Cover of Left Behind in Nazi Vienna

Left Behind in Nazi Vienna

Letters of a Jewish Family Caught in the Holocaust, 1939-1941

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McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers


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In 1938 when Hitler annexed Austria making it part of his Greater German Reich, approximately 185,000 Jews lived in Vienna. Unlike their counterparts in Germany proper, these Jews had only a short time to make plans to emigrate. The development and application of racially discriminatory policies in Germany took nearly five years to come to full fruition. In Austria, the ruthless attempts at exclusion of the Jewish population from both social and economic institutions took barely five months. The editor and his parents were among the few individuals who were fortunate to gain entrance into the United States during this time of crisis. Four days before their departure, the U.S. visa stamped in their passports was the only thing that saved the three from deportation to Poland. The Sechers unavoidably left behind five members of their immediate family who were still waiting to receive visas, but they firmly believed, even as rumors of further restrictive policies against the Jews circulated, that the remaining members of their family would be well out of reach of Nazi policies designed to remove Jews from their homes. There is a lengthy introduction, but the major part of the book is a chronological arrangement of the many letters exchanged between the father and mother and those individuals left behind in Vienna. The letters tell a story of the struggles the remaining five faced in their efforts to stay alive. Of the five persons who contributed to this correspondence, only Fanny Secher (the author's paternal grandmother) died a natural death. The others were deported and never heard from again.

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