Asylum: A Survivor's Flight from Nazi-Occupied Vienna Through Wartime France

When Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, Moriz Scheyer was an arts editor writing for one of Vienna's main newspapers. He was also Jewish, a fact that became a matter of life and death under Nazi rule. Asylum is Scheyer's memoir of the events leading up to and through his years as a refugee, first in Austria and later in France. It was written while hiding in a Catholic convent and hospital for the mentally ill, before the Allied invasion. Scheyer, his wife and a close family friend lived there surrounded by nuns who risked their own lives to protect them, as well as the 80 or so patients under their care.

With candor and introspection on what it meant to be a Jew during this time, Scheyer muses on the physical brutality, as well as psychological and spiritual damage, the Nazis inflicted on his family and all Jews under their control. He leads readers through his harrowing moments of deportation from Austria, his internment in a French concentration camp and subsequent rescue, his attempt to flee into neutral Switzerland and, finally, his years in hiding where--as he and others like him waited moment by moment for the agony to end--he wrote. He reflects on the ease with which non-Jews collaborated with the Nazis, and on those who actively resisted the party's atrocious demands.

The original Asylum manuscript was destroyed in 1949 by Scheyer's stepson, but a copy was later found and translated by his step-grandson P.N. Singer, allowing readers rare insight into one man's mind during this tragic historical era. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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