Voices of War
George Clare, Last Waltz in Vienna
In February 1938, the grand Konzerthaus in Vienna was in full, glorious swing; bands were playing, there was dancing and singing and plenty of beer. It was the first ball ever attended by the 17-year-old Georg Klaar, and he stayed until the very last waltz. But on 11 March, lorries began thundering into the streets accompanied by voices of war. Austria was now betrayed and had been annexed by the German Third Reich. Barely four years later, Georg Klaar had become George Clare and was serving in the British army, and his parents had been rounded up and taken to Auschwitz. Only with hindsight can George discern the complex reasons for his family’s destruction, and for the whole appalling waste of war. This is a profoundly moving, honest and compassionate memoir, remarkably devoid of self-pity, though not of anger.
Christabel Bielenberg, The Past is Myself
In 1934, shortly after Hitler’s rise to power, Christabel Burton, a beautiful woman from an influential Anglo-Irish family, married a liberal young German lawyer, Peter Bielenberg, and they settled in Berlin. When Allied bombing made the city too dangerous she fled with their children to a small village in the Black Forest, where she experienced a very different society from the Nazi-dominated one she had left behind. The Past Is Myself is her surprising account of life in that ‘other Germany’, and of her own nail-biting encounter with the Nazi regime.
Elegy to a Family
I have a photo of Aunt Margaret standing outside Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, beret jauntily askew. It is 1937 and, aged 28, she is on her return with a friend from Czechoslovakia, travelling in an...Read more
Kindness of Strangers
‘If you get out now, Gnädige Frau, you can take the underground and you will be in the city in no time,’ said a fellow traveller to Christabel Bielenberg on a stationary train just outside...Read more