Robert Wolf is a sought-after speaker and author and is featured in media and TV including NBC TV, FOX TV, CBS TV, and ABC TV and many more. We caught up with Robert Wolf to discuss his inspirational family, his book “Not a Real Enemy: The True Story of a Hungarian Jewish Man’s Fight for Freedom” and more.
What is the significance of the title?
“Not a Real Enemy” is actually the title of one of the chapters within the book as well. While contemplating my dad Ervin Wolf’s final escape from Hungary soon after the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, he snuck into the main medical staff office inside of his Budapest hospital the night before he and my mom Judit planned on an attempt to leave their country. He had to quietly weave into the correct office between security guards on duty in order to review his dossier. He merely wanted to know whether he had a clean record, how closely he had been watched, if there was a bounty on his head, and the like, just in case they were caught and possibly arrested while on the run. By this point in his life, Ervin’s risk appetite was uncanny.
Ervin was relatively pleased to see that the Soviets described him as “Not a Real Enemy,” because he remained politically neutral, mostly on his own work as an OB/GYN, but not a communist sympathizer or recruiter. That theme carries over to the entire biography.
What scene would you point out as the pivotal moment in the narrative? How did it make you feel?
My dad’s first escape attempt from the miserable Forced Labor Camp was fraught with danger and excitement, etched in the back of my memory for many years and it still comes to my mind’s eye almost daily. One of many harrowing stories, his vivid recollection of the details in this chapter was one of the most compelling and intriguing throughout his journey. This was, in fact, the first of a long list of true fights for his freedom. This riveting adventure is so descriptive that it feels as though he discussed events that occurred the previous day rather than 30 years prior to his initial recounting (nearly 80 years ago now). One can picture the scenery, emphasize with the situation, feel the cold, and acknowledge the terror of the moment. One can smell and feel the background, the vastness of the mountains and hills. You can hear the footsteps of the men scurrying about, the heavy breathing following a prolonged run, and the harsh military dogs barking. The desperate need for survival is palpable.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned about your family’s story when writing your book?
I had no idea that my dad’s parents Joseph and Kamilla Wolf were somewhat affluent during brief periods of time, while struggling in the interim. Joseph, a dentist, treated many of the least fortunate kids from dad’s high school (called gymnasium in Hungary) to free dental care. Meanwhile, Kamilla donated tzedakah (charity in Hebrew), most notably as nice meals and quality listening time, to those who were not as well off within her hometown circle.
How did the book make you feel once it was completed? What emotions did it evoke?
I really felt a serious sense of accomplishment, and a disbelief that I did all that work along the way. “Not a Real Enemy” was a labor of love and evoked lots of mixed emotions, certainly happiness and sadness. Sometimes many tears shed. Mostly of good memories and losts of gratitude. Ervin was also an emotional and caring person, and this work helped me to realize how and why he became that way while missing his family for so many years. It is hard to describe these feelings to others, as it is so personal that I could hear my dad’s voice describing his life in perfect English but with a thick Hungarian accent.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book?
My website at robertjwolfmd.com and “Not a Real Enemy: The True Story of a Hungarian Jewish Man’s Fight for Freedom” is available at Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.
About “Not a Real Enemy: The True Story of a Hungarian Jewish Man’s Fight for Freedom”
In 1944, almost half a million Jewish Hungarians are deported to Auschwitz. Among the few surviving Hungarian Jews from this era were young men who, like Ervin Wolf, were conscripted into the brutal Forced Labor Service where they were cut off from the outside world and ordered to endure inhumane brutalities and servitude. Once freed, a new oppression took hold as communist rule under Stalin turned friends to foes, enveloped the nation in fear and suspicion, and tested everyone’s character and strength.
This is the true story of Ervin Wolf and his family as the fascist tide of Eastern Europe takes hold of Hungary. From the Wolfs’ comfortable upper-class life to imprisonment, daring escapes, tragic deaths, cloak-and-dagger adventures, and Ervin’s final escape to freedom in the dead of night, “Not a Real Enemy” is a page-turning tale of suspense, tragedy, comedy, and ultimately, triumph.
“Not a Real Enemy: The True Story of a Hungarian Jewish Man’s Fight for Freedom” by author Robert Wolf is available at retailers and online including at Barnes & Noble and at Amazon:
About Robert Wolf
Robert Wolf, M.D., grew up as the only child of Ervin and Judit Wolf. Their stories of their escape from communist Hungary, and his father’s tragic history of escaping the Nazis twice but having his own parents taken to Auschwitz, inspired Robert to document his parents’ tales and share those stories with Jewish groups and others throughout the United States. In “Not a Real Enemy” Robert shares his family saga-and the forgotten history of the nearly half million Hungarian Jews who were deported and killed during the Holocaust-through an epic and inspiring tale of daring escapes, terrifying oppression, tragedy, and triumph.
For more information on “Not a Real Enemy: The True Story of a Hungarian Jewish Man’s Fight for Freedom,” visit: robertjwolfmd.com