As the story moves between past and present, we observe both the best and the worst of human behaviour Betrayal and heroism, passion and vengeance, human frailty each have a part to play in this story Annika is searching for both the truth of the past and her own place in the world Marika has secrets she d rather not share And the name of Mikl s Nagy is both venerated and vilified Can a man be both a hero and a traitor I wondered what I might have done in his situation Perhaps no sin is unforgiveable if you can understand the sinner I found this a difficult novel to read Many of Mikl s Nagy s actions were heroic, some were misunderstood, others had unintended consequences By the end of the novel, I was simultaneously filled with admiration for what Mikl s Nagy had achieved and saddened that he could not achieve This novel was inspired by and is based on the story of Rezs Kasztner, who remains a controversial figure in Israel.
Diane Armstrong is a child Holocaust survivor who arrived in Australia from Poland in 1948 This is the second of her books I have read, and I have added the others to my reading list.
Note My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Jennifer Cameron Smith I can never resist a good story set during WWII, especially one that explores lesser known historical events during that dark time in history Diane Armstrong s latest book, THE COLLABORATOR, falls firmly into that category Inspired by real happenings and people, her captivating story focuses on the fate of 1500 Hungarian Jews who were saved from certain death in German concentration camps by the actions of one man who will later have to stand trial for being a Nazi collaborator Hero or traitor How can one and the same action be considered to be both, depending on how you look at it It was immediately obvious that Armstrong has done A LOT of research into her topic, as her story is peppered with facts and historical details that opened my eyes to political events that had somehow slipped under the radar for me If history lessons had been as captivating as this book, I would certainly have known about the fate of the many Jewish people who managed to escape the Nazi death camps and started their new lives in Israel, facing a whole new set of challenges after the war was over Armstrong seamlessly weaves historical fact with fiction, with characters that practically leap off the pages, take the reader by the hand and draw them into their world I feel like I learned so much by reading this story Narrated in a dual timeline format, one part of the story is being told through the eyes of Annika, an Australian journalist trying to find out the truth about Miklos Nagy, the man who allegedly saved her grandmother s life together with 1500 other Jews during the war Since her grandmother remains tight lipped about the subject, Annika decides to go to Hungary where her grandmother was living during the war She thus embarks on a journey that will take her from Hungary to Israel, only to uncover a remarkable and heart breaking story of love, courage and betrayal.
The second timeline, set during the war, explores the very events Annika is investigating, and is narrated through the eyes of Miklos Nagy himself, a man who is lauded as hero by some, traitor by others Personally, I connected with Annika s story, and related to her quest to uncover some truths about her grandmother s past I have worked with numerous holocaust survivors, whose families never knew about the terrible tragedies they had suffered, so Annika s grandmother s silence on the subject rang true for me, as did her quest for answers Whilst I found Miklos Nagy s chapters fascinating and eye opening, they also felt a bit detached and at times heavy with historical facts This is not a criticism, merely a caution to readers to allow time to digest the story rather than expecting a quick entertaining read I found myself looking up facts about Hungary and the fate of its Jewish population because I felt I needed to understand the context and I am grateful to have learned from the story as well as appreciating the armchair time travel.
All in all, The Collaborator was a well researched, interesting and thought provoking novel based on real life persons and events that explored a chapter of WWII history not often touched upon in historical fiction I found it relevant and educational as well as deeply moving, and recommend it to all lovers of the genre.
5 stars Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.
blog facebook instagram Is He A Hero Or A Traitor Based On Astonishing True Events Set In The Darkest Days Of World War II In Budapest, This Is An Enthralling Story Of Heroism, Vengeance, Passion, And Betrayal It Is Also The Story Of Three Women Linked By A Secret That Threatens To Destroy Their Lives For Readers Of The Tattooist Of Auschwitz, All That I Am And Schindler S Ark List An Act Of Heroism, The Taint Of Collaboration, A Doomed Love Affair, And An Australian Woman Who Travels Across The World To Discover The TruthIt Is In Budapest And The Germans Have Invaded Jewish Journalist Miklos Nagy Risks His Life And Confronts The Dreaded Adolf Eichmann In An Attempt Save Thousands Of Hungarian Jews From The Death Camps But No One Could Have Foreseen The ConsequencesIt Is In Sydney, And Annika Barnett Sets Out On A Journey That Takes Her To Budapest And Tel Aviv To Discover The Truth About The Mysterious Man Who Rescued Her Grandmother In By The Time Her Odyssey Is Over, History Has Been Turned On Its Head, Past And Present Collide, And The Secret That Has Poisoned The Lives Of Three Generations Is Finally Revealed In A Shocking Climax That Holds The Key To Their RedemptionAISE FOR DIANE ARMSTRONG S FICTION A Cleverly Crafted Mystery A Good Story, Well Told Armstrong S Skill In Weaving An Elaborate Fabric Out Of Her Characters And Subject Matter Stand Her In Good Steadthe Bleak Wintry Landscapes Of The Polish Countryside Are Vividly Captured Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald Like Geraldine Brooks, Diane Armstrong S Historical Research Is Expertly Woven Into The Fabric Of A Fictional Tale, Providing An Engrossing Faction Of Heroism And Resilience Which Will Appeal To Both Fans Of Fictional Dramatic Romantic Sagas, As Well As Lovers Of Insightful History Australian bookseller Publisher Thanks to NetGalley, Harlequin Australia and Diane Armstrong for giving me the chance to read and review her new book The Collaborator.
Budapest 1944, Miklos Nagy is a Jewish journalist he s desperately trying to save as many Hungarian Jews as he can from the death camps and he has to negotiate their safety with the dreaded Adolf Eichmann.
In 2005, Sydney journalist Annika Barnett has always wondered how her grandmother Marika, survived the Holocaust and what happened to her during WW II Her grandmother will never discuss her past and Annika has no idea how her Nana ended up living in Australia She decides to travel to Budapest and eventually makes her way to Tel Aviv What she discovers effects all three generations of her family and she finds out about her grandmothers secret past.
The books is a long one, it s really a historical family saga about heroism, betrayal, passion and secrets Was Miklos Nagy a hero or a traitor I gave The Collaborator 3 stars, I m sorry but I found the story very long, tedious and I was glad when I reached the end I shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Australian and my blog.
com There are many elements to this book that make it a compelling read The author is to be commended for creating a good balance in the book with regards to the politics of Israel.
Annika Barnett in 2005 is at loose ends, frustrated with a job that she finds unfulfilling and after much pondering she makes the decision to resign On visiting her grandmother and referring to a recent television program where survivors of the Holocaust had been encouraged to tell their stories Annika questions her grandmother as to why this part of her life is a closed book With her grandmother not budging from her decision and now having time on her hands Annika decides to visit the Jewish Museum Even though she was schooled at a private Christian Girls School the family does not practice any religion, her grandmother has rejected her Jewish background The thought of being able to find out about this time in her grandmother s life intrigues her During this visit an old photograph of a group of people is on display which includes Mikl s Nagy the acclaimed Hero of Hungary To Annika s amazement it also reveals a young woman she recognises as that of her grandmother, Marika Horvath Armed with this information she confronts her grandmother who is even adamant and that the name of Mikl s Nagy is not to be discussed ever Her grandmother has had a successful life and Annika is perplexed with her attitude Her discussions with her own mother do nothing to resolve things She makes the decision to travel to Budapest to see what she can discover about the connection between her grandmother, the hero Mikl s Nagy and the 1500 Hungarian Jews that he saved from the Nazis Annika s journey takes on than she anticipates as it s not only a discovery of her grandmother s history of the desperate times in which she lived, it is also a discovery of herself and where she travels further onto Israel.
1944 and Mikl s Nagy is a tormented man His dealings with Adolph Eichmann are proving to be almost beyond all human endeavours The Nazis are losing the war but Eichmann is still determined to continue sending Jews to Auschwitz It s the first meeting with Eichmann and Mikl s is handed a plan from Eichmann himself, get him trucks and he will allow some Jews to leave the country Eichmann has chosen 2 men to travel to Istanbul, one of which is Mikl s friend G bor Weisz who is the negotiator for the Istanbul mission He has a beautiful and charming wife that he is worried about leaving behind Mikl s rather unwisely complicates his life further by becoming romantically involved with G bor s wife Even as events are hanging by a thread through linking families he has managed to bulk up the numbers for the train that would leave the country for Switzerland but sadly this has also meant that many would be left behind resulting in certain death.
1952, Isaiah Fleischmann in Tel Aviv is a tormented man, his disillusionment of his new country is compounded by his hatred of Mikl s Nagy Isaiah s mother and sister were not chosen in the 1500 count for the train to escape the Nazis and died in Auschwitz Out of the blue a newspaper article presents him with the ammunition to unmask this fake hero as a man who had collaborated with the Nazis and for Isaiah to avenge the deaths of his mother and sister.
The trial of Mikl s is complicated by the fact that it s the government that takes the action to court on Mikl s behalf against Isaiah which is further complicated by Isaiah s lawyer that also has an axe to grind Annika returns to Sydney with a greater understanding of events surrounding her grandmother s life and the reasons for her reinvention when arriving in her new country When all is revealed a great outpouring of truth, sadness and relief occurs.
The facts underlying this novel are very interesting, spinning a fictitious love story around it just doesn t work for me with these kind of subjects It feels too much as if the holocaust has to be sold to people by wrapping it in some sugar coating.
The factual history of Jewish Hungarian, Rezso Kasztner, is astounding In 1944 he bravely confronted Eichmann and negotiated the rescue of over 1000 Jewish Hungarians from certain death and deportation to Auschwitz The deal succeeded in transporting these Jews on a rescue train to Switzerland and to safety However, Kasztner was later accused of having collaborated with the Nazis, a court case following that would bring down the Israeli government of the time and seal his tragic fate.
And yet, despite this intriguing and complex story, The Collaborator falls flat in Armstrong s 465 page fictionalised adaptation Her target audience seemed so broad that the writing became simplistic, appealing to those interested in a sentimental love story or three and to those who lacked than a basic inkling about the Holocaust or about Israel Her invented characters diluted, rather than enhanced the background story and moved it to pure melodrama in its last stages Very disappointing I always enjoy historical novels based on real people and events In 1944 a Jewish businessman, Rudolf Kastner, was able to rescue a trainload of over 1600 Hungarian Jews from being sent to German gas chambers through negotiating with Adolf Eichmann to set them free in exchange for the possibility of tanks to fight the Russians as well as money and jewelry The Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee selected Jews from all areas of society to send to Switzerland with Kastner able to include members of his family and some Jews from his home village After the war when Kastner had settled become a civil servant in Israel, he would be accused of collaborating with the Germans by not warning the remaining Hungarian Jews that they would be sent to death camps Diane Armstrong s novel tells a fictionalised version of Kastner s miracle train, through the investigations of a young Australian woman whose grandmother was one it s lucky passengers Annika, a journalist could never get her grandmother to tell her story of how she escaped from Hungary during WW2 so she is fascinated when she visits a Jewish museum and hears about the train and sees her grandmother in a photo of its passengers arriving in Switzerland With some time on her hand after resigning from her job, Annika decides to visit Budapest to learn about her grandmother s story and the businessman given the fictional name Miklos Nagy in the novel who rescued a trainload of Jews from certain death Her investigations will eventually take her to Tel Aviv where she will learn her grandmother s secret and a revelation that will alter the course of her life.
This is a very well researched and carefully crafted historical mystery, all the enjoyable because it is based on a true story Of course all history is biased by the narrator s viewpoint, and is particularly where Israeli politics and history is involved We ll never really know what Kastner had to do to convince Eichmann to allow a trainload of Jews to escape to Switzerland, but he does appear to have been wrongly accused of collaboration He was certainly a hero for those allowed on the train and there was nothing Kastner or his committee could have done to stop the Germans from sending the remaining Hungarian Jews to the gas chambers This is a long book, perhaps a little longer than needed, but it makes for a fascinating tale of courage and resiliance, expertly interwoven in the story of a young woman discovering her family s roots and finding love and a new life along the way With thanks to Netaglley and Harlequin Australia for an advance copy to read
Annika headed first to Budapest, then on to Israel and her search for answers left her with many questions But the horrors of the Holocaust the bravery of Miklos Nagy and the arrogance and evil of Adolf Eichmann was just the beginning Annika s journalistic determination as she scoured for the truth to those horrific days and the events following led her to many people When she finally uncovered the secrets, she knew it was time to head home She needed to see her mother and grandmother and tell them the story The Collaborator is a fascinating historical fiction novel by Aussie author Diane Armstrong which is set over two time frames Miklos Nagy tells his side of the story from 1944 onwards, while Annika narrates in 2005 The Collaborator is based on fact and the research by Ms Armstrong has been intense She explains in the Author s Notes at the end of the book and I was intrigued as well as horrified This is my second read by this author with Winter Journey being my first, and I ve loved them both An excellent writer, I ll definitely be reading Highly recommended.
With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.