Monday, September 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is my great-uncle, my grandfather's brother. He was killed when the Nazis invaded Hungary. I do not know the circumstances of his death beyond that. My grandfather was the oldest of eight children, and he and the second sister came to the US before the Nazis began to gain power in Europe. The rest of the siblings were too young to leave their comfortable home in Hungary, and like most of Hungary's Jews they were among the last of Europe's Jewish population to be rounded up and killed by the Nazis.

Of the eight Kessler siblings, only one, Magda, survived the concentration camps. My grandfather was able to bring her over, along with some cousins, after the Allies defeated Hitler. I was named for Hugo, who was the youngest of the eight. My middle name is Hugh. Apparently my grandfather was extremely fond of his brother. He had bright red hair and green eyes. I don't know how old he is in this picture, but he can't be more than sixteen or seventeen. I think he was nineteen when he died.

Isn't it inviting something bad to name a newborn baby after someone who was killed at nineteen? Maybe I am cursed, in which case I am thankful I've made it this long.


she said...

no, no, no. quite the contrary!
-it is a beautiful, meaningful, honor and tribute

a wonderful legacy of love and remembrence -and what a handsome human being!

medusa said...

isn't it traditional for jewish children to be named not directly for someone, but with their initial? my understanding is that it's to keep from tempting/confusing the angel of death into taking the wrong person, but also to find a way to honor them despite that.

(i suppose hugo/hugh are different enough, plus he wasn't alive when you were born)

madabandon said...

Yes, you don't name the baby exactly after the person. First initial and similar-sounding name are customary.b