Holocaust survivor’s letters led to love, and a movie

Fri Oct 16, 2015 8:46am EDT
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By Balazs Koranyi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Diagnosed with lung disease and given six months to live, Hungarian Holocaust survivor Miklos Gardos was determined to find love in the short time the doctors said he had left.

Taken to a Swedish hospital from a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, Gardos wrote letters to 117 Hungarian women at hospitals across the Nordic country, claiming to have known them back home.

Now the story about how he found the woman of his dreams, another camp survivor, by sending those letters to complete strangers, is told in a movie made by his film director son.

"When my father died, my mom handed me two piles of letters tied with a blue and a scarlet ribbon," Peter Gardos, 67, who read his parents' letters in a single night but struggled for 17 years to turn them into a novel and then a film, told Reuters.

His movie "Fever at Dawn" opens in December.

Left among the dead in the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, Agnes had survived only because a Swedish doctor noticed her finger move.

Bored in another hospital, the young Agnes wrote back to Gardos, mostly for her own entertainment. The two exchanged hundreds of letters before marrying a year later, only to bury their correspondence and turbulent past for the next half a century.

"They had to keep their secret because revealing the story would have meant revealing how they got there, like how my father had to burn corpses at the concentration camp or how my mother fought for scraps of potato peel," Gardos said.   Continued...

Hungarian author Peter Gardos speaks about his book "Fever at Dawn", the story of his parents who met in Sweden in 1945 while recuperating after surviving the Holocaust, at the Frankfurt book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Balazs Koranyi