Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll

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.


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