This Is the Place

This is the place for gathering material, but it is not the place for disseminating material.
This is the place where I was born. This is the place I had to leave. This is the place I returned to. This is the place where my grandmother was pushed away from the sideboard by SA-marauders.
This is where it happened. I have to stand up for my grandmother and all those who were pushed – pushed away from sideboards and pushed to their deaths.


I would have liked to look back on different occurrences, but I cannot change those occurrences or my reaction to them. It all was as it was and it is as it is. The act completed in the last fraction of a second is both fact and history. Who or what can change the past? Not even the one they pray to can do that. As the Bard says in Macbeth: “What’s done cannot be undone.”

Neighbors I Never Knew

Josef Burg, the Bukovinian author who wrote in Yiddish, died at the age of 97 on August 10, 2009. In his obituary I read he had come to Vienna in 1935, the year of my birth, to study German at the university. Imagine, he stayed in his aunt’s apartment in Rueppgasse in the 2nd District of Vienna. I spent the first four years of my life the first four years of my life at Rueppgasse 16.
Young Josef was my neighbor for three of them.Rueppgasse is a small street off of Heinegasse. It was a neighborhood in which everybody knew everybody. My family must have known Josef. Unfortunately, I never met him. And today there are no family members to ask about the student who lived in our street.

I had a happy childhood at that address until March of 1938. My mother and my grandmother had adjacent apartments in our house. When the Storm Troopers came to my grandmother’s apartment and rang the bell, I ran to the door and opened it. I can still see the two men entering and ransacking the apartment, as clear as day.My parents managed to get out of “Ostmark” in July of 39, and fortunately Josef was able to leave for Czechoslovakia before the deportations began. Josef’s aunt shared the same fate as my Uncles Fritz and Heinrich and my Aunt Helena in Rueppgasse.

My address in New York from 1960 to 1963 was 55 East 54th Street, right across from the Monkey Bar. Georg Kreisler, the composer of satirical songs, played piano and sang at that venue in the in the 1950s, but it was too late for me to go over and hear him. I never had a chance to meet him, but we did correspond.

From 1963 on I have lived in Gentzgasse 14. Egon Friedell, the author and journalist, lived across the street at Gentzgasse 7 until 1938. When the SA came to his address and rang the bell, he went out on his balcony and yelled, “Get out of the way,” before jumping. So that’s how our lives crossed.