~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ George Schwimmer, Ph.D.
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Heddy and Me

by Susan Varga


When Adolph Eichman enters Hungary behind eight German divisions in March of 1944, the lives of all Hungarian Jews become hostages to fate.
For the next year, Heddy fights fiercely
with everything at her command to save the lives of her two small daughters. Fleeing
from one part of Hungary to another, losing her husband, father and favorite brother, she escapes the clutches of the Nazis, the Russians and the Hungarian Fascists, and finally overcomes the obstacles of trauma, separation, disease and death.
She reconstructs her life in Sydney, Australia with a new husband, but now her daughters, Susan and Judith, must come to terms with having been traumatized, uprooted, and replanted in strange soil.
This is the story of two generations caught in the web of conflict, and how each learned to cope with the inner legacies of World War II and with each other.
"I notice, and not for the first time, that
Mother glows when she talks of the war
years, whereas her face fades and strains
when we get to the present. Back then, the
stage was large, and irrational forces dictated
events. Now the wars are subtle and small
and there is never a clear victory. Fighting
your loved ones over well-worn territory.
Fighting, in a way, over the outcome of those
big years."


Budapest, 1947
Susan, Judith, Heddy
Susan, Judith, Heddy

Winner, Susan Varga, HEDDY and ME
From the judges' report:
"Heddy and Me is a thoroughly compelling nar-
rative, both autobiographical and biographical. The author, whose father died in the Holocaust when she was still a baby, left Hungary for Australia in 1948. The long, painful discovery of her Jewish Hungarian past, the life that her mother led before and during the War, and the meticulous and clear-sighted piecing together of the terrible inhumanities of the Holocaust, give this story a rare urgency and moral seriousness. Heddy and Me is a disturbing, powerfully moving, and wonderfully accomp-
lished work. It steps straight into the front rank of autobiographical writing in this country."
Canberra Times, Sara Dowse:
"This is a challenging, complex, rich, and above
all, humane book. Into the process has gone great
frankness and courage, and hard-won recognition
of the potential for destructiveness in the closest,
most loving relationships."

Susan Varga
Susan Varga

Susan Varga was born in Budapest in 1943, came to Australia with her mother, Heddy, her sister, Judith, and her stepfather, Gyuszi Varga, after the death of her father, Feri Schwimmer, in a Nazi labor camp in Hungary. She has a Masters degree in English Literature and a law degree. She has worked as a teacher, in film and video, as an arts administrator, journalist, and lawyer. She now writes full time. Heddy and Me was her first book. Published in 1994, it was immediately an Australian best-seller and has sold steadily ever since. In addition to the FAW award for biography, the book was short-listed for three other awards. It has been translated into German and Hungarian and has received critical acclaim in both countries. Heddy and Me is currently being used in several univer- sity courses in Australia and is firmly embedded in the country's literature. Ms. Varga has since written a novel, Happy Families, and collaborated with Anne Coombs on Broomtime, a book about the town of Broome.