Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Milk soup in Hungary 1917

In the midst of his almost total silence concerning his life before leaving Europe, father occasionally let a little story or fact drop. I think it was when I expressed my amazement that he -- who ate absolutely anything -- wouldn't touch the great milk soup that mother made. 'It was all we ate in the war in Hungary'.

Hungary? Was he saying that the family had uprooted from Vienna and moved to Hungary to escape ... whatever needed to be escaped between 1914 and 1918?  Onkel Max Hecher had already been (wrongly) reported dead. But he had been in uniform. Fighting the Russins. And ended up in a PoW camp in Siberia. But was Hungary that much safer then than Vienna?

Maximilian Hecher

Amongst the little bundle of documents in the latest envelope, I find evidence that they were indeed still in Vienna at Christmas 1916. A front-row ticket for a matinée at the Kaiserjubiläumstheater ... a kiddie show? The Circus Beketow again? Max und Moritz, with Franz Glawatsch, Karl Tuschl and Anny Rainer like last year? 

No! The matinée that day was Der fliegende Holländer. Wow, start them young ...

But Rudi's diary goes quiet for a bit thereafter, and next thing we find them, in 1917, across the border at Erszébet utca 26, Székesféhevár. I wonder why there? Not far from the original Gánsl stronghold in Mór. Family? Apart from the obvious little words, I can only read ''Masern', 'Plattensee' 'Puszta-Gemüse', 'Ungarn' amongst the swathe of old German cursive writing ...

How long did they stay? Here is a photo labelled Plattensee, Summer 1917. Lake Balaton. Hungary. That's Dad in the front, the others are strangers to me.

But then comes an enrolment at the Privatvolksschule, 8 Albertgasse 23, Vienna. A private school? Does it really mean 'private' or  ... Well, well, the staunchest of socialists have been known to weaken on occasion ...

And now the lousy war was over, and the Hungarian episode was over, and father was attending a Kinderball (1 March 1919), Das Wiener Aschenbrödel at the Volksoper (16 March), Der Verschwender at the Burgtheater and visiting such 'spots' as Mönichkirchen for his eighth birthday, or the family's favourite Puchenstuben ... all of which had the mountaineering-skiing bias which was so important to the Ganzls.

Bei Mönachkirchen

Die ganze Familie's favourite summer spot: Puchenstuben

Well, I'll master that horrid script eventually and read the entirety of Rudi's writings, but milk soup or no, they don't seem to have had too horrible a war. Though it had its effects on the early artistic efforts of a four year-old child ..

Father's planes, paddle-boats, trains and airships period seems to have lasted but briefly. And it never really returned. Snow, sky, ski, adventure were more his style ... and by the time the new war came along, he was just arriving in New Zealand. And he ate the rariki weeds from the garden to save money for a house to which he could bring his future bride ... and then she went and made us Milchsuppe!!!!!

Oh, by the way, Onkel Max Hecher survived the war and Siberia. He had forty years of life still left to him.

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