Heda Margolius Kovaly’s memoir “Under a Cruel Star” published in Persian 

December 7, 2021 - 18:25

TEHRAN – Czech writer Heda Margolius Kovaly’s memoir “Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968” has been published in Persian.

Mahi is the publisher of the book translated into Persian by Razieh Khoshnud.

The memoir was originally written in Czech and published in Canada in 1973 under the title “Na vlastni kuzi” by 68 Publishers, a well-known publishing house for Czech expatriates in Toronto. 

An English translation appeared the same year as the first part of the book The Victors and the Vanquished published by Horizon Press in New York. 

A British edition of the book excluded the second treatise and was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson under the title “I Do Not Want to Remember” in 1973.

The book is also available in Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Romanian, Spanish and the original Czech edition.

Kovaly was born in Prague. Of Jewish ancestry, she spent the years of the Second World War in the Lodz Ghetto and then in concentration camps Auschwitz and Gross Rosen sub-camps including Christianstadt. 

After her camp was evacuated, she escaped from a death march and made her way back to Prague, where many of her friends refused to take her in due to the Nazis’ harsh punishments for those sheltering camp escapees.

Kovaly took part in the Prague uprising against the Nazis in May 1945. The only member of her family to survive the war was her husband, Rudolf Margolius.

Kovály’s memoir describes in detail the continuing anti-Semitism that Jews returning from concentration camps faced. 

It also depicts the growing interest in communism among many Czechoslovaks, including her husband, who later became Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade. 

In January 1952, her husband was arrested and in November 1952, he was convicted in the Soviet-staged Slansky trial and executed on December 3, 1952. 

In the wake of her husband’s trial, Kovaly became a social pariah, barely able to survive and stay out of imprisonment as few would hire her for work, as at that time unemployment was illegal under the Czechoslovak constitution.

The book ends with the Warsaw Pact armies invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 as a response to the Prague Spring. After the invasion, Kovaly immigrated to the United States.

Photo: This combination photo shows Czech writer Heda Margolius Kovaly and the front cover of the Persian translation of her memoir “Under a Cruel Star”.

MMS/YAW

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