AJR Book Club – Meriel Schindler, ‘The Lost Café Schindler’
Starts on Mon, 21 Jun 2021 18:00 British Summer Time (UTC+1)
The Lost Café Schindler started with a tower of photos and papers found when Meriel’s father died & led her to an epic journey of discovery.
About this event
When Meriel Schindler’s father Kurt died in 2017, she felt compelled to resolve her mixed feelings about him, and to solve the mysteries he had left behind.
Kurt Schindler was an impossible man. His daughter Meriel spent her adult life trying to keep him at bay. Kurt had made extravagant claims about their family history. Were they really related to Franz Kafka and Oscar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame? Or Hitler’s Jewish doctor – Dr Bloch? Where exactly was Kurt on Kristallnacht, the night that Nazis beat his father half to death and ransacked the family home?
Starting with a tower of photos and papers found in Kurt’s isolated cottage, Meriel embarked on an epic journey of discovery that took her to Austria, Italy and the USA. She reconnected family members scattered by feuding and war. She pieced together a unique story taking in two centuries, two world wars and a family business: the famous Café Schindler. Launched in 1922 as an antidote to the horrors of the First World War, this grand café became the whirling social centre of Innsbruck. And then the Nazis arrived…
Meticulously researched and highly moving, The Lost Café Schindler uses the story of the Café Schindler and the threads that spool out from it to weave together memoir, family history and the untold story of the Jews of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Meriel will be in conversation with fellow second-generation author Debra Barnes.
‘Writing The Lost Café Schindler has been a profound personal experience for me, and shown me the restorative power of writing. As well as uncovering extraordinary things about my family, it’s enabled me to reflect on memory, truth and trauma – not forgetting the importance of cake’. MERIEL SCHINDLER
Meriel Schindler spent the first 15 years of her life growing up in central London before suddenly being moved to a convent school in provincial Austria. Five years later she moved back to the UK to study French and German at university and is now an employment lawyer, partner and head of a team at Withers, a law firm. Meriel is also a trustee of Arvon, the writing charity, is married to husband Jeremy and has three grown-up children.