A Crime in the Family by Sacha Batthyany

A Crime in the Family: A World War II Secret Buried in Silence–and My Search for the Truth by Sacha Batthyany is a soul-searching book about Batthyany’s search for the truth about his family in World War II.

At first, I thought the book was going to be about his Aunt Margit and the party she hosted while her guests executed 180 Jews in Rechnitz, Hungary. But, it turns out that Batthyany’s family has more than that connection with Jews during the war.

He begins with the story of his Aunt Margit and then turns to a secret that is closer to him – his great grandfather’s and grandmother’s roles in the execution of a Jewish playmate’s parents.

Batthyany tells the story of this execution as he discovers his family’s secrets and why he is the person he is today. It is a fascinating story of self-discovery because he shares his exploits and his struggles as he unravels the story of the execution.

In the end, it is a redeeming feature of the human spirit that, although we are who we are partially because of our past, it does not mean that we have to continue living with the sins of the past – whether our own or sins of our families.


A Crime in the Family Book Cover A Crime in the Family
Sacha Batthyany
Da Capo Press
October 10, 2017

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.

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

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