Posted on March 11, 2023
A few days ago, I became Austrian. This wasn’t a total surprise — I’d applied for citizenship soon after their government amended the law to enable the descendants of those fleeing Nazi persecution to do so. To be clear, I retain views on making my grandparents stateless but I had been looking forward to acquiring an EU pet passport for my dog, Gracie. Free movement of beagles, if you will.
If this sounds flippant, it’s by design. I don’t feel grateful, guilty or really anything at all. This is a transaction and all the parties know it. They took something from my family and I’m claiming it back, with as little emotional energy expended in the reclamation as they exerted in the expulsion.
My gratitude is focused towards Britain, which took in both of my grandparents. Otherwise, they may have been murdered somewhere in eastern Europe, two more added to the list of 65,000 Austrian Jews exterminated in the Holocaust. Though, we must be honest with ourselves, the Kindertransport is no moral indemnity for Britain, only a small crack flowing from the catastrophic failure of the Evian Conference.