Heidi Trautmann

529 - Elsie Slonim – Lemons from Paradise – 70 adventurous years in Cyprus

Book – Books – Books on Cyprus


Or: The best protected woman in Cyprus


By Heidi Trautmann


A small red car stops at the restaurant HAMUR close to the Ledra Palace Crossing and Ahmet Cavusoglu, the owner, hurries out to open the car door for a lady stepping out of it carefully and he leads her towards me: Elsie Slonim 95 years of age. We sit down at a table in the shade of a big tree protected from the noise and heat.

I had missed the official book launch at the Goethe Institute in Nicosia on June 12 in cooperation with the Austrian Embassy and her editor and friend Jürgen Strasser, so I found out her address and asked her to meet me for a personal talk. It was a memorable morning to meet the woman who came to Cyprus in 1939 with her husband whom she had met on a steamer going to New York and whom she married a little while later in Chicago; he was the manager of a plantation in Cyprus and had decided that she was the right woman for him.

Elsie’s life starting from her birth in Chicago in 1917, her youth in Austria, being submitted to the aftermaths of WWI, and the horror of WWII, is an adventurous rainbow spanning from America, via Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean countries Israel and Cyprus. In her book “Lemons from Paradise” (the German version is “Rosen aus der Sperrzone – Verwurzelung verboten”) she recounts the story of her family as far back as her grandpartents who lived in Hungaria and later Rumania, she recounts the many stations of her own life as a young woman under the strict ruling of her father, the traditions of the early 20th century when a woman had to do what her father or husband told her.


Coming to Cyprus, still under British reign with the social rules of colonial British society, Elsie Slonim had to find her position in a strange country, fight her way out of personal isolation to find recognition in the cosmopolitan Limassol society; that was not easy and my heart went with her when I read her book.

Witness of the past in times when there was no fridge to have, no cars easily available, when she had to take a horse to visit her friends, witness of the birth of Israel, the many Jewish refugees that were sent from one coast to the next,  being a refugee with her family from Cyprus in WWII, actually being torn apart all the time. Finally she was witness to the war in Cyprus in 1974 when she and her husband refused to leave their house in Nicosia and survived in their bomb shelter in their garden, the house Elsie is still living in today, the house in No man’s Land right in the military zone of the Turkish army.

Elsie and I agreed that we will meet again at her house that is surrounded by roses and is still the way it was in 1974, nothing has changed. Then she will tell me more.


„Rosen aus der Sperrzone – Verwurzelung verboten”

ISBN No. 978-3-9503295-1-3

Plattform Johannes Martinek Verlag, Perchtoldsdorf/Austria


„Lemons from Paradise“

ISBN No . 978-3-9503295-2-0

Plattform Johannes Martinek Verlag, Perchtoldsdorf/Austria


The books are also mentioned at Amazon


The books can be obtained at

the Khora Bookstore

Muzaffer Pasha Cad

near the crossing to Ledra Palace

Tel 00 90 (0)392 228 9557




Elsie Slonim at HAMUR with Ahmet Cavusoglu
Elsie Slonim at HAMUR with Ahmet Cavusoglu

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