She accepted the nomination in 1997, around the same time that Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs discovered that she had Jewish roots and that three of her grandparents died in concentration camps. Albright, who was raised Catholic and later converted to Episcopalianism, has always maintained that her family’s Jewish heritage was never revealed to her by her parents. She’s aware that some will never believe that she didn’t know, and 11
2 decades hence, she’s still making her case.
“They’re wrong, and I’m right,” she says of her doubters in an interview before this week’s release of her latest book, “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.” The book contains her largest accounting of relatives who died in the Holocaust: 25.
Albright, who will turn 75 in less than a month, converted the agents’ old quarters in her garage into a storage room after leaving office in 2001. Cobwebs spread from the corners, and floor-to-ceiling shelves sag beneath the weight of boxes with handwritten labels. “Sentimental,” one reads. Another says, “hoods from honorary degrees.” That one is stuffed.
Rummaging in the room not that long ago, Albright came upon a manila folder. Inside were 123 pages, neatly typed. The paper clip holding them together had rusted over, but the words on the pages survived, interrupted only by a few stray editing marks in pencil.
It dawned on her: This was the novel her father, who died in 1977, had once told her he was writing.
At the time, she hadn’t thought much of Josef Korbel’s comment. He was a historian, a man of checked and double-checked facts, not an inventor of imagined narratives. But there it was in her hands.
The unpublished work tells the story of a Czech diplomat returning to his country after years in London directing World War II-era radio broadcasts. (Hmm . . . sounds familiar. Albright’s father was — you guessed it — a Czech diplomat who worked in radio in London as part of the Czech government-in-exile during World War II.)
The fictional diplomat searches desperately for his family. He learns that his mother, his aunt and his uncle are no more, taken away by the Nazis. But he keeps looking. Finally he makes his way to his boyhood home. A man answers the door, and the diplomat once again seeks answers.
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