Alexander and Elizabeth de Halmy, final in a protracted line of Austro-Hungarian barons and baronesses, escaped the Nazi Holocaust and communism to search out peace by Misplaced Lagoon.
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There’s a massive bench-box within the hallway close to the entrance door of a rental in Vancouver’s West Finish, excellent for storing footwear.
Then you definitely 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,” stated Martin Cichocki as he guided a customer via the Haro Avenue rental that’s chock-a-block filled with artwork that after belonged to Jewish-Hungarian aristocracy.
The treasures are going to be shipped again to Hungary and Austria to search out loving properties, 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 completely different camps,” Cichocki stated. “Alex was about 20. He and his mom had been hiding within the ghetto, and with the assistance of Swedish diplomats they might go away the nation with some form of faux go 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 rental 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,” stated 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“They appreciated outdated stuff,” Lugtenburg understated.
That outdated stuff trickled into Vancouver. Many of the household artwork had been misplaced, however associates and family 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.
Pictures of Alex’s glamorous dad and mom 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 severe younger man, in addition to portraits of his dad and mom via the years, together with Lily as flapper.
An enormous cabinet inbuilt 1777, of wooden so strong it could possibly be used as lintels in the present day, lay in rigorously taken-apart items for cargo, subsequent to silver trays the Cichockis loved breakfast on earlier that day.
“Why not?” stated 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 transport.
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 dangle on the wall above his desk — Austro-Hungary, England, the St. Lawrence Valley, and a map nearly 400 years outdated 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 may 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 advised Cichocki’s father Bernd, was a metaphor for the 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 advised me that was how Alex described his life — stormy,” Cichocki stated. “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.”