Love in Exile: An American Writer's Memoir of Life in Divided Berlin

Edith Anderson, Author Steerforth Press $29.5 (405p) ISBN 978-1-883642-67-9
Anderson tells how, as an ""East Bronx plebeian,"" she left America in 1947 to share her German husband's life in Allied-occupied Berlin. When they met during WWII, Max Schroeder was a left-wing German exile and survivor of a concentration camp in Vichy France, editing an anti-Nazi periodical in New York. Anderson, cultural editor of the U.S. Communist Party's Daily Worker for a brief stint, had a conservative Jewish upbringing and joined her nominally Protestant, Communist husband in Germany with some trepidation. Her portrait of a Germany in ruins, eager to forget German war guilt and the massacre of at least 11 million people, is chilling. En route to Berlin, her stopover in Paris provides tantalizing glimpses of exiled novelist Richard Wright, Bertolt Brecht and Simone de Beauvoir. In Germany she and Max--theater critic at night, editor-in-chief of a literary publishing house by day--consorted with a lively circle of writers, painters, intellectuals and activists. In 1950 the couple moved to Soviet-controlled East Berlin. With 20/20 hindsight, Anderson charts her disillusionment with her Marxist faith and records the arrests, disappearances and suicides of associates while, over in West Berlin, ""denazified"" individuals and families got a boost from the Western occupying powers. Her marriage survived multiple strains--her husband's workaholism and abuse of alcohol, her own homesickness and sexual affair with a married neighbor, juggling her career as a translator and writer with raising a daughter--and she movingly describes Max's battle against cancer, to which he succumbed in 1958. Anderson, who still lives in Berlin, is a wonderfully perceptive observer of people, events and places, making this a memorable Cold War chronicle. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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