Truth is often much better than fiction. Some of you may have read ‘The English Patient’, or seen the film; I must confess I found both slightly boring, but some of the true stories behind the novel are much more entertaining.
The â€˜English patientâ€™, I hate to say, wasnâ€™t a romantic horribly-wounded-but-terribly-handsome hero figure â€“ he was actually described as â€˜very uglyâ€™ with â€˜nervous ticsâ€™, a â€˜fat and pendulousâ€™ nose, walking with â€˜drooping shouldersâ€™ and â€˜shabbily dressedâ€™. Besides, he wasnâ€™t even English (KV 2/1463).
LÃ¡szlÃ³ von AlmÃ¡sy was a Hungarian pilot and desert explorer. He spent the 1930s driving around and flying over the Libyan Desert (that part of the Sahara that stretches between Egypt, Sudan and Libya), looking for the mythical lost oasis of Zerzura and drawing maps. Recruited by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence, at the beginning of the Second World War, AlmÃ¡sy was involved in one of the most interesting failures of German espionage in Egypt, which largely contributed to â€˜breaking up the Egyptian 5th Columnâ€™: Operation SALAM, followed by Operation KONDOR (KV 2/1468).
In May 1942, AlmÃ¡sy took the head of an expedition to drive two German agents, Johannes Eppler and Heinrich Sandstede, known as MAX and MORITZ, across the desert from the Libyan oasis of Gialo to the Egyptian town of Asyut. Continue reading »