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Crossing the Bridges-bookcover

By: Eva Cristina Hoffman Jedruch

Crossing the Bridges

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Central and Eastern Europe was a configuration of nations dominated by three empires: Austrian, German and Russian, whose borders promised to be set in concrete. The Austrian Empire was a multi-ethnic entity of countries that had been absorbed over time. Among these were Polish lands annexed by Austria in the eighteenth century, which became the Austrian province of Galicia, where Zofia Neuhoff was born in 1905 into an upper-middle-class family. Victorian manners reigned supreme, young ladies were coached to gracefully alight from the carriage and ‘culture’ was a magic word, socially distinguishing people who possessed it from those who did not. That haute bourgeoisie morphed into the central-European intelligentsia.

Zofia’s childhood was upended by five years of WWI which she spent in the picturesque environs of Innsbruck. By 1918, the three imperishable empires disintegrated and several sovereign states emerged from the ruins. After the Neuhoffs returned to independent Poland, Zofia’s life continued on an even keel with a happy marriage and a law degree unusual for a woman in the 1930s. In September 1939, Poland was invaded by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Overnight, Zofia’s existence was shattered. Alone, with an 18-month-old toddler, in the midst of mass arrests and deportations of civilian population, how could she cope with this new harsh reality for which her sheltered life had not prepared her?

Eva Cristina Hoffman Jedruch was born in the city of Lwów, Poland, months before the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war she lived in England, Argentina, and since 1969 in the USA. She is a chemical engineer by profession, graduate of the state university of Buenos Aires. She married Dr Jacek Jedruch, nuclear physicist and a Renaissance man, a parliamentary historian. Since 1986, Eva has lived close to New York and worked for the German chemical company, BASF, as an international marketing manager. Widowed, after retirement she enrolled at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, in the Arts & Letters program, earning a D.Litt. (Doctor of Letters) degree in medieval studies. Eva speaks five languages. She is a board member of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions (ICHRPI). Her two cats, Fritz and Janey, make wonderful companions.

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