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life that history didn’t allow me to bring together. Not

inviting Lieesa was to betray my youth. Not inviting Anna

was to betray my gratitude toward her. But it was

unimaginable, and in fact dangerous, to bring Anna, my

Jewish friend, in contact with Lieesa. And both Kurt and I

wanted the ceremony to gloss over our tricky pasts.

Consenting finally to give me his name, Kurt had also

passed on to me his worst feature, his inability to make

difficult decisions—when, that is, the choice involved flesh-

and-blood creatures and not mathematical symbols. Anna

had made no objections; she understood. I brought her a

slice of wedding cake and some candied almonds for her

boy. Lieesa no longer spoke to me and hadn’t for some

time. “Frau Gödel.” Now I was



In a few minutes on September 20, 1938, after ten years of

shameful cohabitation, I, Adele Thusnelda Porkert, no

profession, daughter of Joseph and Hildegarde Porkert, was

married to Dr. Kurt Friedrich Gödel, son of Rudolf Gödel

and Marianne Gödel, née Handschuh. I removed my white

gloves to sign the register. Then Kurt took the fountain pen

and flashed one of his contrite little smiles at me. He kissed

me, looking away from his brother. I readjusted the flower

in his buttonhole. I was happy. A tiny victory, but a victory

all the same. The circumstances didn’t matter, the old coat,

the unanswered questions. Why now? Why so quickly, two

weeks before his departure? Kurt’s mother, who had stayed

in Brno, filled the echoing room with her unspoken

disapproval. Marianne Gödel had given her consent but not