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By Thomas Otto Hecht as told to Joe King
“The German army moved into the city [Paris] at seven the next morning; the Hechts had a margin of escape of only 19 hours!” This book speaks of life as it once was in Bratislava and its Jewish community. It describes the trials and tribulations to escape the horrors of the Nazis by the Hecht family. The family’s struggles in finding a new home in the New World are examined, leading ultimately to a flourishing pharmaceutical business and successful integration into the Canadian Jewish community. From Bratislava, to Paris, to Nice, to Lisbon, where the Hecht family finally boarded the Serpa Pinto, which set sail with 900 other refugees. The journey ended on 1 January 1942, when the family of Eugene Hecht – wife, Sidonie – daughter, Madeleine, and 12 year old Thomas Otto arrived by train at the Bonaventure Station in Montreal after a harrowing three year odyssey in war-stricken Europe. After retiring from business in 1995, Thomas Hecht blended his academic underpinnings with his deep interest in the security of Israel to found the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University in 1993. He had effectively launched a third career. “Upon reflection”, states Hecht, “I consider it to be a unique honour and privilege to have had the opportunity to be involved in the struggle for Jewish renaissance after the Shoah and to be able to contribute in some measure to the preservation of Jewish identity and survival with the love of Israel as my deep inspiration.”
Edited by Daniel Fraenkel
Anna Szalai, Rita Horváth, Gábor Balázs