FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz

by

Egon Schwarz died on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

It was 3 A.M. on Valentines Day when I received the news.

Egon, escaped from Vienna with his parents after the 1938 Anschluss.  He was 16 at the time and his book Refuge: Chronicle of a Flight from Hitler, is the riveting account of his experience.  It is a must read in these troubled times when so many are seeking refuge from the horrific situations they face in the Middle East or Africa.

After a harrowing trip as undocumented immigrants through Nazi occupied territory Egon and his parents finally refugeeschwarzended up on a boat to South America.  Then he  spent ten years working odd jobs while wandering through Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador until he finally made it to the United States.

But no doubt in the next few days when his obituaries are published in papers around the world they won’t begin with an account of those experiences.  Rather they will indicate that he was a renowned scholar who was a Harvard professor for seven years before moving on to serve as the chair of the Department of German Languages and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  And of course they will mention his many other publications and the many academic prizes he received and the numerous other universities around the world where he was a visiting professor.

One of the remarkable things about Egon is how sharp his mind was and how engaged he was with the world right up until the end of his life.  Here, for example, is an excerpt from the last email I received from him:

“The weather is dark and rainy, reflecting our political mood. We still hope that a figure will arise to collect the diffuse opposition in the country and articulate our collective dissent…The lack of rationality and knowledge is not the only explanation of our debacle. Another is the antiquated system; another the sex of the opposing candidate; a third the shameless lies, the gullibility of voters, the accumilated hatred in their chests and the…etc, etc.”

Our country and the world might have lost something we need a whole lot more of when Egon Schwarz died.  That something is the erudition and compassion he embodied.

But now as I write I hear Egon calling out: “Don’t worry. My spirit lives on in the thousands of individuals like you whose lives I have touched and will continue to touch through my writings.”

In other words, “Egon Schwarz, Presente!”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail