Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Under a cruel star: A life in Prague 1941 -
by Heda Margolius Kovály, Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc.
Reviewed by Nathan Harter
The anniversary of the Velvet Revolution is
a good time to revisit the drama stretching from Nazi occupation of
Czechoslovakia through Stalinist oppression, leading up to the
famous (or infamous) Prague Spring of 1968. This history sets the
context for the Charter 77 movement that finally prevailed twenty
In simple, memorable prose, this Jewish author opens her memoirs
becoming a prisoner of the Third Reich, escaping overland for
Prague, only to find many doors there closed to her. After the war,
Czechoslovakia became a satellite of the Soviet Union, and the
author's husband rose quickly to become a significant public
official and true believer in the ideals of communism. Increasingly
uneasy, however, Heda Margolius felt the strain of politics, until
the day when the regime found it useful to prosecute her husband in
one of that era's show trials. Bearing the stigma of his falsely
obtained conviction, she found life as a single mother burdensome
again, retaining little motivation to stay in her homeland after
the Warsaw Pact crushed an uprising that had blossomed in the
capital city in 1968.
With a poet's voice and a reporter's eye for detail, she offers
stunning vignettes of life under unspeakable duress, suffused with
a spirit of hope until the very last page
- Nathan Harter is a College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences Board of Visitors' member at Butler University.