As a law student in lvov, Poland, in 1928, Zofia Neuhoff met Maksymilian Hoffman, a charming lawyer whom she liked “above all for his… enthusiastic approval of her career plans.” After a few months, he proposed, but she declined to answer, and they lost touch, to her regret. Two years later, as she rushed out of a streetcar, she bumped into him and said yes.
But in later years, fate was less kind to the couple, parents of author Eva Cristina Hoffman Jedruch. In her new book, Crossing the Bridges: From Lvov Across the Steppes of Asia to London’s Doodlebugs: One Woman’s Wartime Odyssey (Austin Macauley), Jedruch recounts how invading Soviets sent Maks to his death at a prisoner of war camp, then describes the violent banging on her door by Soviet security-service officers, wanting to whisk her, her mother and her grandmother away. Eva, who was not yet two, had a cold and was allowed to stay home with relatives. It likely saved her life.
The book traces Zofia’s time in a Gulag, working in a quarry, and her arduous journey from “Kazakhstan, on the border with China, through Persia, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, across North Africa, back to Europe, to London into the hell of V-2 rockets.”
Jedruch, 82, who lives in Summit, wrote the book as a tribute to her mother. “Her story was not really that unusual,” says Jedruch. Thousands were separated from their families and deported or killed when Poland was caught between Nazi and Soviet invasions.
The book ends shortly after mother and child were reunited in 1946, following a suspenseful attempt to smuggle Eva across the border into Czechoslovakia.
Jedruch, who earned her doctor of letters from Drew University after turning 70, plans a sequel, telling her own life story.