How to hide from a regime of terror

How to hide from a regime of terror

After the Fascist occupation of Austria, the profile of Regina Steinig and Lucia, like that of other Jewish families, strictly follows the plan drawn up by the German bureaucracy. the dismissal of the nun from work, the expulsion of the daughter from school, the arrest and deportation of the ancestor to Buchenwald and his unexplained crime; the authorization of a romantic couple to come to Berggasse 29 – they were Freud’s neighbors – and to confiscate their house; Accommodation in collective housing for Jews; the obligation to endure a yellow spell “the size of a hand”; the insurance company which, like its neighbors, was sent to the death camps. Then appears Reinhold Duschka, a friend of the clan, a discreet and humble steelworker with a reserved personality, a bespectacled mountaineer who decides to face the Holocaust and hide Regina and Lucía in his workshop to save their lives. He hides her in the Werkstättenhof, a solemn industrial building that remains standing in the center of Vienna, where it is hard to imagine that a couple could exist locked up – safely – for four years.

It was a time of barbarism that made every neighbor a potential whistleblower, in a prison circle that ended in the gas chamber. A time that allowed a student like Lucía, on the run from the instigation attached to the building where she hid much of her puberty, to see her hometown in flames and feel like a Heartless. He remained in captivity with his nun between the ages of 11 and 15 between 1941 and 1944. And the last months of the confrontation, during the united siege, they remained hidden in the basement of a commercial building, which Duska acquired in the heart from Vienna. . Fear left her speechless. He lost the ability to babble.

It was Lucia herself who convinced writer Erich Hackl to tell the story in The Invisible String (Editorial Peripheral). For decades, not even Duschka’s clan knew what she had done to free two enemies of the Third Reich. Honored by Israel as a Competition of Nations for the past ninety years, Lucia was heartened when she read Steven Spielberg magazine’s call for Holocaust survivors to tape their interviews. He answered but wanted more. And the result is the Hackl volume.

Why Duska’s silence? She says she fears reprisals in her business and that her beloved climbing club would turn their backs on her. This means that in Austrian society, victims remained victims. “It may be,” Hackl said in a Viennese cafe, “but I think it’s his character. Douchka did not consider his face heroic. She was the wife and daughter of a close archaic friend. And yet they would not have survived those years of World War II hostilities if nothing had happened to Douchka”. Hackl maintains that there were more rescuers than we know. People who risked everything by hiding submarines like those found under the so-called Jews who live on land.

One of his fellow climbers worked for the Gestapo. Yesterday at the end of the confrontation, he received an unknown information that Dushka was hiding two foreign workers in his workshop. ” What happened ? asked the handyman years later. “I threw it in the trash.”

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