|Robert Kemeny has been haunted all his life by his childhood experiences during the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Hungary. His family has had his writings made into three books as a way of preserving his memories for future generations.|
Robert and his immediate family survived, but after the Nazis came the Soviet occupation and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; Robert and his mother barely escaped Hungary through the snowfields into Austria. But it wasn't his last taste of political upheaval; he was running a copper mine in Chile for his uncle when Allende took over and nationalized the industry.
Dramatic stories, the stuff of movies and fiction, but for Robert and his family, their real history. With the encouragement of his family, that once-nine-year-old boy terrified at watching the Nazi motorcycles tear up and down his Budapest street sat down at a computer in his later years and poured out his memories.
Last summer and fall, I learned every detail of that story as I copy-edited his memoirs for his publisher, LifeTree Media. The result is three handsome burgundy-red volumes that arrived in my mailbox the other day -- a beautifully designed coffee table book, a 600-page memoir and a 230-page collection of reflections and speeches.
The books are for the family only, a means of passing on Robert's remarkable life story to future generations. I never met or spoke with Robert or his family, but in my close reading of those 800-plus pages, I felt I got to know him well. As I thought about that child left behind when his parents went off to their possible deaths, I could only be impressed at someone who created a full life for himself in spite of such a beginning. And appreciate that my own life has been so wonderfully dull.