Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Exile, Loss, and Return

Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Exile, Loss, and Return
Series: April 2019 Reading List
Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
ASIN: 194459308X
ISBN: 9781944593087

On a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Margaret McMullan learns of a relative who was killed during the Holocaust. Little record of him exists, and the archivist presses her: "You are responsible now. You must remember him to honor him." And thus begins McMullan's mission to unearth Richard's story, to complete his record at the museum.

She and her family travel to Hungary on a Fulbright, and there she researches the Engel de Janosi family, her relatives who were prosperous prior to World War II. She also uncovers Hungary's shameful role in the Holocaust, and in the deaths of Richard and so many others.

As with any family history, I found it a little difficult to track the many names and relations of the people McMullan found in her research. My interest returned each time she refocused on Richard.

The question she was asked and that will be one for many readers--why Richard? why was he special?--was one of the reasons I admired her tenacity in pursuing him. He seemed quiet, unassuming, unremarkable, but he lived. And he was killed. In her research, she learned more about the man he may have been and that he wasn't as unremarkable as he may have seemed.

Millions of individuals were killed during the Holocaust, and many of their stories were lost. But one man's story was not.

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The moment she discovers the existence of Richard, a long-lost relative, at Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Margaret McMullan begins an unexpected journey of revelation and connectivity as she tirelessly researches the history of her ancestors, the Engel de Jánosis.

Propelled by a Fulbright cultural exchange that sends her to teach at a Hungarian University, Margaret, her husband and teenage son all eagerly travel to Pécs, the land of her mother’s Jewish lineage. After reaching Pécs, a Hungarian town both small and primarily Christian, Margaret realizes right then and there how difficult her mission is going to be.

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