[Seagulls calling] [Lapping waves] [Stella] Having weathered the storm we were home at last.
I stood once again on the shores of my childhood island.
I thanked God for the miracle, that my family and I were here, having survived the inferno of war.
A Swedish woman escapes the Second World War and writes a book about her experiences, causing a scandal in Sweden.
[Stella] Can you tell me, what would it take to prevent new wars?
How can stable and fair peace accords be accomplished in the world?
And she writes about the most taboo subject, sexual violence against women during the war, a subject that so far had been shrouded in silence.
She's met with a storm of outrage and disbelief.
[Stella] Should one cast a veil of silence over these events?
Millions of people have fled for their lives.
Women have been subjected to horrific abuse.
My experiences inspired me to write this book, in the hope that the world will help those in despair, before it's too late.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Clatter of hooves] [Streetcar bell ringing] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] My father thought that I was far too young to socialize with foreign diplomats.
He felt that my school peers would be more suitable... ...cadets maybe.
I loved my father dearly, but I couldn't resist seeing my Hungarian.
He used to stand outside on the street and wait for me while I did my homework.
16-year-old Stella Kuylenstierna lived her life like most upper-class teenage girls in Stockholm.
Her days were filled with piano lessons, homework, friends, and potential suitors.
And, she was a member of a large, close family.
In this case, the wealthy Kuylenstierna family.
♪♪♪ Stockholm 1918.
Sweden was a neutral country and avoided World War I, which was now coming to an end in Europe.
But everyone followed the progress of the war... ...the Swedish nobility included.
What totally changed Stella's life, and the lives of her family, was a meeting in Ostermalm on a sunny day in spring.
♪♪♪ [Stella] I remember the moment when I first met my intended.
I was 16 years old, on my way home from school with my friend, Elsa, when we met a handsome, blond boy.
Imre Andrássy was Hungarian and served in the legation in Stockholm.
There was no greater story in the whole world than meeting Imre.
Being swept off her feet.
The feeling of, "I met him.
It was glorious!"
She told that story many times.
The gossip in Stockholm knew no bounds.
She was but a child.
He, a divorced war hero.
Due to a war injury he was given a diplomatic post in Stockholm.
Moreover, although he came from a powerful, noble family, he was at the time penniless due to the political situation at home.
[Stella] Finally, I managed to convince my parents.
Our engagement was announced.
My extended family reacted with horror.
"16-year-old girl engaged to penniless Balkan count."
♪♪♪ [Stella] The marriage took place in the Catholic church, followed by dinner at my parents' house.
Father gave one of his heartfelt speeches in which he pointed out, "Distance does not exist for those who love.
To love is to be close."
♪♪♪ [Stella] As I stood at the compartment window and the train pulled out from the central station, I began to lose heart.
I didn't want go away with a stranger to a foreign country.
I wanted to get off in Sodertalje, and be with my parents.
Poor Imre pointed out that it would look very strange if the bride regretted her decision the same night.
Wasn't there enough gossip already?
I could at least see some of the continent first.
I dried my tears.
Imre opened a bottle of champagne, and before the train arrived in Sodertalje I had calmed down.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ The honeymoon was longer than they had planned.
The country that Stella and Imre were on their way to was in chaos.
Hungary lost a lot of territory and several regimes fought for power.
[Engine huffing] [Stella] The honeymoon took us to Berlin, Munich and from there to Vienna, where we stayed until things settled down in Hungary.
[Engine huffing] [Joy] After World War I there was a communist government which took everything away.
There was no money, whatsoever.
They weren't going to have anymore lands or property.
[Stella] Fate would intervene.
The Andrássy family regained a major part of their estates.
Imre was once again one of the wealthiest young men in Europe.
And then it came back, which was a surprise.
So it was, easy come easy go.
[Stella] I remember when I came to Budapest.
I was 17.
We came by boat from Vienna.
On a May evening - a full moon.
The city glistened in a welcoming light.
♪♪♪ [Andréa] The Andrássy family is one of the most import aristocratic families in the history of Hungary.
They owned huge estates and played an important role in the political life of Hungary.
Prime ministers and other ministers came from this family.
♪♪♪ [Andréa] After World War I the role and influence of aristocratic families remained mostly symbolic, cultural.
They played a kind of celebrity role in the sense that the important journals, the Vogues and Elles of that time, were actually discussing their part-time activities... ...holiday activities, dresses they were wearing.
So in a sense, they were embedded in the aristocratic families of Europe.
♪♪♪ Stella is now a member of one of Europe's most powerful families.
The Andrássys had castles and estates all over the country where they lived in luxury.
The contrast between them and ordinary people was enormous.
♪♪♪ [Andréa] Aristocratic families considered themselves the fathers of the nation.
There was a kind of paternalistic, hierarchical, feudal relationship.
If you look at the relationship between the aristocrats and ordinary people, you see that they treated them like children.
Infantilizing them and being nice to them, but not really interested in what their citizens were actually thinking.
♪♪♪ [Stella] After the crops were harvested a harvest feast was held.
It lasted for four days.
Everyone wore their traditional folk costumes.
The gypsies played for all they were worth.
Couple after couple danced a vigorous csárdás.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] We lived at Humenné Castle for many years.
The castle furnishings were magnificent.
The family had for hundreds of years collected and bought whatever they desired in France and Italy.
[Joy] She had a very good life and there was no want, clearly.
She got custom-made shoes.
She had nice dresses.
She played the piano very well which pleased her mother-in-law to no end.
Her mother-in-law came from a musical family.
She was clearly embraced by them, and accepted.
[Stella] The two-story library held over 50,000 books.
On dark winter evenings in the Carpathians, I read Shakespeare, Byron and Shelley...by the meter!
The library had books of importance only.
♪♪♪ The territorial losses that Hungary suffered after World War I had slowly faded from the collective memory.
People discussed head of state, Miklós Horthy's, tyrannical rule.
Life for Stella and Imre had its ups and downs while their family expanded.
Her favorite stories were the ones when she would go out dancing with my grandfather.
They would go out to a big ball.
She would come back in the mornings.
Tatja would be there with the children as they were going out for their morning walk.
She would kiss her children and then go up to bed.
[Stella] We spoke Swedish in our home from the very beginning since I had my Swedish nanny, Ester.
She was from Smaland.
She "ruled the roost".
She was in charge of the larder keys and made sure we all lived in fear of the Lord... ...myself included.
♪♪♪ The 1930s, not far from Hungary.
In Germany Adolf Hitler is appointed chancellor and leader of the national socialist party.
Tensions escalated in Europe.
Hungary, with its large Jewish population, was in a precarious situation.
[Andréa] The aristocratic families, with very few exceptions, actually considered themselves patriots in the sense that any kind of German influence was unacceptable to them.
Anti-Nazi attitudes were there, but they had a limited relationship with other political forces who were anti-Nazi or anti-German.
♪♪♪ [Stella] This was my happy world.
But I suspected that change was coming.
As Hungary's greatest poet, Sándor Petofi, wrote 100 years ago, "Earth, why so thirsty?
Haven't you had enough blood?"
♪♪♪ [Speaking German] A new World War had broken out in Europe.
Hungary strengthened ties with Germany and Italy.
The conservative head of state, Miklós Horthy, is not in support of Hitler's dream of a Third Reich.
However, in November 1940 Hungary aligned with Germany.
Meanwhile, Stella started a magazine for Hungarian women.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] I started the magazine for the poorest mothers.
For those who carried the heaviest burden.
What do the women get?
Sleepless nights, worry, labor and toil.
I wanted to help the women.
There was so much to write about.
♪♪♪ [Stella] Time passed.
The war escalated.
Every day more lives were lost.
We had no choice, but to hold out.
We must all find something to do so as not to despair.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Fruzsina] Conditions were awful.
There was no food, no bandages, no medicine.
They sometimes had to take bandages from dead bodies and reuse them without sterilizing them.
This describes the awful conditions.
There were a lot of noble family members working in this hospital, who tried to do their best to save people's lives.
♪♪♪ Germany had suffered major losses.
The Hungarian head of state, Miklós Horthy, tried to abandon collaborations with Germany and back out of the war.
Therefore, in early 1944, Hitler decided to occupy Hungary.
This saw the start of a barbaric period in history.
More than half a million Hungarians were murdered of which the vast majority were Jewish.
In time, Horthy's government would be replaced by a German-friendly government made up of members of the Hungarian fascist party - The Arrow Cross Party.
Their leader, Ferenc Szálasi, was appointed head of state.
♪♪♪ [Stella] The city's young women were evacuated by force.
They stood there, like animals to the slaughter, lined up in rows of four wide.
They were young, slim girls.
Well dressed and well brought up.
But they were Jewish, and that was why they were driven out.
Where to, nobody knew.
[Stella] Our only hope was the USA and England.
One hoped that the English-American army would advance through the Balkan and save Eastern Europe.
The elegant ladies of Budapest were wearing red lipstick again.
If they were going to die they may as well die in style.
♪♪♪ The Siege of Budapest, with the Nazis and fascists on one side, the Red Army on the other, was one of the war's bloodiest battles.
♪♪♪ Budapest was a city in ruins.
In February 1945, the Red Army declared victory and freed the country from the Nazi occupation and the fascists.
♪♪♪ But, with the Soviet entry came a new wave of terror.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Andréa] With the Soviet occupation there is one important fact that we need to consider.
That is the massive rapes that were committed by Red Army soldiers.
Soldiers rape and armies possibly get out of control, but this was massive rape in the Hungarian case.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] The company commander was a methodical man.
He compiled a schedule for all the women in the village.
They were ordered, on certain days at a certain time, to be available for "potato peeling".
That meant obligatory rape.
The rapes were carried out in the schoolhouse.
The women were forced to undress and lie naked in a row on the floor, while the soldiers queued up in front of them.
♪♪♪ [Joy] Margit was being raped and she had two other daughters.
The Russians started to rape the other daughters.
Margit said, "Don't rape my daughters.
Rape me again instead."
♪♪♪ She was very brave... ...she was very brave to try and shelter her child as much as possible from all this.
[Andréa] The reason why these rapes are happening is this is a kind of intention of the army to control and govern the population, and basically impose its superiority on the population.
There's a structuralist interpretation which is saying that this is a power issue, because the military is based on a certain form of masculinity therefore it's necessarily a structural element of every warfare.
♪♪♪ [Stella] The human being is resilient.
A woman can suffer a lot before she'll give up and die.
Is it right to cast a veil of silence over what happened in Hungary?
[Andréa] The Red Army really won World War II in the sense that they liberated Europe from the Nazi occupation.
On the other hand they lost the post-war propaganda in the beds of those women whom they raped.
♪♪♪ Millions of people in Europe sought a place of refuge for themselves and their families.
The people of Hungary continued to flee from terror and destruction.
♪♪♪ [Joy] It isn't just one thing that makes you want to leave your country.
It's a succession of events.
Finally, there's one which makes you realize that there's no going back... ...that the situation is not going to get reconciled and that the danger of remaining far exceeds the dangers of what would lie ahead of you.
It's not a decision made lightly.
♪♪♪ [Stella] By 4 a.m.
I'd had enough of the siege.
I was not going to be captured alive by the Russians.
"I want to leave", I said.
"We'll go then", said Imre.
♪♪♪ [Bombs exploding] ♪♪♪ [Stella] When we realized that it was pointless trying to get out by train we continued the journey by horse and carriage.
[Joy] They left with horse carriages because they knew you could eat a horse, but you can't eat a car.
Gasoline was rationed, so it was better to use animals.
♪♪♪ [Stella] We went ahead with the easiest horses to look for places to stay.
♪♪♪ By dusk each evening we sought out places to sleep... ...asked if we could sleep in a barn for the worst hours of the night.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] "Westwards" was the slogan.
Every morning when the convoy was ready to move on the order was given, "Direction: Westwards."
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ We were starving and we all had dysentery.
♪♪♪ We searched for anything that was edible.
Last year's berries, wild mushrooms, blades of grass.
We put anything that was green into our mouths.
Winter heads towards spring and the worst war in history is coming to an end.
The Red Army launched its final offensive in Berlin.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ The Andrássy family's dreadful plight was eased when they got help on their journey.
♪♪♪ In early May the family found refuge in an Austrian castle, where they find out that Germany has surrendered.
World War II was over.
But millions of people were in displaced persons' camps.
Klagenfurt in Austria, bordering the Iron Curtain, was overflowing with refugees from the East.
Stella Andrássy and her family ended up here too.
[Joy] She was very concerned about refugees, and how difficult the life of a refugee was.
If there was a way to alleviate suffering she wanted to.
She also had a big heart.
♪♪♪ [Stella] I must try to help those unhappy children and all of the impoverished people in the camp.
But who would I turn to?
Suddenly, I had an insight.
I'm going on a pilgrimage to Rome.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] "Give them a passport, Holy Father.
Give them hope", I beseeched.
He knew about the hardship and suffering in the world.
He made the sign of the cross over me and said, "I bless you my daughter, and those whom you work for."
♪♪♪ [Stella] The time of miracles is not yet over.
I saw Christ walking on water.
He appeared in the form of medicine, healthcare supplies, clothes and food.
♪♪♪ Having weathered the storm we were home at last.
I thanked God for the miracle, that my family and I were here, having survived the inferno of a war.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] In writing this book I want to tell the world about an era long lost... ...my experiences during the war and after the collapse.
But it's just a fragment.
Millions of people in Europe have had similar and much more bitter experiences.
When Stella Kuylenstierna-Andrássy decides to write the book about her experiences she doesn't avoid what is most difficult... ...what has up to now been met with silence: Describing the sexual violence against women during World War II.
♪♪♪ Her book, "The Puszta is Burning" was published in 1948.
It became a bestseller, but a scandal too, because Stella is one of the first women ever to describe the most shameful of deeds.
It wasn't just a scandal among socialites in Stockholm.
The newspaper, Expressen, "found lies in the book".
LIES IN "THE PUSZTA IS BURNING" The communist Workers' Newspaper mocked the book calling it, "Fairy tales of a countess", "Nazi lies" and "hate and hysteria".
The Swedish Women's Leftist Association distanced itself from the description of the Red Army's sexual violence.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Stella] Is it right to cast a veil of silence over what happened in Hungary?
Over what happened to my sister-in-law and her daughters.
Her daughter Kaja's fate differs not from a million other Hungarian women, but I knew her well, and we were very close.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Stella's story is a kind of atypical story.
She witnessed this story.
She's a woman married to a Hungarian aristocrat.
She wrote it in Swedish.
Obviously, she faced aggression and doubts from her readers.
On the other hand, this is an important source for a very specific women's perspective on World War II.
♪♪♪ The years pass.
Stella and Imre try to find a place of refuge, but they find it hard to get residency in the same country.
Both end up in the USA eventually.
They've lost everything they had in Hungary.
They live on very little, but they're in a safe place where they create an unassuming existence.
♪♪♪ They'd had all of these wonderful things previously.
Automobiles, fancy dresses, houses.
They travelled, ate wonderful meals.
There was silver and servants, and now it's gone so...
They didn't pine for it because it wasn't coming back.
So you might as well have a nice little cocktail of jug wine in your garden, and enjoy the fact that the birds are singing and things like that.
They did things that made them happy.
They had a good life, but they were very poor.
♪♪♪ The USA is at war on the other side of the globe.
Stella and Imre's quiet lifestyle is under threat.
♪♪♪ Stella's daughter Elizabeth lives alone with her two children since her husband died.
The children, Joy and Roy, spend a lot of time with their grandparents, Stella and Imre.
♪♪♪ 17-year-old Roy dreams of joining the army.
♪♪♪ [The Star-Spangled Banner] [The Star-Spangled Banner] For more than a decade of combat over air, land and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest tradition of the armed forces.
As a grateful nation we honor more than 58,000 patriots.
Their names are etched in black granite.
They sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know.
♪♪♪ [Stella] Can you tell me, what would it take to prevent new wars?
♪♪♪ How can a stable and fair peace accords be accomplished in the world?
Stella had lived through three big wars when she died peacefully in 1998 at the age of 96.
♪♪♪ Her husband, Imre, passed away 13 years earlier, at the age of 93.
♪♪♪ Imre and Stella's youngest daughter, Elizabeth, passed away in 2017.
In a village near Krasnahorka, in what is now Slovakia, the people still have strong links with the Andrássy family.
Elizabeth's only living child, Joy, brings back her mother's ashes to the family grave in Krasnahorka.
In a fine funeral, aired on Slovakian television, the whole community gathered to honor Joy's mother, Elizabeth Andrássy-Olgyay.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Stella and Imre's oldest daughter, Maria, lives alone in the small town of Bobcaygeon in Canada.
♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [Birds chirping] Stella and Imre are both buried here in a small cemetery not far from Maria's home.
[Joy] My grandmother was very adaptable, and I think that is one reason she was a happy person.
Because she realized that the world had changed.
She had a very big heart and she felt the suffering of the world greatly.
She wanted there to be no more war.
♪♪♪ [Stella] I've tried to give an accurate account of what I've seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.
I've tried to give an objective account of what I've experienced, and I realize that it's but a faint echo of what has happened, and is still happening.