After Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Herbert Kuhner was forced to leave Austria in 1939. In his Memoirs Kuhner presents the balance sheet. Kuhner’s book deals with his experiences after returning to the “new Austria.In it he describes the incredible chain of intrigue, baseness and calumny that he has encountered. The aspects of Austria life that the author brings to the fore in his Memoirs, which have been unanimously rejected by the “independent” jury of the Municipal Cultural Departmenof the City of Vienna, must not be hushed up.
– Karin Bauer, Der Standard, Vienna

“This is a chronicle of an Austrian emigré, who as a child had to flee from the Nazis to the United States and who as a young man returned to the scene of the crime and discovered that the moral substance of the Austrian character has basically remained unchanged since 1945.Against the background of exemplary political, cultural-political and artistic emanations of an intolerant provincialism, which is a frightening way, of ever more bluntly anti-Semitic resentments, which we believed to have been overcome, the author creates a kaleidoscope of his personal life experiences in Austria, which were so bitter, depressing, humiliating and indeed frightening, that he finally comes to the dreadful conclusion: ‘When I returned to my birthplace to live, it was if I had never left’”
– David Axmann, Der Ausschluß/ Memoirs Afterword

“Memoirs of a 39er is the story of an unrequited love. The experiences of the author who was born in Vienna, had to flee the Nazis in early years, grew up in America and returned to Vienna with the illusion that he would be welcomed with open arms in his birthplace. But for those who love without being loved in return, a rude awakening in inevitable. Kuhner brings the experiences of his remigration to life in bright colors. His conflict with Austrian bureaucracy would be comical were it not tragic. I hope that he will find another location for his talents and finally accept the fact that his love for Austria and its capital Vienna   can be nothing but un-requited.”
– Stella Hershan, Austro-American author, New York

“Harry, I am deeply moved by your pieces on remigration. This is powerful stuff and it rings with truth…
It’s impossible to use irony on fascists. They don’t get it.”
– Winston Kulok, Village Empire, New York

“I kept looking for an answer to the question ‘Why did he go back?’ The thought of returning to Austria never occurred to me.”
– George Clare, a writer who emigrated to Britain

“It is incomprehensible to me how any Jew could ever return to the killing grounds. You chose to go to Hell and then you complain that the landscape is littered with devils.”
– Cynthia Ozick, writer, USA

”Harry, you are wonderfully dedicated to high purpose! I don’t know who but you could write so well on these topics. You need to find a place in yourself to feel well. They say you take yourself wherever you go, and it may be that your habit of seeing the world so harshly will fly with you to even the finest abode. But you are steeping in this pain right now.I do so want to see you applying your genius to more life-affirming subjects.”
– David B. Axelrod, poet, New York

“Memoirs of a 39er is a chronicle of Herbert Kuhner’s heroic opposition to the hardships of trying to be a literary man in a country whose cultural climate is antipathetic to him, and indeed seems to present him at every turn with new sources of agony.”
– Emile Capouya, writer, critic and my literary mentor

“First they attack you. Then they accuse you of being a problem, when you defend yourself.”
– David B. Axelrod, poet, New York

My encounter has been with assassins of the spirit. They have proven to be Worthy successors to their predecessors.