Judit Kováts’s previous book, Expelled, concerned the fate of the German minorities expelled from Slovakia after World War II, seen through the story of Lilli Hartmann, a girl from Kežmarok (Hungarian Késmárk, German Käsmark). Children of the Tatra Mountains finds Lilli on a liner on her way to the United States with her new family: her husband, an adopted son, and a book of legends of the Tatras. As she leaves old Késmárk and the Tatra mountains steadily further behind, the past surfaces again and again in the form of memories and dreams, as well as stories.
Memories of hikes before the war and of the anguish of deportation are repeatedly interrupted by the stories: of the poverty-stricken folk of the Tatras, of Huschwai, the spirit of the Tatras, the caves with hidden treasure, and the glacial lakes that are formed of a mother’s tears. Meanwhile, the liner with the family on it steadily nears the New World, and when they land in New York Lilli must once again try to come to terms with her past.
In the pages of Children of the Tatra Mountains we are in transit throughout. Travelling between the Old World and the New, through the upheavals of twentieth-century Central Europe, between past and present and, above all, between reality and the life of the mind.
Writing a story in words is possible whether in one’s head, with a pen, on a typewriter, in a POW camp, in the loft of a Munich flat, or in America – and what we start, we must finish. Those were Papa’s words to me before he died, as he urged me to set myself a consequential goal, because being branded guilty by decree, hounded from house and home, and planted amid strangers makes one neither a pariah nor a second-class German!
ISBN 978 963 1441 73 4
2022, hard cover with jacket
288 pages, 125×30 mm