Magazine October 14, 2019, Issue

The War-Time Diaries of Miksa Fenyő: A Little-Known Masterpiece

A German Tiger II tank in Budapest, October 1944 (Bundesarchiv/Faupel/Wikimedia Commons)
A Nation Adrift: The 1944–1945 Wartime Diaries of Miksa Fenyő, translated by Mario D. Fenyő (Helena History Press, 600 pp., $40)

Several masterpieces in several languages describe the totalitarianism that devastated 20th-century Europe, and nobody could have anticipated that at this late hour yet another might be discovered, or, more exactly, recovered. A Nation Adrift was first published in Hungarian in 1946 in the brief interlude between Nazism and Communism, and it was more or less stillborn because few non-Hungarians could read the language, fewer still cared what had happened to Hungary, and virtually nobody knew who Miksa Fenyő was. This English translation is the work of Mario, one of Miksa’s sons and by now a professor in the United States.

This article appears as “Witness to Catastrophe” in the October 14, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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