Meeting Arthur Kern

It was a sunny afternoon in March 2003. Birds were singing outside, and the first flowers had just started to blossom on our quiet street in Vienna. At that time, I lived in an old apartment built around the turn of the past century, with high windows and even higher ceilings. It was located in the Ninth District, a part of Vienna that houses some of the grand palaces that give the city its imperial charm.

In the first half of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud lived nearby; so did the author Heimito von Doderer. Then as now, the Ninth District was an upper-middle class neighborhood that attracted many writers, so it was fitting that my mother, a journalist, had decided to move there and that we collectively filled our apartment with books.

I was 11 and the time, and I remember that Shakira gave a concert in Vienna on that same day, and, for several weeks, many of my school friends had been looking forward to it. I didn’t get to meet any pop stars on that March day, but I met a couple of people who were much more important: Trudie and Arthur Kern.

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Published in The Forward (November 2018)
This essay is adapted from “Arthur und Lilly” by Lilly Maier (Heyne 2018).

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