Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2018
The six months came to an end and my son's contract expired. I had given some thought to staying in Paris to continue my projects, when my wife wrote that my mother was coming to visit us from London. I hadn't seen her in fourteen years. I decided to return to New York with Wolfgang. Most of all, I didn't want to be apart from my wife any longer. It was financially impossible for her to join me in France. Once I'd returned, there was no way we could both go.
My son and I embarked from Le Havre in February of 1947. My mother came to New York and fell seriously ill. She fought with death for many weeks. There were other heavy shocks: the death of my friend Borchardt. The death of Kurt Weill. The death of my mother-in-law, who had lived with us since 1941. In 1950 my son was drafted into the Korean War, a great misfortune for my wife and me. Wolfgang's consolation, “You can't be against communism and let the others fight!” didn't make it any easier for us.
I took walks or exercised, cooked our meals, read a lot, and met my friend Vambery in the evenings. We walked slowly along the river in the heat, and I dreamed out loud about the beauty of the stained glass windows of St. Chapelle. Vambery observed: “You always talk about the beautiful exterior—you don't know anything about what's inside!”
I couldn't get away from this thought; it wouldn't let itself be shaken off. How could I find out about what was inside?
At the house of Klaus Dohrn I made the acquaintance of Baroness von Guttenberg, whose son was a member of the West German Parliament. She lived in New York and collected money for children who had lost their parents owing to the war or expulsion. We talked about my interest in meeting with a priest. I wasn't thinking of converting, nor was I looking for an intellectual discussion. I simply wanted to come in contact with someone whose faith was absolute.