School Years in Troubled Times
I was born in Vienna in 1920, shortly after the end of World War I, and I lived the first 10 years of my life there. Needless to say, I understood very little of what was going on in the world, but perhaps the errors in the interpretations that I made of the world around me in those years are more important to record than what I now understand. I lived with my mother, father, and 5-year-older sister in a large house on the outskirts of Vienna, and whatever went on there was regarded by me in my young years as the normal goings on in a family. My father was picked up punctually every morning by our chauffeur and driven to his office, where he apparently directed a very large organization. I did not know too much of what this meant. I would usually have breakfast with him, but after breakfast, I would go upstairs to the kitchen where the nice cook, a lady from Bohemia (eine böhmische Köchin), supplied me with whatever goodies she could either find in the larder or make up for me. She was a marvelous cook, and I still remember many of her dishes. Meanwhile, my mother, who would usually still be in bed, would hand out to the maid a list of groceries to be obtained on her rounds to the butcher, and the baker, and the greengrocer, and whatever other stores had to be visited to complete the list. (Supermarkets were not introduced in Europe until much later.) Then I would probably go up to my nanny, much of the time a nanny from France, engaged to teach me French. Although my French vocabulary remained very limited, the French pronunciation that I learned has largely stayed with me and helped me in later years. Then there were the piano lessons and the never-ending études that I had to practice for the next day. Or I would go and play around in our spacious garden or help the gardener with some of his jobs.