The Lost Café Schindler: One Fam­i­ly, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020

Meriel Schindler’s father, Kurt, was a hand­some, per­sua­sive, and charm­ing racon­teur. Kurt was full of anec­dotes about their fam­i­ly’s illus­tri­ous rela­tions, rang­ing from Franz Kaf­ka to Oskar Schindler to Dr. Bloch, but Schindler was nev­er sure whether any of these tales were true. When Kurt died sud­den­ly in 2017, she was forced to con­front both their frac­tured rela­tion­ship and the truth behind his tall tales of their fam­i­ly his­to­ry. Scat­tered around the iso­lat­ed cot­tage where Kurt lived out his final years, Schindler found the phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of these sto­ries, includ­ing piles of Nazi-era doc­u­ments relat­ed to her fam­i­ly’s fate in Inns­bruck and a trea­sure trove of fam­i­ly albums reach­ing back to pre-World War I.

The mem­oir cen­ters around the famous Café Schindler, which the author’s grand­fa­ther opened in 1922 to glit­ter­ing suc­cess. Schindler’s research leads her to uncov­er the heart-wrench­ing sto­ry of how her fam­i­ly’s busi­ness was appro­pri­at­ed dur­ing the Nazi era, the post-war legal bat­tle waged by the pro­pri­etor who ille­gal­ly laid claim to it, and the ulti­mate res­ur­rec­tion of the café in a new own­er’s hands.

Through the sto­ry of the café and the threads that spool out from it, The Lost Café Schindler depicts how an ordi­nary fam­i­ly sur­vived extra­or­di­nary times and offers read­ers a pro­found reflec­tion on mem­o­ry, truth, trau­ma, and the impor­tance of cake.

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