Reluctant Return: A Survivor's Journey to an Austrian Town

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Indiana University Press, Jul 22, 1999 - History - 208 pages

"This beautifully written memoir, which shifts smoothly from past to present as it blends memory and contemporary experience, is a story that will resonate with any sensitive Jew. [The book] intrigues and challenges, transcends the personal and becomes a universal statement." -- Hadassah Magazine

"In an astonishing and moving document, Weiss... describes his 1995 return trip to the Austrian hometown from which, as a boy, he fled Nazi persecution in 1938..... [T]his soul-searching odyssey... will reward readers of all faiths." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A powerful and unusually eloquent memoir of a prominent Austrian Holocaust survivor invited back to face... old ghosts and demons.... An intelligent and profound memoir." -- Kirkus Reviews

David Weiss is an eminent biomedical scientist, now living in Israel. But in 1938 he was an 11-year-old boy in Austria who dramatically escaped the Nazis with his family. For some 56 years Weiss held a deep and abiding enmity for everything Austrian and German. Reluctant Return is his account of his emotional return to his hometown of Wiener Neustadt, the remarkable Christian group that brought it about, and the visit's surprising echoes and consequences.

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RELUCTANT RETURN: A Survivor's Journey to an Austrian Town

User Review  - Kirkus

A powerful and unusually eloquent memoir of a prominent Austrian Holocaust survivor invited back to face and forgive old ghosts and demons. Weiss is a prominent Israeli immunologist and author of ... Read full review

Contents

A Call from Helmuth Eiwen
1
Ulis Visions
8
Guardian Angel as Starshina
19
Roots and Specters
25
The Tactics of Remembrance
33
Encounter at the Holyland
39
A Thousand Years in a BloodStained Land
63
Wiener Neustadt March 1938 and Escape
69
Berkeley to Jerusalem
87
Pater Johannes Vrbecky
96
Hillel and Yair Sign On
102
Wiener Neustadt May 1995
110
What the Pastor of Ichthys Has Caught in His Net
181
When One Stands Face to Face
188
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Page 173 - The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone ; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always...
Page 4 - Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. ;And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. 'And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Page 173 - ... sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew ; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
Page 169 - Greatest day and night ; thou rollest away the light from before the darkness, and the darkness from before the light ; thou makest the day to pass and the night to...
Page 169 - Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who at thy word bringest on the evening twilight, with wisdom openest the gates of the heavens, and with understanding changest times and variest the seasons, and arrangest the stars in their watches in the sky, according to thy will.
Page 169 - With everlasting love thou hast loved the house of Israel, thy people ; a Law and commandments, statutes and judgments hast thou taught us. Therefore, O Lord our God, when we lie down and when we rise up we will meditate on thy statutes: yea, we will rejoice in the words of thy Law and in thy commandments for ever ; for they are our life and the length of our days...
Page 138 - Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world He created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom during your life and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel, speedily and in the near future. And say Amen. This liturgical prayer, with some striking similarities to the Lord's Prayer, is one of Jesus

About the author (1999)

Born to an old and distinguished Jewish family in Austria, David W. Weiss fled as a child with his parents and sister from Nazi persecution, reaching the United States in 1939. He earned a Ph.D. in microbiology at Rutgers University and a D. Phil. in medicine from Oxford University. A former professor of bacteriology and immunology at the University of California Berkeley, in 1966 he immigrated to Israel, where he founded and directed the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition to numerous publications in biomedical science, Weiss is the author of works on Jewish law and philosophy, including The Wings of the Dove: Jewish Values, Science, and Halachah.

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