniha.cz, "An Exceptional Life Wandering Through the Century of Horrors"
Heda's torturous path through some of the 20th century's greatest calamities is rendered with deep wisdom and a poetic eye for detail. Her misfortunes, and her perseverance through them, make Hitler, Stalin and I both an important historical account and a testament to human endurance...A Czech writer who survived the Holocaust, Stalinism and exile gives a compact, compassionate oral history of her life.
- Tobias Mutter, Shelf Awareness
Třestíková's interview and chilling newsreel footage of atrocities bring Margolius-Kovály's story to life. Her combination of determination and luck renders her almost matter-of-factly told tale extraordinary. [...] In Margolius-Kovály (who penned the 1997 memoir Under a Cruel Star: Life in Prague 1941-1968), she's found a composed, eloquent yet spunky subject whose quietly upbeat nature is inspirational and infectious.
- Eddie Cockrell, Variety
Heda had an enormous talent for expressing herself. She spoke with precision and was descriptive and witty in places. I admired her attitude and composure, even after she had such extremely difficult experiences. Nazism and Communism afflicted Heda's life directly with maximum intensity. Nevertheless, she remained an optimist.
- Helena Trestíková
Heda Margolius Kovály was a well-known writer and translator who survived the Auschwitz extermination camp and whose first husband, Rudolf Margolius, a deputy minister of foreign trade, was found guilty in the notorious Slánský show trials in what is one of the darkest chapters in Czechoslovak history. Kovály's oral history should be required reading for anyone learning about the Holocaust and crimes committed by Czechoslovakia's communist regime. It also offers a glimpse into Czechoslovakia's First Republic. [...] Her descriptions are unforgettable.
- Jan Velinger, Radio Prague
A story written by life itself. [...] After all the hardships, Ms. Kovály remained someone with an open mind and many truths echo in her life story. The book is difficult to tear yourself away from until you finish the last page. This emotionally charged story, yet realistic and without embellishment, will not leave you in peace.
- Kamila Pětrasová, Kultura 21
In today's political climate of rising extremist ideologies and nationalist tendencies, a new book, Hitler, Stalin and I, is an oral history that examines persecutions rooted in strong political rhetoric of exclusion. Czech author and Holocaust survivor, Heda Margolius Kovály [... gives] a panoramic view of life-long survival in the face of despair and violence, while retaining optimism and faith in the better angels of human nature.
- Frank Shatz, former correspondent for the Hungarian News Agency, The Virginia Gazette
Kovály's story is engrossing, immediate and real. Kovály speaks from within, from her soul and pulls us into her life. I actually read the book in one sitting because I did not feel I could or wanted to stop. Prepare yourselves for an emotional read.
- Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amo Lassen--Amos Lassen
It is hard to imagine a reader who would not be inspired by the momentous life of Heda Margolius depicted in Hitler, Stalin and I. [... The book] is at once a harrowing journey, a kaleidoscope of images and sounds. If a reader truly hears the haunting words as if they are spoken one can begin to understand that this life and death human drama is not just about one survivor but a meaningful observation of an even more significant story about the bloody outcomes of extremism.
- Laura Schultz, New York Journal of Books
A compelling read, appalling and inspiring, tragic and hopeful. Heda's voice comes through incredibly strongly and my admiration for her clear headed courage and determination is very deep. Full marks to the interviewer for her part in getting Heda's testimony on the record. The words and tone of voice do not strike a false note. The translation reads simply and without affect. I cannot begin to imagine what reading and re-reading about Rudolf's murder must have been like. What degrading times they were [...] I am very pleased - if that is the word - to have read it.
- Sir John Tusa, presenter of BBC 2's Newsnight(1980-1986) and managing director of BBC World Service (1986-1993)