What Are You Doing Here?
Walter P. Mittler
Walter gives us a vivid account of the impact on his life and that of his family of Austria's overnight annexation by Germany in March 1938. As a 16 year old, he has retained clear memories of the unrest and uncertainty in the preceding weeks and the horrific events that followed which included his father's inhumane treatment in a concentration camp and the humiliation of his mother and 14 year old twin sisters. Jewish families were immediately subjected to systematic persecution, confiscation and looting of their homes and businesses, sent to concentration camps or forced to scrub pavements with a toothbrush, to the accompaniment of insults from jeering onlookers who included their neighbours and former work colleagues.
We now know that 6,000 Jews committed suicide and that 30,000 left Vienna in the following two years. Among those who left were Walter's sisters who went to farm on a new kibbutz and have lived in Israel ever since. Walter and his parents finally managed to reach England where he and his father set up a self-taught watch-repair business and his mother worked as a cook. Walter later joined the Royal Air Force where he learned to be an instrument repairer. He was able to put his bilingual skills to good use in Germany before starting a new life in Canada where he survived many setbacks and disappointments before fulfilling his vocation as a minister in the United Church of Canada.
The completion of this memoir after many doubts and revisions reflects a dogged determination to overcome adversity. Walter's remarkable resilience in the face of obstacles and disappointments is reflected in his determination to reach the goals he has set for himself throughout his life, of which the most important for him and for those he served was that of becoming a minister of the United Church of Canada. It is a story of triumph over adversity, richly and honestly told. It is also a story of forced exile, emigration and adaptation as a young adult to a new culture that will continue in varying forms until human beings can learn to live without the need to oppress minorities.
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ISBN: 978-1-927541-58-6 | WMPub#8085 | 5½" x 8½"
420 pages; trade paper | $23.95
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Table of Contents
10 What Are We Doing Here?
12 The Memoirs Begin
15 Austria 1922-1939
16 The Horror Begins
Krystallnacht; Shocking Surprise - An Old Friendship; Liechtensteinstrasse 107/11; The Durchhaus (the Through House); Our Flat; The Bicycle; The Streets of Vienna; Vienna's Public Transport; Health Care 1929; The Lehrers; We Meet Out First Dentist; Seder At Wodaks; Our Family; Music, Music, Music; My First Girlfriend - Ruth Bromberger; School Days; The Special Permission; Christmas Celebration; At Viriotgasse Elementary School; Religious Education Classes; Lebensraum (Living Space); Wuerstel (Sausages) Gulyas and Apfelstrudel; The Photographer; Spaziergang und Ausflug (Traditional Leisurely Walk and Country Trips); Scouting For Boys; Troup No. 3 Auer-Welsbach; Camping -My First Bivouac; Camping Realities; Scouting Sundays; Christmas Celebrations; Promotions; Inner City Night Games
52 Grand Parents
Joseph and Elisabeth Mittler; Joseph Mittler Anecdotes; Grandmother Elizabeth Mittler; Greenspace; Geza (Gustav) and Malvine Freund
62 Summer Vacations
Dobersberg on the Thaya; The River Thaya; A Memorable Adventure; Blueberries and Mushrooms; Kernhof im Gebierge (In The Mountains); A Near Tragedy; Bicycle Riding, at Last; Very Sad Days; Praterstrasse 30; My Very Own Radio; The Kopsteins; The Prater Amusement Park; Space To Live And Do; Faith Conflicts; Bar Mitzvah; Young Boys are Puzzled; Monster Homework Assignment; Sinful Behaviour - An Aberration
87 The World Changes
Ominous Shadows; Father Runs the Gauntlet; Fanciful Forecasting Of The Future; Gathering Storm; Turmoil at School; First Good Byes; Indoctrination; The School Environment; At Home; Foreshadowed Change; Emergency Self Help; Alfred Turnowsky & Company; The Family Helps Out; Emigration Dreams; Learning New Skills (Umschulung); Youth Movements; Scouting under Cover; Entrance Into The Promised Land; Home Life; The Great Horror; Release from Agony; The Passport; Liquidation in Shared Living Space; On Our Way at Last; A Leisurely Stroll; A Catastrophic Hitch; Berlin-Lueckenwalde-Ahrensdorf; Passover Celebration in Exile; A Last Anxious Moment
111 BRITAIN 1939-1954 Free At Last On Foreign Soil
Holland England and Freedom; Little Things Mean a Lot; Bloomsbury House; The Placement; Birmingham Watchmaker; Expanded Learning; In the Smoke Shop (the Tobacconist); In the Drawing Room; My Own Bicycle; The Gathering War Clouds; Black September Day; Volunteering For Active Service; Christmas 1939; The Dancing Life; A Great Opportunity; The Birmingham Blitz 1940; My Foreign (Viennese Austrian) Accent; Expanding Business; Expanding War; A Near Miss; War Work; Another Opportunity; The Social Life; Horseback Riding; The George Ray Dance Academy
148 The Royal Air Force
Square Bashing at Skegness; Mail Call; The Brass; ; Unarmed Combat Drill; Hand Grenades; Our Billets; Technical Training; Entry 131; Len Terry; Dancing Times; Camera Specialists; R.A.F. Station Bensen; D- Day; Sticking to My Guns; Routine Inspection; Off Duty; Cheap Travel-The Freedom of the Road; Crash Tender Duty; The Road Forks Again; The Trade Test Board; Promotions
The City of Ghent; The Market; Chaotic Conditions; Office Work; The Ever Present Enemy; Opera and Garrison Theatre; A Memorable New Year's Day; Censorship; On The Move Again; R.A.F. Station Croydon; B.A.F.O. British Air Forces of Occupation; Office Disharmony; The Vorreuther's of Lage in Lippe; Urgent Supplies; Sharing Spoils; Friendly Co-operation; Guns are Liberated; D.P'S (Displaced Persons); Bergen-Belsen Place of Horror; The Wedding; Amsterdam 1945; I Am Posted Once Again; R.A.F. Station Guetersloh; Massen b/Unna - Another Detachment; Life in Massen; Personal Transportation; Making Myself Useful; The Square Area Search; A Domestic Emergency; Return to Routine
227 Doors Open To Another Opportunity
B.A.F.O Headquarters (British Air Forces of Occupation); The B.A.F.O, Safety Drive Campaign; Limited Social Life; Demobilization; The 1947 New Year's Eve Dance; Exciting Personal Good News; The Control Commission; The Final Days of R.A.F. Life; A Disappointment; The Gateway back to Civilian Life
240 The Re-entry Into Civvies Street
The Ex-Service Clubs; Family Business Enterprise; Wedding Day in October; A Wise Word of Caution; Important Contacts; Lost and Found; Business Expansion; Bill's Plating Shop; On The Stage; A Home in Solihall; Family Life; Square Dancing; Expanding Our Living Space; Hair's Let Down; Location, Location, Location; Home Life; Celebrating the Coronation; The Ragman; A Life Changing Day Trip; Misfortune into Fortune; Meeting Our Neighbours Bill and Lil Key; The Home Workshop; Cousin Freddie Freund; Punching The Time Clock; The Reynolds Aluminium Company; Oxygen Bottles; A Surprise Visit; Canada Dialogue Continues; The Ball Begins to Roll
279 Canada 1954 - Now
S.S. Canberra Heads For Canada; Landed Immigrant; Landfall in Montreal Harbour; Visiting My First Indians; Bombshell of a Disappointment One; Bombshell of a Disappointment Two; A Change Of Direction; Successful Collaboration; Michiana Shores; More Job Hunting; Help Wanted; The Arthur Murray School Of Dancing; The Lederers; Embarrassing Blunder; Chastised; Asbestos; Unpleasant Remembrances; Executive Secretary; Back to the Watchmaker's Bench; A Good Deed; Easter 1955; Making New Friends
301 Spreading My Wings
Vic Dowling Real Estate Company; The Real Estate Salesman; Who Am I Working For?; Sight Seeing Excursions; Greener Fields; Another Promising Client; Re-uniting The Family; Peter's New School; The Terra Cotta Farm; Brooklin Meadowcrest; A New Enterprise; The Brooklin Bulletin; The Old Brooklin Community; Troubled Waters on the Home Front; Darkening Skies; I Attempt To Save The Situation; Hypnotism As Entertainment; Lacking Interest; A Legal Separation; Another Disaster; Oh How The World Turns; Difficult Relationships; Sad Times in Brooklin; Break-Up of Relationships; Single Mother; Moving; Deserted; Misprint; The Expeditor; Fired; More Complications; The Oshawa Advertiser; Church Life; Opportunity Knocks Once More; The Western Printer; Back to Oshawa; Precarious Circumstances; Helpful Co-Operation; Faith At Work; Florida Vacation Homes For Retirees; Forced To Face Too Many Obstacles; Taxi Driver; The Silver Taxi Company; Making Money
The Church Doors Open At Last; My Ministerial Service Begins; What's in a Name? A Lot.; Summer Visitors; A Marine Service; Focusing on Ordered Ministry; The College Principal Receives Me at Home; The Will Finds A Way; My First Funeral; The Sacraments; Baptisms Recalled; The First Elmsley Scouts; An Enthusiastic Congregant; Weddings; Memorable Co-Operation; Camping Ministry; Double Duties; Queen's Theological College; Bridging a Gap; An East Coast Trip; A New Innovation; Graduation And Ordination; A Regrettable Hitch; A Trip To The Holy Land; Passports; Travel Details; Experiencing The Holy Land; Worship on Sunday; The Dead Sea; Return To The Old Country; Our First Move; The Wider Church; Co-operative Ministry; A Visit To Nuremberg, Germany; Assembling an ad-Hoc Committee; Deteriorating Relationship; Greener Fields; Opening Doors; New Opportunities; Retirement; Albright Centre; Post Retirement Opportunities; The Canadian Authors Association; CAA 1997 Conference; Awards for Canadian Authors; Ham Operator VE3 WPW; The Skateboard Park; The Writers Group; Hobby Photographer
413 What Am I Doing Here?
414 An Addendum: The Social-political Background