Introduction by Bella Brodzki
To survive the long shadow of the Third Reich, many children were placed in hiding, forced to keep their true identities—names, religion, places of birth, even gender—secret. Among these "hidden children" was Evelyne Juliette, born in Paris to privileged Hungarian immigrants of high intellect and great passion. Scarcely a year following her birth, France would fall to the Nazis, plunging Europe further into chaos and placing Evi's family among hundreds of thousands on the run. Her father, forced to go underground, never again emerged. Her mother, the indomitable Magda, managed to send her young daughter to temporary safety before being imprisoned in a forced labor camp. Evi, just barely three, was eventually brought by an aunt to Budapest under her cousin's passport. "Claude Pollak" would be only the first of many false identities assumed to protect the shattered remnants of this young child's life.
Brimming with novelistic detail, vivid characterizations, and a sharply observed emotional terrain, Magda's Daughter depicts, in the words of the author herself, the life of a "perpetual refugee," forced by historical circumstance to live in rootless exile, while yearning for something she never really knew—life "before." Evi Blaikie, a gifted storyteller, writes against the limits of language and defies traditional definitions of "survivorship," while reminding us that no war is ever over until the last survivor is gone.
"A heartbreaking memoir. . . . [With] devastatingly lucid, precise writing, Blaikie pays a loving tribute to the extended family who raised her and powerfully bears witness to a part of history that cannot be forgotten."
"A compelling and gripping memoir of one woman's journey toward self. Rarely do we get to witness and travel in such powerful company. Blaikie takes the experience of perpetual exile and makes it immediate, even urgent, with language that is full of frustration and grief, humor and forgiveness. We are indebted to her for the journey and for leading the way."
"As a hidden child, Evi Blaikie endured a fate that was different from what camp inmates experienced. . . . [But] the Shoah continued to cast a dark shadow over her life long after the war was over. How she triumphed over the pain and adversity is the subject of this book, filled not only with sadness, but also with compassion, wit, and hope."
"Magda's Daughter is a story of exile and displacement that could not be told except from a great distance, not because time heals all wounds but precisely because it doesn't."