She was the daughter of assimilated Viennese Jews, during the Anschluss in March 1938. She watched from a dressmaker’s shop on Tempelgasse in November on Kristallnacht, as Nazi soldiers and ordinary Austrian citizens torched Vienna’s largest synagogue. She was separated from her parents, and fled to a children’s homes near Brussels, and then, to Toulouse in southern France in a boxcar. She acquired transit visas, shepherding her brother on a perilous voyage from France through Spain to Lisbon and thence on the S.S. Excalibur to New York City, and reunification with their parents.
Kurzweil was born in Vienna into a well-to-do Jewish family. She was thirteen years old when, in March 1938, Hitler marched into her hometown. A year later she and her younger brother left for Belgium on a children’s transport. When the German army invaded Belgium, in May 1940, she managed to flee to southern France with the 100 children of the home d’enfants, and then, alone with her younger brother, through Spain and Portugal to meet her parents in New York.
In Vienna, “her father’s America had been depicted in the imposing, silver-covered tome, How They Got Rich and Famous, her own in Karl May’s Winnetou and Juliet Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. . . . His heroes had been John D. Rockefeller and J. P. Morgan, hers had been Old Shatterhand and Scarlett O’Hara. While in Brussels, it was Clark Gable, Joseph Cotten and John Wayne. And . . . since she wasn’t as gifted an actress as Deanna Durbin or Shirley Temple, she planned to turn herself into a glamorous writer. . .” Years later, her father became wealthy, and she became a writer and scholar—a serious rather than a glamorous one.
- 2003 National Humanities Medal
- 1982 Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship
- 1987 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
- Italian entrepreneurs: rearguard of progress. Praeger. 1983. ISBN 978-0-03-061709-6.
- The age of structuralism: from Lévi-Strauss to Foucault. Transaction Publishers. 1996. ISBN 978-1-56000-879-8.
- The Freudians: a comparative perspective. Transaction Publishers. 1997. ISBN 978-1-56000-956-6.
- Darlene M. Juschka, ed. (2001). "Feminists and Freudians". Feminism in the study of religion: a reader. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-4727-2.
- Full circle: a memoir. Transaction Publishers. 2007. ISBN 978-1-4128-0662-6.
- Edith Kurzweil, William Phillips, eds. (1983). Writers & politics: a Partisan review reader. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7100-9316-5.
- Edith Kurzweil, ed. (1996). A partisan century: political writings from Partisan review. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-10331-2.
- Malvine Fischer (2004). Edith Kurzweil, ed. Nazi laws and Jewish lives: letters from Vienna. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7658-0246-0.