THE STORY OF THE SQUARE
Quilt 1, Square 9
Artist: Lisa Saretzky
My father ran around trying to save me; an uncle and aunt, refugees in London, found a Jewish family willing to take me. My father heard of Kinder-transport and I was able to get on (either the last or the next to last one) in August, 1939. I went to my English family for 9 months and then came to U.S.A. in 1941.
I wrote this in a creative writing class:
I am in front of Mullnergasse 14. The cabby tells me to get out — I’m numb and cold, but I obey. This is “my street,” this is where I was born, this is where I left at thirteen, this is what I waited to see for sixty long years. I look up at the tall stately old European building; those huge carved iron front gates, the delicate balconies full of joyful wildflowers! It all haunts me, like an evil giant who lures me in, only to devour me later. I see my family, I smell our sweat as we hug for comfort. I hear the leather-booted men, I see their perfectly pleated brown shirts, the crisp swastika on their left arm. It all rushes in: my childhood, the Nazis, the train with 500 Jewish children going to Holland, on to England — to safety and freedom and life.
My head pounds, I take a deep breath — the Vienna air is crisp, I smell schnitzel coming out of an open window. I start climbing up the pink marble stairs. Up, up, up, I’ve come too far to stop now. I stand in front of door number 21 — my old apartment; I ring the bell....
Lisa Saretzky, born Lisl Rubin—Vienna, Austria, 1925
Sands Point, NY February 1996