When we interviewed Judit Kinszki, she told us, "All my life I've been waiting to find someone who I could tell about my father. Because he was taken from me at such a young age, I feel that when I describe him, I can draw closer to him."
Judit takes us back to the early days of the 20th century. The Kinszkis were upper-middle-class, highly educated, and hardly observed Jewish traditions at all. The Gardonyis were a lower middle class family determined to secure good careers for their children and religiously observant. When Imre Kinszki announced that he wanted to marry Ilona Gardonyi, his family had her fired from her job! Which is all it took for Imre to hunt her down and propose marriage on the spot.
Imre and Ilona had two children--Gabor was born in 1926, Judit in 1934. Judit's biography is one of our most affecting, telling us just how badly a middle class Jewish family suffered as the skies darkened around them. Judit and her mother survived the Budapest ghetto. Gabor and Imre were taken away and perished.
Imre Kinszki, by the way, was more than an amateur photographer. His images, which ten year old Judit saved in the Budapest ghetto, are now considered modernist masterpieces. A tragic story of a family destroyed, and a budding career cut short.
The Kinszki family lived in Budapest, Hungary's capital city. Prior to 1918, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Empire was formed in 1867 under Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, combining the power of Hapsburg-led Austria with that of Hungary. The Empire also included Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Slovakia, as well as part of what are now Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
The Second World War began in September 1939, when the German army invaded and occupied Poland. France and Britain, Poland's allies, responded by declaring war on Germany. Large numbers of Polish refugees escaped to Romania, many going on to the West, where the Free Polish Forces were formed to fight against the Axis Alliance.
Following the end of the war, Hungary lost the territory it had gained during the interwar period and war years. After four years of political uncertainty, the Hungarian Constitution of 1949 established Hungary as a Soviet-style communist state. Mátyás Rákosi was the first leader of post-war communist Hungary, and had been a founding member of the Hungarian Communist Party in 1918. Though he himself was Jewish, he had a complex relationship with popular anti-Semitism.
Judit's father Imre Kinszki, was a noted modernist photographer. He began developing his artistic style taking photos of everyday objects around his home, and soon began capturing images around the city of Budapest. See some of his work.