"A must-read for a new understanding of the Holocaust in Vienna."
—Esther Safran Foer, author of I Want You to Know We're Still Here
A defiant memoir from contemporary Europe: In autumn 1942, Anna Goldenberg’s great-grandparents and one of their sons are deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Hans, their elder son, survives by hiding in an apartment in the middle of Nazi-controlled Vienna. But this is no Anne Frank-like existence; teenage Hans passes time in the municipal library and buys standing room tickets to the Vienna State Opera. He never sees his family again. Goldenberg reconstructs this unique story in magnificent reportage. She also portrays Vienna’s undying allure—although they tried living in the United States after World War Two, both grandparents eventually returned to the Austrian capital. The author, too, has returned to her native Vienna after living in New York herself, and her fierce attachment to her birthplace enlivens her engrossing biographical history. A probing tale of heroism, resilience, identity and belonging, marked by a surprising freshness as a new generation comes to terms with history’s darkest era.
"An intimate account of a courageous family whose rich life in Vienna unravels into a struggle for survival. A suspenseful story of bravery, dignity, and the love of a city that withstands its bleakest chapter."
—Anne-Marie O'Connor, author of The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
"Why would you return to a city that tried to murder you? Here is the story of one Jewish family that did ... Blends history, biography, and memoir ... Well-researched, intimate, evocative look at some of the 20th century’s foulest days."
"Absorbing ... What distinguishes Goldenberg’s book from much of the vast library of Holocaust literature is its distance from the campaign to exterminate European Jewry. It is the story of a young woman’s attempt to make sense of history more than it is a direct evocation of the roundups, cattle cars, and gas chambers ... Will leave Americans fascinated by the cruelty and loyalty born in the city of Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, and Anna Goldenberg."
"A meticulous evocation of an unknown Austria, Anna Goldenberg’s affecting family memoir brings to life the story of Viennese Jews who decided not to flee their homes after the Anschluss. This salutary tribute forces us to reflect on what it means to try and live a 'normal life' in the throes of a political nightmare."
—George Prochnik, author of The Impossible Exile and Stranger in a Strange Land
"A must-read for a new understanding of the Holocaust in Vienna and why a Jewish family would not let itself be uprooted despite the city's dark past."
—Esther Safran Foer, author of I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir
"Goldenberg presents a vivid picture of life in Vienna under Nazi rule ... Thoughtful research and engaging style make this a valuable addition to Holocaust literature."
"The value and virtue of this book is that it personalizes and humanizes a global reign of terror into an understandable drama."
—The Arts Fuse
"Anna Goldenberg explores questions of national identity and personal trauma ... a fascinating look at how two Jewish families navigated an increasingly hostile nation."
—Words without Borders
“Anna Goldenberg brings the memory of her grandparents to life and sweeps us away with her portrayal of bravery and endurance. This is an important and wonderful book.”
—Doron Rabinovici, author of Elsewhere and The Search for M
“Goldenberg has written a big, important, quiet and disturbing book. It is ruthless and precise, honest and inquisitive, showing the bright side of a family’s fate as well as the dark.”
“A kaleidoscopic picture of the varied perceptions of the oncoming Holocaust and how the Jewish population of Vienna responded to its events and risks.”
“Goldenberg reveals the mechanisms by which people were initially deprived of their rights, then their property, and finally their lives—the processes necessary for dehumanization.”