Princess Ileana's memoirs were originally entitled I LIVE AGAIN. The JOURNAL printed the first installment under its own title of I WAS A PRINCESS, but at the request of the Princess, we are restoring the original title to this and subsequent installments, in order that there may not be any possible implication that Princess Ileana has in any way recognized the enforced abdication of her nephew, King Michael of Romania, or relinquished any right of her own. It was not, of course, the JOURNAL'S intention to convey any such implication, and we are happy to publish this statement in order to leave no room for misunderstanding.
The completed book, under the title of I LIVE AGAIN, will shortly be published by Rinehart and Company.
"Habsburg here?" asked the postman, before, like most of her new neighbors, he had begun to address her as Princess Ileana.
At Balcic, Ileana wore Turkish dress, the costume of most of the local population. Here her mother successfully grew Madonna lilies she had loved in England. "Nando," as Marie called King, also loved flowers; took long walks seeking plants for his rock garden, from which he seldom returned without a nosegay
The child princess and beautiful Queen mother. "Ileana was the child of my soul," Marie wrote in her memoirs. "It was never necessary to teach her right from wrong. She knew." Ileana, seven, was interpreter for American Red Cross director in Romania.
Once expert skier, Ileana now suffers from arthritis, but children are good. She taught them all to swim: "Magi could swim before she could walk." Stefan has motorcycle, last summer made $30 per week driving truck.
On Black Sea. Of mother, Ileana says, "I cannot tell what she was or what she meant to me. Everyone loved her; everything was nicer when she was there." Marie called Victoria "Grandmama Queen," the Empress of Russia, "Grandmama Empress."
When they became King and Queen (after death of Carol I in 1914) Marie gave Ferdinand a golden bowl inscribed, "Tomorrow may be thine if thy hand be strong enough to grasp it." Photo shows state entrance to Bucarest after coronation in 1922. Ferdinand was quiet, reserved scholar; Marie, married at seventeen, said, "For Nando I was a glass of champagne at a dull dinner." King sometimes joined youngest daughter at "dressing up"; for one memorable party he was Indian chief with blanket robe and bright-feathered headdress.
On her visit to Spain in 1930, Ileana first met Archduke Anton of Austria, whom she married in 1931.
Arriving in New York for coast-to-coast tour. Marie, asked if Ileana helped her write, said, "No, she spells too badly." Of Carol, "He made a great mistake and must take his punishment." At White House "Silent Cal" talked amiably to personable seventeen-year-old Princess Ileana.
Honeymoon was flight to London in their own plane; Anton is skilled pilot, radio "ham," engineer. On frequent flights from Sonnberg, they carried current baby in an "albie" (large aluminum bowl).
In winter frozen moat at Sonnberg made rink where whole family skated with Marie; one side of castle square was reserved for her. Ileana helped shear sheep, spun yarn, knitted socks and jerseys. She designed glove knit with two needles.
Pistols fired in air celebrated Ileana's marriage, after which she and Anton were served bread and salt from wooden platter in old Roman custom. Bride was given away by Carol II, while Dowager Queen Marie and Michael looked on. Anton wore full evening dress; Ileana's gown was white satin with long silver train. She wore spun gold on wedding veil as is the Romanian tradition.
"Michael's youth had been sad . . . his father left family and country when he was only a baby." A king at five, Michael reigned until Carol returned in 1930. He was made king again at eighteen by Carol's abdication in 1940. Exiled, he married Anne of Bourbon-Parma. They live in Switzerland.
Lunch for six hungry children and frequent guests is a problem. Ileana seldom prepares Romanian dishes—they take too much time. Most utensils are from the five-and-ten. Children used to take turns washing dishes, but Herzi prefers clearing up, Niki washes and Magi dries. Ileana made apple jam last year, recalls delicious Romanian conserve, "so rich a spoonful was dessert," hopes to make cherry jam from own trees. The young archdukes and archduchesses are fond of applesauce covered with crust of brown sugar, but favorite dessert is ice cream.
I Live Again - Part 2
The young Princess Ileana was accorded a lively reception when, in 1926, she visited America with her mother, Queen Marie. In 1950, a refugee, ill with arthritis, she came again to the United States for treatment, carrying with her a sapphire-and-diamond tiara wrapped in her nightgown. In the years between, she had married, and borne six children, lived through war and revolution. When the communists drove her, with husband and children, from Romania, they permitted her to keep the tiara. Safely in the United States, the tiara was sold to pay debts, make the down payment on a home in Newton, Massachusetts. Now she exults in her modern kitchen and the happiness which her children are finding in America.
IF you are to recognize in my story the people and places I am talking about, I must sketch a background for you. I may as well begin by telling you at once: a princess spends very little of her time wearing a diadem! I myself wore the lovely sapphire-and-diamond tiara on only one state occasion. I went to one "court ball" in my life, and that was at my own wedding; but there I wore a much smaller diadem given me by my father-in-law. (It was, however, a very appropriate one for the occasion when the title "Archduchess of Austria" had been added to my name, because the diadem had originally been a present from Napoleon to Marie Louise, who was also an Archduchess of Austria.)
You must understand that while I was growing up, Romania was struggling to catch up with the rest of the civilized world in what proved to be a tragically short period of national independence. It is a tragic but inspiring story which came to a climax in 1859, when Moldavia and Walachia managed to join together. When they decided to call a foreign prince to rule over them, my family enters the story, for they chose my great-uncle, Prince Carl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen—crowned King Carol I of Romania in 1881. The King's nephew Ferdinand, my father, had been born second son of the Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern; but he was chosen as heir apparent of King Carol. At the death of his uncle in 1914 he became King Ferdinand I, and reigned until 1927.
My father, then Crown Prince of Romania, had in 1893 married Marie, born a Princess of Great Britain and Ireland. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria—the eldest daughter of the Queen's second son—and so a first cousin to King George V of England. Since her mother was a Grand Duchess of Russia, sister of Czar Alexander III, my mother was also a first cousin to Czar Nicholas II—whose visit with his family to Romania in 1914 is one of my most vivid childhood memories.
My parents had six children, the eldest of which is my brother Carol, born in 1894, who became King Carol II. He abdicated for the second time in 1940; and his son, King Mihai I, abdicated under duress of the Russian communists on December 30, 1947. The second child of my parents is my sister Elizabeth, who was Queen of Greece until she divorced her husband, the late King George II of Greece. Next comes my sister Marie, whom we call Mignon, who later became Queen of Yugoslavia. Her husband was murdered in Marseille in 1934, leaving three sons, the eldest of whom is King Peter of Yugoslavia, deposed in 1941. My next brother is Nicolas, now living in Switzerland; I was born in 1909; and I had a younger brother Mircea, who died of typhoid during World War I. There are great differences of age between us all—sixteen years, for example, between Carol and me.
Since I was born five years before World War I, my early childhood had been peaceful, but I remember it now only as a dream. For in December, 1916, the Romanian army, with the King and Parliament, were forced by the Germans to evacuate Bucarest and withdraw to Jassy, in Moldavia.
During those two years of difficulty and danger I was not too young to understand what was happening. More than 300,000 refugees were crowded into Jassy, a town of 50,000 people. There was little fuel, and never enough food. I can remember being always hungry, and yet wishing I need never eat; for the limited amount of food we were able to get had little variety, and was often spoiled. Epidemics of typhus and typhoid raged. In the hospitals where my mother and sisters worked I saw two and often three patients in one bed, while many people died in the streets.
MANY of my memories of those two years in Jassy are pleasanter ones. When I was only seven years old I went about with Colonel Anderson, head of the American Red Cross work in Romania; and I took great pride in being his interpreter. The British and American army officers were also very kind to me.
My parents had told me that Father Christmas would not be able to get over the German lines and come to Jassy; and I passed along this information to my British and American friends. They seemed quite shocked. On Christmas Eve I was awakened by confused noises and peeping through my half-closed eyes I saw my officer friends filling a Christmas stocking while my mother watched.
The stocking I explored next morning was one of the strangest collections of gifts an eight-year-old girl ever received. There were two tobacco pouches; a wooden cigarette case; a little gold piece of American money; a small bar of chocolate; a regimental badge (which I still have); tiny British and American flags; and other things I have forgotten. I loved them, in spite of losing my belief in Father Christmas; and I was direful to tell my officers that Father Christmas had come after all!
It was impossible to forget those years in Jassy even when we returned to Bucarest and a more normal family life. I was a loved and happy little girl with many things to enjoy. I still remember how pleased I was with the lovely dress I wore at the coronation in 1922! The next years were ones of work and study, with none of the freedom and gay social occasions which are taken for granted by teen-agers in the United States.
I HAD little unscheduled time. I threw myself enthusiastically into all the youth movements then coming into being, and grew to know intimately the young people of my country. I became a Girl Reserve of the Y.W.C.A. and soon was head of the group in Romania. At school in England for a year, I joined the Girl Guides so that I was able to help set up the Guides for Romanian girls. I became a part-time student at the School for Physical Education in Bucarest, getting up at seven o'clock in the morning for my classes there. I learned to know the peasant, the student and the soldier; the schoolgirl, the factory girl and the daughter of the courtier. I knew the slums and the peaceful convents. I grew up part and parcel of my country, its aspirations and its developments an integral part of my very being. Romania was and is the love of my life, the reason for my existence.
I have said that a princess spends very little of her time wearing a diadem. And yet, although it did not show in any of my pictures, I know now that I actually was wearing a diadem! Only during the most recent years of my life, when I returned to my country in a time of danger and suffering, did I come to realize this. For at every difficult moment I found at my shoulder a friend to help me in my work for my country: the soldier at the station canteen who lifted me quickly to a safe position where I could stand while I distributed food to the crowds of refugees maddened by hunger; the market woman who roused a mob to prevent the kidnapping of my two sons; the official who used devious means to get supplies for my hospital; the peasant who saved my mother's crucifix; all these and many more. It was then that I realized I had indeed been wearing a diadem: the diadem of leadership, given me by the love of my people; a diadem which is my most precious possession, and which can never be lost nor destroyed! This is what it was like—for me—to be a young princess. This is why I became so deeply and eternally a Romanian in my mind and heart.
Even when in 1931 I married Archduke Anton of Austria, and lived abroad for a time, there were reasons why nothing really changed the old allegiance. During the first ten years of our marriage we had six children: Stefan, born in 1932; Marie-Ileana (whom we call Minola), born in 1933; Alexandra (Sandi), born in 1935; Dominic (Niki), in 1937; Maria Magdalene (Magi), born in 1939—one month after the war broke out—and Elisabeth (Herzi), born in 1942. We Romanians are attached to the very soil of our land, and we never can feel the same in any other. So strong was this feeling in me that I had a pottery bowl of Romanian earth under my bed when my children were born, so that they should be born also on Romanian ground!
The force now dominant in the country of my birth ruthlessly destroys those who oppose the new order of things. This force is not against a class, it is against a whole mentality. It stands not for the freedom of the masses, but for their subjugation. I know how bravely my people stood up against this horror; how their spirit rebelled and rebels still. Their endurance is unbelievable; their sufferings cry out to the skies from which as yet no answer comes. They bend to the storm, but my deep conviction is that they will not break. As long as they can remain on their native soil, they will remain true to it!
All this is a far cry from the quiet of my New England kitchen. Let me look back a moment to the last peaceful period of my life; those years in the Castle of Sonnberg. Now the castle stands lifeless, a deserted, empty shell; but let me try to think of it as it was when I first saw it. I would like to tell you something of my life there. Once there was a princess—the story could begin—once there was a princess who lived in a castle!
Anton and I, like many young couples with small children, wished to find a home in the country. Our problems were usual ones, with a few complications. In the first place, Anton was what is called in German "heimatlos," which means, literally, "homelandless." When Emperor Charles of Austria abdicated in 1918, my husband's parents refused to recognize the new government. They and their children were therefore declared heimatlos, and forced to leave the country. Anton's parents took their children to Spain, where they continued to live until the Spanish revolution began, in 1931.
For about a year after our marriage we lived in Munich, in Germany; but the Austrian government finally gave us permission to live in Austria. We leased a house near Vienna, and there our first two children were born—still, however, officially without citizenship. In 1934 Chancellor Dollfuss declared an amnesty for the royalist sympathizers. This restored Anton's citizenship, and gave Austrian citizenship to our two older children. The next two children were born as Austrian citizens; but the seizure of Austria by Hitler in 1938 meant that our last two children were registered as German citizens, and became Austrian only after the defeat of Germany in 1945.
OUR quest for a house in the country ended at the Castle of Sonnberg. Although it was thirty miles from Vienna and it had lapsed into a deplorable condition, we liked it so much that we decided to buy it. We began putting it in order by having it cleaned, and at least twenty cartloads of rubbish and plain, ordinary dirt were hauled away.
Everything took longer than we had expected and we moved into the castle while there were still workmen on the premises, and nothing in order. Our furniture was brought in vans, and our car was loaded with small oddments—including a pony! In the country, of course, one wants a pony for the children. Ours had come from a circus; when I asked the proprietor if he had any ponies to sell, he presented me proudly with a Romanian pony named Medias. I was much pleased with Medias, but he added no little to our transportation problems!
IN Romania and all countries of the Eastern Orthodox Church, no one would think of establishing a household in a house which had not been blessed. The service consists of prayer and readings from the Bible, and includes the story of the first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Then a container of water is blessed, and this water is sprinkled upon all the walls of the house. With this same service my children and I began our new lives in our New England home. I was very happy when at Sonnberg, the repairs finally finished, we were able to have our ceremony of House Blessing on the twenty-first of May—my Saint's Day.
Many things remained to be done in the castle. Central heating had been installed, but this had to be repaired. We converted the coal heater to oil; but we had scarcely time to enjoy it before the war cut off oil supplies, and we had to reconvert to coal. In this, as well as in the maddening struggles to repair and install electricity and plumbing in a castle built before either was thought of, Anton was able to plan for and direct the workmen. An experienced pilot, who not only flew but could repair his own plane, he was a trained engineer, much interested in mechanics.
The castle and the eighteen acres of ground around it were perhaps best described by Anton's sister when she said, "In the center there is a well; around the well stands the castle; around the castle is an island; around the island is a moat; around the moat is a park; and around the park runs a river!"
This is actually quite an accurate description of Sonnberg. The castle had been built in the sixteenth century. Square, and without ornamentation except for its tower, it had rooms arranged around an open courtyard with a well in the center. Originally this location had been swampland, which a little river, dividing and then reuniting, had made an island. Some sixteenth-century knight had seen the possibility of locating a fortified dwelling here by digging a wide circular moat in the center of the marsh, heaping up the dirt to create an "inner island" on which the castle was built. The swampland outside the moat was tiled and drained, and so we lived upon a double island. When one drove through the village and crossed the little river on the castle bridge, the driveway continued across a parkland of woods and meadows to the moat. Here one crossed on a longer bridge, of six arches, where the portcullis had been located; the driveway led to the entrance of the castle, with the tower rising in the center of the front wall.
Tradition says that the castle was originally three stories high, with the tower two stories above that, but that the weight of the building gradually caused it to sink into the "made land" on which it was built. We found it only two stories high with the other floor hardly more than an unusually light and airy basement. The walls are of stone, four feet thick; but while the floors around the inner courtyard were still the original stone, parquetry had been laid over the floors of the rooms.
Houses in Austria are taxed according to the number of rooms, and we were taxed on thirty-five. It enabled me to set aside five rooms for my mother on one side of the "hollow square," but our own household required a good bit of space. There were eight in our family; in addition we had nine servants: cook, kitchenmaid, nursemaid, three housemaids, laundress, housekeeper and chauffeur. At the castle, besides occasional guests, there were always from thirteen to seventeen people living.
Our household was not run at all like a modern American establishment, which can have laborsaving devices and convenient stores and services. Our laundry was done by hand; and washing and ironing were enough to keep a full-time laundress busy. Much of our food was produced on our own place, and we had about a hundred chickens, ducks, pigs, seven sheep, a cow and bees, all of which paid their way in an entirely practical manner. The farmer, the housekeeper and I sheared the sheep; after the wool was washed I spun it into yarn—using a distaff, since I have never learned to use a spinning wheel. This yarn was then knit into jerseys, socks and other articles of clothing for the household. I did much of this knitting, and also most of the children's sewing. We raised potatoes, wheat and corn on our own land, besides the usual green vegetables and fruit.
In addition to these everyday duties, I found time for the gardening, painting and sculpture which I so loved. I wanted to make the highest tower room into a chapel; and designed cut-stone insets for the eight windows: iris, rose, lily, delphinium, tulip, thistle, hyacinth and water had got as far as cutting out the designs in wood with a jigsaw in Anton's workshop, and having them copied in stone by a workman in Romania, when the war came.
I loved those eight panels. I wonder if they were overlooked when our lovely Renaissance furniture was broken and burned, our glass and china smashed on the flagstones of the courtyard; when the portrait of my mother, painted by de Laszlo, was ripped to pieces; when all our treasures except those few hidden by horrified servants were looted or wantonly destroyed by the Russian soldiers. I did not return to Austria after the war to see the empty shell which had been our beautiful home, and perhaps this makes it easier for me to go back now in memory to 1935, and '36, and '37, when in spite of threatening war clouds life seemed peaceful.
Besides the care of our growing family and my necessary occupations for the household, I found much to do in the village. My children's nurse and I started a small dispensary for infants and children. When a trained nurse was required at the homes of the needy, I arranged my other work so that I could take that duty as long as it was necessary. During the six winter months I established and managed a canteen to provide food for the poorer school children. I happened also to discover a small and struggling troop of Girl Scouts in Vienna, and began working with them.
IN the evenings I found time for reading while my husband busied himself with his short-wave transmitter and receiver. We seldom went into Vienna, since we found our home satisfying. In summer we took our children to the Worthersee, a beautiful lake in Kernten. Across the lake there were only the Karawanken Mountains between us and the home of my sister Mignon, Queen of Yugoslavia. With Anton's plane we were not bound to roads. Sometimes we flew to England; always we spent a few weeks of every year in Romania; but our great events were the visits of my mother, and she found it pleasant to spend a month or two with us now and then.
We adored having her with us, and since she brought her own staff, her visits lightened my work a great deal—something I was especially grateful for because I did not recover quickly from the births of my children. She put me at my ease by reminding me laughingly that she, too, as a young housekeeper had urged her father to bring his cook along when he visited her.
My mother's presence radiated life and light. I cannot find words to tell what she was or what she meant to me; that would in itself make a book. Everyone loved her. Everything was nicer when she was there—even the village children's faces took on a new look, for she was always interested in each one. I remember that one year for Christmas she crocheted a little cap in bright colors for each child.
But these peaceful years ended in 1938, when Austria was engulfed by Nazi Germany. For me the anxieties of this time were at first submerged in a more personal grief, the death of my mother. I remember so well the death of her own mother, and how she said to me, "It is a terrible thing to be no. body's child!" I was a little girl then, and l puzzled over what she had said. But in 193 I discovered that with father and mother gone, there is still life to be lived, but there is no longer the loyal and loving security upon which one relies, often without conscious understanding and appreciation of how much it means. In castle and in village alike—"It is a terrible thing to be nobody's child!"
HERE in my New England home the winters are very much like those in Romania. On chilly nights I sometimes put across my bed an odd sort of blanket. It is an evening wrap made by Revillion in Paris: a full-length cape of ermine bordered with red fox. Beautiful as it is, it has never been worn as an evening wrap.
I have this cape when so much which would be of more use to me has been lost. It had been sent for summer storage in Vienna—just before I left Austria for what I did not then know was the last time—to a furrier whose premises did not happen to be sacked and looted by the Russians, and four years later he sent it to me in Switzerland. I feel a bittersweet happiness when it brings me warmth on a frosty night. I have so often seen it thrown over my mother's bed as an extra covering, and I remember so well—
IN 1936 my mother spent Christmas with us in Sonnberg, and we had our usual happy family festivities, shared with the village. In the Catholic and Orthodox countries of Europe, Christmas is celebrated a little differently than it is in the United States. In. Austria, Saint Nicholas comes on the fifth of December. He brings with him Knecht Ruprecht to punish any naughty children the good saint may find. Knecht Ruprecht is dressed in dark, furry clothes, he has a tail, and is loaded with chains which he rattles fearsomely. Since I never wanted the children frightened, our "Knecht Ruprecht" was represented only by a rattling of chains outside; and he was at once dismissed by Saint Nicholas because there were no naughty children present! Gifts are left later that night by the saint. On the twenty-fifth of December, Christmas is observed as a solemn church festival; although a Christmas tree—supposed to have been brought by the Christ child—is lighted in every home, and carols are sung by the family.
I do not think my pleasure in that Christmas of 1936 could have been more deeply felt had I known it was the last Christmas we could spend with my mother, and that within those holidays I must find and store up my last treasured pictures of her when she was still strong and gay. My pleasure was spoiled only by my resolve to keep my mother from knowing that I was pregnant, for I knew she would worry at the prospect of my having another baby so soon when the other three births had been such difficult ones. I managed it somehow, and she left without knowing that in July she would have another grandchild. One of the most vivid memories I have of that holiday season is the picture of the graceful figure of my mother gliding over the ice; she was an accomplished skater, and the moat at Sonnberg provided a wonderful skating rink.
In the spring of 1937 she had the first indication of the illness to which her death over a year later was ascribed. Because of a strained family and political situation, I was at first not allowed to go to Bucarest to see her; but in April I was permitted to spend a week there. She continued to improve slowly until she could be moved to the castle at Sinaia; and when Dominic—Niki—was born on July fourth she was able to come briefly to the telephone.
When Niki was a month old, we went as usual to the Worthersee for the summer. However, I remained anxious about my mother. I continued my urgent requests to be permitted to come to Romania to see her, and during the last of September we were allowed to join her at the Castle of Bran. She had another hemorrhage in October, and had to be moved to Bucarest. There she seemed to be recovering gradually, and we celebrated her sixty-second birthday with her on October twenty-ninth. It was during those weeks that she saw a picture of the ermine cloak in a Paris fashion magazine, and said sadly, "How I would love to have this if I were well! But I shall never wear anything of this kind again."
I decided that she should have it; perhaps t would supply a little impetus to her fight 'or health if she felt I expected her to grow well again and wear an evening wrap. I ordered it for her Christmas gift before we left Romania for Sonnberg in November and it arrived to give her surprise and pleasure—a pleasure marred because she was not well enough to come to us at Christmas, and I was not permitted to spend Christmas with her in Romania.
Not until February of 1938 could I see her again, when she was well enough to be taken to the Italian Tyrol. I joined her, and there first saw the ermine cloak thrown across her bed as a robe, for there was no possibility of her wearing it as I had hoped. Her condition was not only the result of illness but of the anxiety and strain in the family which she saw only too clearly was affecting her beloved Romania. My constant worry about her prevented my following the mounting Austrian crisis as closely as I would otherwise have done. It was therefore with deep shock that I heard over the radio on March twelfth the news that Nazi troops had crossed the Austrian border.
My children at once took precedence over everything else, in my mother's mind as well as in my own; and she sent me to Innsbruck, where I took the first train for Vienna. As we drove through the Brenner Pass, I first saw the reality of what I had been hearing, for the Austrian coats of arms had been torn down from the customs house, and thrown on the ground.
The journey, which normally would have occupied nearly the whole day, took even longer because the train was stopped and entered by bands of hoodlums. They would demand that the conductor show them the passports of all the passengers, and I realized that the name "Habsburg" on my passport would win instant and unfavorable attention. Before I had much time to worry I received a reassuring look from the conductor—he would help me. When he was showing the passports he managed to shuffle them in such a way that mine was never seen. It was a kindness for which I could not thank him for fear of endangering him, since already I began to realize how conditions were.
If I had not realized this before, I would have done so in Vienna where Anton met me when the train finally arrived. That morning fifty men of the S. A. had arrived at the castle to prevent any Habsburg from trying to interfere with the glorious entrance of Austria into the Reich. For ten days these men slept in our house and barns, followed us about suspiciously, and—unfamiliar with the firearms they carried—they were a menace to the safety of themselves and everyone around them. Hastily armed and irresponsible groups like this made everyone afraid to seem "un-co-operative" with our self-appointed "liberators," and life became difficult in both small and large ways.
That first evening, for example, when I telephoned my mother there was considerable confusion because the operators insisted that we talk German instead of the English we had always used. This confused and worried my mother, who must have complained about it to someone. At any rate, many weeks later Hitler's A.D.C. was sent around with a tremendous ring of orchids, and Hitler's humble apologies that a "foreign queen" should have been forced to speak German in order to telephone her daughter.
At Sonnberg, in addition to the constant strain and anxiety caused by our "guests," we were subjected to three or four "house searchings," each time by a different group of men from the black-shirted Storm Troopers, or the Gestapo.
ROOM by room, the SS men would search the castle, turning out drawers and closets and throwing their contents on the floor, to be put in order later—if the household passed the inspection and the householder remained in residence! We were told that they were looking particularly for indications of lack of confidence in the Reich—shown by our sending money or property abroad.
The technique of meeting the house searchings, I found, was to remain calm and friendly; to assume that the men were doing their duty; to continue one's normal activities; to make no sudden movement, even to save some precious thing from destruction; to keep one's hands quiet and relaxed; to answer questions easily and frankly. My life of discipline stood me in good stead here; for the leader of the last group not only told me that we would have no more of such invasions, but he added, if all princesses were like you, how pleasant it would be!"—a compliment I received with mixed emotions!
LATE that spring my mother was moved to a sanatorium in Dresden, Germany; and I was able to get permission to leave Sonnberg to see her. I had my last glimpse of my mother when I turned to wave good-by as we left the sanatorium, and from her bed at the window she lifted her hand once in farewell. Still very ill, she was taken back to Romania in early July, and from there I received my last message from her directly—a telegram ending "God bless you all!" One of my greatest griefs had been that, although I was a nurse, I was not permitted to assist in caring for her. Anxious and unhappy because of this, and not reassured by messages she sent me through other people, I postponed our usual summer trip to the Worthersee; and on July eighteenth I received a telephone call that my mother was dying.
Perhaps you have at some time received exactly that same message; but in the United States you cannot imagine being unable to respond to it—yet that was my situation. Austria had been taken over by Germany, and our Austrian passports were worthless. We could not only not leave the new "Reich" without a German passport, but it would be hopeless to attempt to cross the Hungarian frontier without one. With the power of desperation I started the wheels moving; it was through the kindness of many individuals who recognized my grief, and from sheer human kindness dared to deviate from the official pattern, that passports for Anton and me were issued within an hour.
I still remember the last frantic mishap. The Hungarian consulate in Vienna had been notified that we would be coming for a visa on our new passports, and they were kindness itself in agreeing to wait. Inside the consulate sat an officer ready to give us our visa—but at the door of the consulate stood a porter who refused to let us in.
"The consulate is closed!" he announced firmly, and shut the door in our faces.
I felt for a moment that insanity of despair which is the special cross of the oppressed and the downtrodden. Then, rallying my forces, I pressed the doorbell again, until the porter in a towering rage opened the door a crack to threaten me. I thrust my foot and my arm into the crack and said with passionate determination, "But I shall go in!" And on this wave of determination I was indeed inside, with neither the porter nor I knowing exactly why he had given way; in a short time I had the Hungarian visas.
With no further news, Anton and I set out for a nineteen-hour drive across Austria, Hungary and Romania. In the early morning, at the Romanian frontier, I asked the guards if they had any word from the palace, but they said no—no word. When I returned ten days later they begged my forgiveness:
"But we could not bear to be the ones to tell you of the Queen's death, Domnitza!"
Yet on that first morning I think I knew n my heart what had happened, even though I refused to acknowledge it to myself until we saw the flags all flying at half mast. My mother had died at five o'clock the day before—while I was still desperately struggling to come to her. She left me, among other outward symbols of an inner love and understanding which are rare even between mother and daughters, the fairy castle of Bran, the sapphire-and-diamond tiara which has enabled me to begin a new life for my children, and an ermine evening wrap which lies across my bed on frosty nights.