Moriz Scheyer, P. N. Singer
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Mr B's review
This is an intense first-hand account of one man’s torturous escape from the Nazis at a time when the world seemed to be turning a collective blind eye to what was happening. Painful to read at times, it’s also compelling and almost thriller-like as the author is forced to flee through occupied France. What sets this account apart from other similarly traumatic stories though is the quality of the insight into the times he lived through and the people he rubbed shoulders with.
In 1943, hidden by the Resistance in a French convent, Moriz Scheyer began drafting an account of his wartime experiences: a tense, moving, at times almost miraculous story of flight and persecution in Austria and France.
As arts editor of Vienna’s principal newspaper before the German annexation of Austria, Scheyer had known the city’s great artists, including Stefan Zweig and Gustav Mahler, and was himself an important literary journalist. In this book he brings his distinctive critical and emotional voice to bear on his own extraordinary experiences: Vienna at the Anschluss; Paris immediately pre-war and under Nazi occupation; the ‘Exodus’; two periods of incarceration in French concentration camps; contact with the Resistance; a failed attempt at escape to Switzerland; and a dramatic rescue followed by clandestine life in a mental asylum run by Franciscan nuns.
Completed in 1945, Scheyer’s memoir is remarkable not just for the riveting events that it recounts, but as a near-unique survivor’s perspective from that time.
An extraordinary rediscovered manuscript, written in hiding by a friend of Stefan Zweig, which evokes the realities of the Holocaust and the French Occupation more vividly than almost anything I’ve read. — Jonathan Coe “Try to understand me,” Moriz Scheyer begs the future readers of his memoir in 1944. And we do, leaving it drained, but exhilarated by the description of how he roamed an unfriendly Europe, stateless. With the publication of this mesmerizing book, his search for asylum might just be over. — Ronald C. Rosbottom, Amherst College, Author * When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light under German Occupatikon, 1940-1944 *
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