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fromDa Capo Press

A Crime in the Family

A World War II Secret Buried in Silence--and My Search for the Truth

By Sacha Batthyany


In the spring of 1945, on the Austrian-Hungarian border, not far from the front lines of the advancing Red Army, Countess Margit Batthyany gave a party in her mansion. The war was almost over, and the German aristocrats and SS officers dancing and drinking knew it was lost. Late that night, they walked down to the village, where 180 enslaved Jewish laborers waited, made them strip naked, and shot them all, before returning to the bright lights of the party. It remained a secret for decades, until Sacha Batthyany, who remembered his great-aunt Margit only vaguely from his childhood as a stern, distant woman, began to ask questions about it.

A Crime in the Family is Sacha Batthyany's memoir of confronting these questions, and of the answers he found. It is one of the last untold stories of Europe's nightmare century that witnessed not just the inhumanity of Auschwitz, the chaos of wartime Budapest, and the brutalities of Soviet occupation, but also the countless silent crimes of complicity and cover-up. In its wake are the damaged generations it left behind.

Told partly through the surviving journals of others from the author's family and the vanished world of Hitler's heartland, A Crime in the Family is a moving and revelatory memoir, revealing barbarity and tragedy but also a measure of peace and reconciliation.
Sacha Batthyany was born in Switzerland in 1973 to Hungarian emigre parents. He was an editor at the Neue Zurcher Zeitung and is now a political reporter for the Suddeutsche Zeitung, based in Washington, DC.
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