Edith Kurzweil

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Edith Kurzweil (born 1925 Vienna - died February 6, 2016 New York City) was an American writer, and was editor of Partisan Review.


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[1] to New York City, and reunification with their parents.[2]

In 1995, she married William Phillips. She graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology.[3] She taught at Rutgers University.

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.[citation needed]