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Billiards at the Hotel Dobray

Dusan Sarotar

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In the northern Slovenian city of Murska Sobota stands the renowned Hotel Dobray, once the gathering place of townspeople of all nationalities and social strata who lived in this typical Pannonian panorama on the fringe of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Due to its historical and geographical particularities, the town had always been home to numerous ethnically and culturally mixed communities that gave it the charm and melos of Central-European identity. But now, in the thick of World War II, the town is occupied by the Hungarian army. Franz Schwartzs wife, Ellsie has for the past month been preparing their son Isaac, a gifted violinist, for his first solo concert, which is to take place at Hotel Dobray. Isaac is to perform on his bar mitzvah and his 13th birthday on April 26, 1944. When the German army marches into town and forces all Jews to display yellow stars on their clothes, Ellsie advises her husband that the family should flee the town and escape to Switzerland. Schwartz promises her he will obtain forged documents, but not before Isaac performs his concert at the hotel. A year later, in March 1945, Schwartz returns, on foot, from the concentration camp as one of the few survivors.

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Slovenia, Morska Sobota, literary Fiction, Second World War