Béla Zombory-Moldován (1885–1967) was born in Munkács (now Mukachevo), in what was then the Kingdom of Hungary, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, he established himself as a painter, illustrator, and graphic artist. Wounded in action in 1914 as a junior officer on the eastern front, he served the rest of the First World War in non-combatant duties. He was a successful painter, especially of portraits, during the interwar years, and was the principal of the Budapest School of Applied Arts from 1935 until his dismissal by the Communist regime in 1946. Out of official favor and artistic fashion in the postwar years, he devoted himself to the quiet landscapes in oils and watercolor that are his finest work. The writing of his recently discovered memoirs probably also dates from those years of seclusion.

1914: Into the Fire

German infantry in the Forest of Argonne during World War I
The barrage rolls forward. Ten minutes. Then they start again from the rear. The continuous deafening explosions, the howling of the flying shell fragments have practically stupefied me. Beside me, between salvos, Miklósik frantically digs himself deeper into his hole. Then a blast quite close to me. Utterly helpless, I give myself up to my fate and, with no emotion, wait for the end to come.