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the social security network to all Austrians. They also

promised payments to the unemployed and vacations to

schoolchildren. The war over, we woke up with a major

hangover and buried our shame under geraniums and

furniture polish. When a new referendum was ordered by

the Nazis, workers and bourgeois alike jumped at the

chance to sit in their German uncle’s lap. He might have

rapacious jaws and wandering hands, but his wallet was

well stuffed.

Marianne Gödel had warned us in vain. The more clear-

sighted among Kurt’s Jewish friends were already gone. I

was blind and married to a man who was deaf. Giving in to

my own panic would have dragged Kurt down into a deep

and crippling anxiety. My job was to smooth things over. A

minority was still sounding the alarm, but I belonged to the

silent majority. How do you go against the current of

history when your comfort and your hopes for personal

fulfillment are not in any way altered by that current?

I can’t lie: I saw the broken shop windows, the families

kneeling in the gutter, the abuse of the elderly, the street

arrests. Like all the others, I reacted as though bobbing in a

whirlpool where, to keep from drowning, you think of

yourself first.

I’d asked Anna if I was making a mistake in not

accompanying my future husband to America.