Otto, the Boy at the Window: Peter Abeles True Story of Escape from the Holocaust and New Life in America by Peter Abeles; Tom Hicks
As sixty-eight year old Peter Abeles confronts his ambivalence over his mother's recent death, he laces together his childhood memories of the prewar Austrian aristocracy his Jewish family belonged to, the rising tide of hate that engulfed them and their decision to flee, and the story of his life in America. In trying to come to terms with his personal history and family, Abeles looks beyond the immediate horrors of the Holocaust and the Diaspora to some of the more subtle effects on the reconstructed lives that followed. He gives a hard, honest account of his upbringing by a cold, demanding father and an embittered, materialistic mother...but he frames that account in forgiveness and redemption, imagining his dead mother as she receives a treasure box of Sefirot, the ten Hebrew words that allow an individual to know Kabbalah, or wisdom. Peter Abeles and Tom Hicks have produced an intelligent and edifying memoir that has much to say about exile and immigration, about class, money, love and forgiveness. In Otto, the Boy at the Window, they offer readers some hard-earned shreds of Kabbalah.Praise for Otto, the Boy at the Window:"This unforgettable book opens with the death of Abeles' mother in Long Island when he was 68, which prompts him to reflect on his Viennese childhood in the 1930s. His mother was strict and possessive, and his father was unyielding. The father owned a thriving wholesale shoe business, and the family had servants and tutors. Abeles relives the Anschluss of March 12, 1938, when the Nazis took control of Austria, and he remembers mobs of Nazi sympathizers destroying synagogues and Jewish-owned properties during Kristallnacht in November of that year. In November 1939, the family sailed from Rotterdam to New York with only $10 left from their fortune. They went to Chicago, where two sponsoring families met them. Abeles recounts his subsequent service in the U.S. Air Force, his success in the business world, and his love of family life in this story of reconciliation and forgiveness, which is told with grace and insight."