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Book Talk: The true story of Magda Preiss

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Category: Social
Start date: 14 Nov 2020 06:00 PM
End date: 14 Nov 2020 07:00 PM
Street / Location: 5211 N Clark Street
City / town: Chicago
Country: Illinois, USA
Organizer: Swedish American Museum
Name: Elise Beck
Email: ebeck@samac.org
Phone: 773-728-8111
Homepage: www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/event/book-talk-online/

We Were Strangers
The true story of Magda Preiss

Meet Magda's sister, son, daughter-in-law and publisher who will talk about Magda, her book and its connection to Sweden. There are many books about the Holocaust but the female perspective is rare.

To register for this free event please email: museum@samac.org

Magda’s long-lost story
In the late 1940s, Magda Riederman Schloss decided to tell her life story: burdened with memories from years spent in Nazi concentration camps, she needed to get them out of her. With Magda pacing up and down the room, a friend took down her story, struggling to keep up with the rushing flow of Magda’s language. Though she was using English—her fifth or sixth language—her story poured out with passion, detail, and immediacy. She told of her idyllic childhood in a prosperous Jewish family in Hungary; she detailed her passionate romance with the elegant and charming Gustav Preiss; how at the age of 18, she married him—and, fatefully, decided to stay with him in Hungary when her family fled the dark shadow of fascism falling across Europe for the United States. Then, her tale turned darker: she described life in occupied Czechoslovakia, the creeping imposition of restrictions on Jewish life; her journey to Auschwitz and her life in the camp; and the most miraculous fact of all—that she had survived the terror and brutality of the Nazi death camps. And that she had done so without losing her pride, her dignity, her love of life.

Magda shopped her manuscript around to publishers in the years after she dictated the book. None of them were interested. Eventually, she shelved the project. Her story remained in a single type-written copy; later, a family member scanned it into a computer and generated a pdf. There it rested, a corrupted, largely illegible file on a virus-ridden hard drive. Magda’s voice was in danger of slipping out of history entirely. In 2018, Billy Schloss, Magda’s son, was walking out of Yom Kippur services when he ran into AJ Greenberg. This was the beginning of a great collaboration.