Alexander and Elizabeth de Halmy, final in an extended line of Austro-Hungarian barons and baronesses, escaped the Nazi Holocaust and communism to seek out peace by Misplaced Lagoon.
There’s a giant bench-box within the hallway close to the entrance door of a condominium in Vancouver’s West Finish, excellent for storing sneakers.
You then do a double take. An inscription says the field was inbuilt 1699 — for Hungarian the Aristocracy, it seems.
“It’s a sword field, for storing swords,” mentioned Martin Cichocki as he guided a customer via the Haro Avenue condominium that’s chock-a-block stuffed with artwork that when belonged to Jewish-Hungarian aristocracy.
The treasures are going to be shipped again to Hungary and Austria to seek out loving houses, however how they wound up within the West Finish is a microcosm of late-Nineteenth and early Twentieth-century European historical past.
The de Halmys had castles in Budapest and close by Vecsés, the place the household’s searching property was, when the Second World Warfare broke out and Hungary sided with the Nazis.
“Many of the household was despatched off to Auschwitz and the totally different camps,” Cichocki mentioned. “Alex was about 20. He and his mom had been hiding within the ghetto, and with the assistance of Swedish diplomats they may go away the nation with some type of pretend move to get them to London.”
Actually, Alex had already boarded a prepare destined for a dying camp when he was rescued.
Contained in the Haro Avenue condominium all types of crystal, porcelain and silverware lay scattered on tables and stands that relaxation on the thick shag carpet.
“That is the way it has regarded all these years they lived right here,” mentioned Sjaan Lugtenburg, a neighbour of the de Halmys. Lugtenburg and her husband have lived within the 22-storey Huntington constructing because it was inbuilt 1976, two years earlier than the de Halmys left Montreal for Vancouver.
“They preferred previous stuff,” Lugtenburg understated.
That previous stuff trickled into Vancouver. Many of the household artwork had been misplaced, however mates and kinfolk had managed to cover a few of it within the Budapest ghetto and, through the years, it made it piece by piece to the West Finish.
Photographs of Alex’s glamorous mother and father seem like black-and-white stills from Lodge Europa. Among the many work adorning the partitions are portraits of Alex from golden-curled toddler to critical younger man, in addition to portraits of his mother and father via the years, together with Lily as flapper.
An enormous cabinet inbuilt 1777, of wooden so stable it could possibly be used as lintels immediately, lay in rigorously taken-apart items for cargo, subsequent to silver trays the Cichockis loved breakfast on earlier that day.
“Why not?” mentioned Cichocki, now a doctor in Vienna. “Breakfast on silver, only for enjoyable.”
Cichocki introduced his spouse and three daughters on a “transferring trip” to start sorting stuff out earlier than his father and mom — Bernd and Ilse — arrive from Austria in late September for six weeks of packing and delivery.
It was a literal treasure hunt as he wandered via the flat with a visitor, each of them delighting in each discover.
In Alex’s research, vintage maps of the landmark locations in his life cling on the wall above his desk — Austro-Hungary, England, the St. Lawrence Valley, and a map virtually 400 years previous of North America’s East Coast from Greenland to Mexico (the West Coast is rather less detailed, wanting like a three-year-old with a pencil drew it.)
And he might see Misplaced Lagoon.
The tranquil Stanley Park pond is in stark distinction to one of many work on the wall in the lounge, by Elizabeth’s grandfather, that depicts a double-masted crusing ship being tossed round in a windstorm far out at sea, the boat angled precariously on the crest of a wave, white water roiling.
The turbulence, Alex as soon as instructed Cichocki’s father Bernd, was a metaphor for a way he, Elizabeth and the artwork wound up within the West Finish, surviving the conflict of empires, world struggle, the Holocaust, and Stalin.
“My dad instructed me that was how Alex described his life — stormy,” Cichocki mentioned. “Right here was the peaceable place the place he ended up after all of the struggles of fleeing from the struggle, being thrown out as a noble household, hiding.
“In the long run, many issues reached Misplaced Lagoon.”