Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview
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Another Blow

Scorn poverty: no one is as poor as he was at birth. Scorn pain:
either it will go away or you will. . . . Scorn fortune: I have given
her no weapon with which to strike your soul.
-- Seneca, On Providence

With the new year 1939, the Nazis were flush with victory. The city that had rejected Hitler as a young artist thronged to welcome the triumphant Führer along the route of his motorcade to the Hotel Imperial, whence he paid visits to the theater and other sights of the imperial city.

Alma spent long hours in lines with the hundreds of other Viennese waiting to launch appeals to the Nazi bureaucracy and to comply with the new laws governing Jewish households. A mistake could bring disaster, and she had to thrust her impatience aside and take each small step required to get the necessary exit permissions and to pay the "refugee taxes" levied on Jewish emigrants. The Pyrkergasse apartment was to be "Aryanized" the first week in March 1939, and she and her father would be forced to move. It is a tribute to the future occupants of the apartment that they told the Rosés they could wait to take possession until father and daughter had wound up their affairs.

For weeks Alma passed up lunch, too busy to take a break. Fortunately Arnold had overpaid his taxes, which allowed him to pay the many special levies. Arnold asked Alfred to request yet another "invitation" from Louis Meijer in Holland, in case he and Alma had to leave in haste despite Alma's preparations for an orderly departure.

Heini and a friend of his from childhood pitched in to help as they could, but the burden fell on Alma, with Manina working faithfully at her side. In negotiations with the bureaucracy, Alma enlisted the aid of a few friends still in the administration. If all were done correctly, she and her father might be able to leave Vienna with most of their possessions.

The news from Alfred and Maria was encouraging. Alfred had a music


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