Kitty and Otto Suschny both grew up in Vienna, only a couple of streets away from each other, but they never met while growing up. After the Reichspogromnacht in November 1938, both fled Austria for their lives; Kitty went to England, while Otto emigrated to Palestine. After the war, they returned to Vienna, desperate to find out what had happened to their parents. That´s where they met, and they never separated again...
Kitty recalls that in the early 1930s, anti-Semitism did not play a very big role. However, in 1938, as the Nazis entered Austria in what is known as the “Anschluss,” the situation changed dramatically for Austrian Jews.
In 1924, the year Kitty and Otto were born, Vienna was the capital of the First Republic of Austria. The Republic, established in 1919, was created following the end of First World War and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918) and the Republic of German-Austria (1918-1919).
Otto recounts that, even amidst violence and turmoil, his parents believed they would be able to survive in Vienna. Kitty’s mother also figured she would be safe, as her husband had been a soldier in the First World War.
After Kristallnacht the British eased the immigration restrictions for certain Jewish refugees and agreed to allow an unspecified number of children to enter the country. However, after the outbreak of war 1 September 1939, the government no longer took any transports.
For the first two years Otto spent in Palestine, he lived on a Kibbutz. “Kibbutz” means “communal settlement” in Hebrew. Kibbutzim are generally rural communities that are built around the notion of cooperative living.
AFTER THE WAR
In 1946, Kitty and her brother, Harry left Britain and returned to Vienna.
In 1945, Austria had declared the Second Republic, reestablishing Austria as a democratic republic.
Kitty and Harry met at a Pessach gathering organized by Jewish American soldiers at Café Beethoven in Vienna.