I am a depository of accurate observations about historically interesting times. Fascination with the extreme brutalities of the 20th century will not abate soon. Animated by a sense of duty towards those who suffered and perished, I want to chronicle some of their lives. I am not writing trivial biographies but rather offer a period picture unmatched in fascinating detail and drama while set in a true historical context.
I am a member of a herd of Central Europeans who are practicing refugees from the dreamlands of civilization that was the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire. Those of us descendent of families of the great Central European empire have been robbed and looted by Nazis and Communists and we were forced to spend much time dodging bullets, fleeing unjust persecutions and yet remained contented, knowing that we cannot be robbed of our dignity. We were determined to physically and culturally survive the brutalities of totalitarian dictatorships. As we looked down on our tormentors we felt secure in knowing that we were the remnants of a civilized world and they were the barbaric scum that had always preyed on the productive and envied their charmed lives of happiness. Dictatorships are the societies that hate and persecute happiness and contentment. Ironically, the leading thugs
are not allowed to enjoy their powers either and live in mortal fear of each other.
We never felt sorry for ourselves, we knew how to despise the deplorable and we did not snuggle up to our tormentors begging for their mercy.
The great lessons in life were learned and they included the arduous task of turning potential adversaries into allies without compromise with evil. One stubbornly remained through these historically important and turbulent times an asset to others and never turned a liability. Traitors to the heritage of civilization were despised. Bewildered by atrocities, amazed by the human capacity for cruelty which outranked even stupidity, we continued to walk with head high, and with a steady gaze on a future cajoled by optimistic fantasies that stoked the fires of hope.
As the European civilization committed suicide with the Great War, its confused population displayed a variety of survival skills that one hoped never to have ever to witness.
I grew up in large mansions and small palaces owned by my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and finally, one by myself. Being the eldest son the inherited estate with its “castle” was put into my name as expected by “primogeniture.” An estate that was bequeathed by the emperor at the time a person was elevated to the aristocracy, had to be bequeathed to the first-born son.
I intend to tell an important story. I am a witness with an organized intellect. I can tell an interesting story well because I do not make it up, merely chronicle it. Nothing is more fascinating than the truth. The truth is more poignant than the data that supports it. I will not write a docu-drama. On purpose I will hide real names by replacing them. Will alter facts without damaging the meaning of the narrative. Mass media helped statisticize the events of the world. I tell stories of people often in camouflage, who lived real lives in real circumstances but not necessarily recognizable in order to protect them.
I feel as if I have lived for two centuries. I was brought up in a nineteenth century European culture lingering by conservative traditions. It was considered virtuous and wise to adhere to the standards of “La Belle Epoch” the height of European civilization. But I also arrived in the 21st Century’s civilization in America. In between I lived, suffered and survived the glories and the barbarities of the 20th century. A privileged life for not ever having been boring.
Throughout my life I spent a great deal of time envying myself. If there were reincarnation, then the in my next life I would want to come back again as me. I managed a privileged life for myself, despite the designs of the conquerors, the tyrants, the social “reformers” and the economic looters of recent history. Even when the till was empty, I remained wealthy within as my plenty came from my fabulous family and inner life. Aristotle said, “Memories are the scribes of the soul.” I have extraordinary memories.
I arrived at the “end station” from which there can be no more journeys without hazards. I got here risking my life and when I surprised myself by surviving, became the recipient of endless blessings in liberty, opportunity and human kindness. Now, in the comforts of wonderful friendships I am anxious to recall some memories in order to tell about the silently suffering multitudes, by now exhausted or in their graves.