Objects of Remem­brance: A Mem­oir of Amer­i­can Oppor­tu­ni­ties and Vien­nese Dreams

Mon­roe E. Price
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011
Sec­ond Gen­er­a­tion adult chil­dren have recent­ly begun to write about their return to the scenes of their par­ents’ tra­vail not only to explore that past but also to posit their own reac­tions to the coun­try (such as Lev Raphael in My Ger­many, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, 2009), but in the book under review, Price is on a trip to recap­ture what he might have been had Hitler not robbed him of the oppor­tu­ni­ty of grow­ing up in Aus­tria, which he left as an infant. The far less priv­i­leged life this once pros­per­ous fam­i­ly endured in the Unit­ed States while slow­ly climb­ing their way up to mid­dle class respectabil­i­ty, sure­ly dif­fered from the life they would have led in Vien­na — or so he imag­ines. In 1990, there­fore, the author respond­ed affir­ma­tive­ly to Austria’s offer to re-issue pass­ports to those whom they had once degrad­ed, tor­tured, and mur­dered. Writ­ing this book was the incen­tive Price need­ed to ratio­nal­ize the research he under­took that enabled him to res­ur­rect his mul­ti-mem­ber fam­i­ly, the life he would have led as a well-to-do Vien­nese from such a large pros­per­ous fam­i­ly; and as he says, a way, more par­tic­u­lar­ly, to under­stand his coura­geous and inge­nious moth­er and father and, by exten­sion, him­self. While the nar­ra­tive describ­ing Price’s ado­les­cence shows him to have been ham­pered by a sense of being an immi­grant, and to be less than a shin­ing light, at some point, he must have gath­ered him­self because he has achieved dis­tinc­tion in aca­d­e­m­ic and legal purviews in the Unit­ed States, and has suc­cess­ful­ly entered into the process of gain­ing repa­ra­tions for his fam­i­ly from the Aus­tri­an gov­ern­ment. Is this book part of a new genre, per­haps, that of a Sec­ond Gen­er­a­tion, re-estab­lish­ing rather than relin­quish­ing fam­i­ly ties to the coun­tries that once grave­ly pun­ished them?
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

Discussion Questions