“I picked up The Hitler Kiss only a few hours after I had returned from a research trip
in Europe. As I was very tired after a long flight, I expected to be able only to glance at a
few pages. I found myself reading and reading more, for hours, until the pages virtually fell
from my fingers. . .I did not stop until I had read every word. At the end. . .I was so moved
that I had tears in my eyes. . . Objective and unemotional, serious but also witty. . . .It
will resonate with every reader.”
—Igor Lukes, author of Czechoslovakia Between Hitler and Stalin
THE HITLER KISS
A Memoir of the
by Radomir Luza
and Christina Vella
“This is a remarkable book ...a fabulous adventure story. The sense of timing in the writing is
exquisite...the reader’s blood pressure goes up just wondering what will happen... The writing style
is just marvelous...so com- pelling that it would make a good movie.”
—Karl Roider, Author of
Austria’s Eastern Question
Louisiana State University Press (2002)
Resistance movements were active in every country occupied by Hitler; yet, despite a plethora of
books on the Holocaust, little has been published in English describing this pervasive Resistance. How
did people join it, or how were they compelled by circumstances to join? How did unarmed and homeless
(that is, unregistered) individuals survive in hiding, communicate with each other, and organize projects
against the Germans in a city such as Brno, where a gallows was set up in a schoolyard for the execution
of anyone who failed to report unregistered persons?
During the occupation of Czechoslovakia, every citizen faced the danger of committing one of more than
a hundred capital offenses—listening to foreign broadcasts, procuring any kind of food beyond one’s
meager rations, providing any assistance whatever to a resister—crimes that resulted in the execution
of one’s entire family. How, then, did Resistance persist throughout the entire war, despite the Germans’
unflagging attempts to eradicate it?
Luza was the teenage son of a Czechoslovak army general who went into hiding in 1941. Young Radomir was
imprisoned by the Germans and then released in the expectation that he would lead them to the elder Luza.
Instead, Radomir Luza escaped his pursuers and joined his father underground. He remained a hunted man until
the end of the war, moving from shelter to shelter, staying in people’s attics, under their houses, hiding
outdoors in bushes, and living in zemljankas, holes dug underground by escaped Russian war prisoners. At
one point, his group was infiltrated by a Nazi spy, a Czech assigned to capture Luza. While Radomir tried
to protect his father, he organized a guerilla force of 800 men and led a brigade of Russian ex-prisoners
in guerilla attacks against the occupiers.
Luza’s memoir is not only a study of the Resistance, the Communist
coup, and his eventual escape to the West; it is also a personal memoir
of his relationship with his father, a prominent public figure. Athletic,
self-educated, and tough, Vojtech Luza disparaged the abilities of his
intellectual, sensitive son, whom he nevertheless deeply loved. On his
side, young Radomir worshiped his stern father from afar, following
his career in the newsreels, along with everyone else. Not until they
shared rodent-infested barns did Radomir gain insight into his father’s
human faults and qualities. The Hitler Kiss is at all times a
description of personalities as well as a movement. Luza describes in
sometimes hilarious detail his relationship with his Russian comrades,
his conflicts with his fellow resisters in the closed society of the
underground, the women to whom he owed his life, and his friendships
with such characters as The Hermit, Mrs. Little Spruce, The Proletarian,
The Gypsy, and others whose code names hid secret identities and secret
compassion. The Hitler Kiss is not a memoir of atrocity, but
of tenderness, optimism, humor, and survival.
Praise for The Hitler Kiss:
“World War and family drama play out . . . in clear,
“The compelling narrative is based on 108 hours of tape recordings, given
structure and compelling force by the formidable skills of historian Vella,
an adjunct professor of history at Tulane . . . She gives us a picture
of the resistance in Czechoslovakia that is both personally moving. .
. and cinematic in scope and detail.”
Larson, Book Editor, The Times-Picayune
"A moving look at a nation and its people. . . .A stunning memoir”
“Truly extraordinary. . . .Personal accounts about the Second World War
must be more than tens of thousands . . .but this book is a rare achievement.
. . for this, much of the credit is surely due to Christina Vella.”
Lukacs, author of Five Days in London
“Poignant, eloquent, and harrowing. . . . The pen portraits are vivid,
the moral judgements acute. And the writing is nothing less than superb,
indeed, brilliant, thanks to the rich collaboration with Christina Vella.
...I was very moved.”
N. Powell, author of Troubled Memory
"A work of art that coherently ties together countless beautifully narrated
scenes of a most dramatic segment of Central European history."
"A wonderfully written, riveting account of life under the Nazi occupation
and the internal workings of the Czech resistance movement…a fascinating,
important contribution…readable and accessible to non-academics. Vella
has done a wonderful job.
Farrow, Russian History
A professor emeritus of history at Tulane University and professor of history at Masaryk University in Brno, the late
RADOMIR LUZA was the author of seven scholarly books and numerous articles. Until his death in 2009, he lived near Philadelphia.
CHRISTINA VELLA holds a Ph.D in history. She is the author, most recently, of
George Washington Carver: A Life (LSU Press, 2015). She writes, lectures, and
teaches in New Orleans.
Dr. Vella's works are distributed locally by Octavia Books
513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Autographs and personal dedications are available on request.