Full Circle by Edith Kurzweil
The writer and intellectual Edith Kurzweil traces not one but three concentric circles in this account of what she calls a “chopped-up life.” The innermost circle is a story of childhood fear and daring. During the Anschluss of Austria in March 1938, the thirteen-year-old Edith, the daughter of assimilated Viennese Jews, looked on with dread from her apartment window as lines of storm troopers paraded unendingly by. A few months later, on a November evening that would come to be known as Kristallnacht, she watched shivering in fear from a dressmaker’s shop on Tempelgasse as Nazi soldiers and ordinary Austrian citizens torched Vienna’s largest and loveliest synagogue.
Soon the Nazi fury had separated Edith and her younger brother from their parents and was pursuing them through a series of dislocations—first to wretched children’s homes near Brussels, and then, when the Germans overran Belgium in May 1940, to Toulouse in southern France via a bruising eight-day journey in a boxcar. Miraculously, Edith managed to acquire the necessary transit visas, shepherding her brother on a perilous voyage from France through Spain to Lisbon and thence on the S.S. Excalibur to New York and reunification with their parents.
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