The author of this diary was my mother, Mrs. Susan Kaszas. She was born in 1920, in Györ, Hungary, the largest city in the western part of the country, only half an hour from Vienna, Austria. She came from the Böhm line of our family.
She married my father, Alexander Kaszas (Cohen) in 1942 and moved to Tapolca, a small town north of Lake Balaton. By that time anti- Jewish laws were in full force in Hungary too. My father was taken away to a forced labor camp and my mother to Auschwitz in 1944, along with their families. The small general store and everything else they had were also stolen away from them.
My mother returned to Hungary in April of 1945. She did find my father and a few remaining family members and friends. About 95% of her and my father's families perished in the Holocaust.
They started to rebuild their lives and lost everything again when the Communists nationalized their country store in 1949. This forced them to move to Budapest, the capital, where they lived in the Stalinist Hell till the revolution of 1956 and the Goulash Communism which followed. During these years my mother had three heart attacks, yet she carried on at full speed, making sure they could raise me under the best circumstances possible.
Her reward was the times she could come to visit my new family in America, especially her two grandchildren. My father died in 1975; she passed away in 1990, right after her 70th birthday.
Steven, Judy, and Mark Kingsley
Her son and grandchildren
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In her epic love story Susan Kaszas describes with touching directness, what it feels like to be taken from one's family, to be beaten, cursed at, poisoned, and to witness unspeakable, systematic cruelty. But the hardest aspect of her personal and collective hell was being separated from her one love, her husband, Alex. From Love to Triumph is a love letter to Alex.
It is this love that persists throughout her writing, as the unbreakable golden thread that binds her to life when she is tempted to escape into suicide. Her passionate commitment to her love permeates every day of fear and suffering. It is so strong, she is even more concerned about Alex than about herself, while she is forced into the cattle box cars heading for the concentration camps. She says, "It made it easier on me that you did not get to see the long stretch of cattle box cars we were herded into and I was spared of looking at the expression on your face."
The total devotedness of her heart to Alex gave her the strength to survive the Nazi death camps. The faithfulness of her undying love shines through: "My Dear Alex, you must know that I can't live without love and the only reason I am still alive is that I want to be with you again in this life. If you love me as much as I love you, then my suffering was not in vain."
But the cruelty of the Nazis was not as bad as the psychological torture she had endured while living with Alex's family before the holocaust. She says, "Here I knew the reason for my suffering - I was a Jew. But it had hurt me so much more at home, when I couldn't fathom the reason for being tormented by your mother and her side of the family so savagely. I remember how hard I'd had to fight my mother-in-law and her ilk for my sanity, while here in Birkenau, Poland, in the midst of the worst concentration camp where people were being mass-butchered, the flames were always visible from the throat of the crematorium and bloodhounds ran rampant, I was in so much better shape emotionally than when she'd been around."
Love is something that cannot be killed. The body can be crushed, the psyche can be beaten down, but nothing can take love away from the human heart against one's will. That is the meaning and purpose of Susan's survival and triumph.
From Love to Triumph is the renamed and updated edition of A Mother's Shoah, released first in 1999. Our aim in publishing this second edition is still the same: We want to make sure that every one of us stands up and says, when confronted with any kind of organized or state sponsored cruelty and inhumanity:
It is in this spirit that we donate the net proceeds from sales and licensing to the HIAS and the Third Temple Foundation.