András Koerner was born in Budapest, Hungary, where he completed a degree in architecture and worked as an architect. In 1968, he moved to the United States, where he continued to pursue his profession. Since his retirement in 2000, he has written several books and acted as a curator to several exhibitions. His books include A Taste of the Past, The Daily Life and Cooking of a 19 th-Century Hungarian Jewish Homemaker (University Press of New England, 2004), The Stages of Andor Weinginer from the Bauhaus to New York (Alma on Dobbin, 2008), Egy vonakodó zsidó. Esszék és történetek (A Reluctant Jew. Essays and Stories. 2B Alapítvány, 2013) and the Hungarian version of the present volume: Hogyan éltek? A magyar zsidók hétköznapi élete. 1867‒1940 (How They Lived. The Everyday Lives of Hungarian Jews. 1867‒1940. Corvina Kiadó, 2013).
“András Koerner's book gives an overall picture of various layers of Hungarian Jewish existence with a large number of photographs accompanied by seminal historical analyses about their meaning and relevance. This is an ingenious introduction into a problem area rarely explored in scholarly literature. It can serve future research as well as offer an original approach to the often ambiguous situation of Jews in a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional nation state, where they constituted the most dynamic force of modernization, cultural, and economic progress. This book is the fruit of a highly ambitious and indeed unique enterprise, without any real precedents.” —Victor Karady
This book documents the physical aspects of the lives of Hungarian Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the way they looked, the kind of neighborhoods and apartments they lived in, and the places where they worked.
The many historical photographs—there is at least one picture per page—and related text offers a virtual cross section of Hungarian society, a diverse group of the poor, the middle-class, and the wealthy. Regardless of whether they lived integrated within the majority society or in separate communities, whether they were assimilated Jews or Hasidim, they were an important and integral part of the nation. We have surprisingly few detailed accounts of their lifestyles—the world knows more about the circumstances of their deaths than about the way they lived. Much like piecing together an ancient sculpture from tiny shards found in an excavation, Koerner tries to reconstruct the many diverse lifestyles using fragmentary information and surviving photos.
250 pages, with numerous photos, 2015
978-963-386-002-1 cloth $85.00 / €64.00 / £54.00
978-963-386-008-3 paperback $45.00 / €34.00 / £29.00
Volume 2 was released in 2016.
Information on the two volumes is available here.
"In How They Lived, Koerner shows the realities behind the nostalgia; a diverse
world composed of individuals, not stereotypes. The book that began on
a mournful note on the deaths of Hungarian Jews ends up as a rich and colorful
exploration of their lives. It is refreshing to see the faces and to discover the
connections between them. Koerner has revived the world of Hungarian Jewry
in our historical imagination, and his book is a reminder that, ultimately, their
lives outshine their deaths." - East Central Europe