Adventures in Wartime Hungary
By Ralph Brewster
Published: 2022; edition: 1; pages: 408
‘This country is like a little island, where the people live so happily, as if nothing was wrong with the world…’ When Ralph Brewster wrote those lines, in the summer of 1943, Hungary’s involvement in WWII was still barely felt in Budapest. Less than a year later the Nazis took over. Born an American but given Italian nationality as a childthe ‘Wrong Passport’ of the titleBrewster refused to return ‘home’ to Italy to fi ght for Mussolini. Instead he went into hiding in Budapest and his story of life in a country at war, resorting to ever more desperate measures to dodge detection, makes fascinating reading. As Fascists tighten their grip and the Soviets begin their advance, the oncecarefree city of coffee houses, concert halls and thermal baths is torn apart and Brewster’s world disintegrates, together with that of his extraordinary cast of characters: the Archimandrite, the art-dealer spy, the cinema impresario, the Jewish philosophy student who refuses to wear the yellow star and the real-life ‘English Patient’.
Originally published in 1954, Wrong Passport is reissued now for the first time in Somerset Books’ new Blue Danube imprint. With extensive notes bringing the context and historic background to life and tracing the subsequent fortunes of Brewster and his friends.