Conversation with Miriam Cohen

One of the main characters in “The Cross and the Swastika” Miriam Cohen did not initially see the Nazi’s as a real threat.
Question Miriam how did the Nazi’s taking back Austria effect your life?
Miriam:” For a short period of time I thought it would have little effect because Vienna always had strong anti-Semitic roots but up to the Anschluss I ignored this form of prejudice.”

Question: When did you realize how dangerous it was for a Jew in Vienna?
Miriam: “When the restrictions to our freedom were intensified. For a short period the laws seemed trivial, but it was not long before the pain and suffering were intensified by overt acts off punishment and violence.”

Question: Why didn’t the Jews resist this treatment?

Miriam:” We could not resist the violence directly because of the overpowering force of the Nazi’s but we resisted by embracing our Judaism and refusing to abort that which gave us real meaning. You must also understand that we could not imagine that the process would lead to the gas chambers.”

Question” How could you avoid hating the Nazis?
Miriam: “If I hated them I would have been just like them. It is more naïve to hate than to love. I knew that my only hope was to retain the higher ground even in the most horrendous circumstances.”

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