Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Georgina: Holocaust Memoirs is a non-fiction memoir written by Gabriella Kovac and Oliver R. Shead. Georgina was a force of nature. She had been raised by her successful father to believe that she had a protective bubble around her; he had impressed it upon her repeatedly as the two were driving home from his mill in the family’s Rolls Royce. Vilmos, her father, was the son of a Scot who fell in love with a Hungarian Jew, converted, and spent the rest of his life in her native country. Hungary was torn at the seams by politics and the vagaries of war, and Jews were in particularly precarious positions at the best of times between the two World Wars, owing to widespread anti-Semitism and stresses over Communism. But, at first, those issues seemed not to affect Vilmos Glasgall, his wife, Irma, and their two children, Andor and Georgina. Georgina met her soon-to-be husband outside his bicycle shop, and their marriage festivities seemed out of proportion to some guests when considering the escalating perils. Shortly thereafter, a virulently pro-German and anti-Semitic former ambassador to Berlin was appointed as the Prime Minister of Hungary, and one of his first acts was to begin working with SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann to carry out The Final Solution in Hungary. Irma refused to deny her Jewish heritage and wore her yellow star, but Georgina was determined to survive by any means possible.
Gabriella Kovac and Oliver R. Shead’s non-fiction memoir, Georgina: Holocaust Memoirs, is a gripping and suspenseful look at the history of Hungary during the early and mid-20th century and the plight of Jews in that country between the First and Second World Wars. Gabriella, Georgina’s daughter, weaves her family’s tale with precision and grace, sharing parts of Holocaust history that are lesser known to most. I have long been a student of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and found that Kovac and Shead’s narrative illuminated unfamiliar landscapes in this tragic and ugly part of history. Georgina is a marvel, truly a force of nature who combines courage, ingenuity and certainty in exactly the right measures. The anecdotes and memories Kovac shares about her mother are unforgettable and poignant, and the fact that, unlike so many other survivor stories, Georgina’s family did survive intact is a triumphant note shining above the discordance of that awful time. Georgina: Holocaust Memoirs is most highly recommended.