The PowerPoint Presentation for Virtual and In-Person Events: Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother’s Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind

Below is content from the presentation that I use for public speaking events.

Eva's Austrian Poesie book

After my mother Eve died, I found her Poesiealbum, a keepsake book, in the back of a drawer. There are archives full of these books, often the only personal item a child could bring from home.

After my mother Eve died, I found her Poesiealbum, a keepsake book, in the back of a drawer. There are archives full of these books, often the only personal item a child could bring from home.

In this book my mother was called Eva. The book felt like a challenge, as if she’d left me clues to follow.

Adolf Eisenmann And Son Invoice

My grandparents Julius Singer (born 1875) and Anna Nichtern (born 1892) grew up in Vienna. My grandfather fought in the First World War.

Julius joined Adolf Eisenmann & Sohn, a company that produced paper goods for the pharmaceutical industry. Left: an invoice from November 1930, showing the residential building where my mother’s family lived and an exaggerated version of the factory located in the rear courtyard. Note the use of imperial seals, still in use years after the end of World War I.

An ad for paper fans made by Adolf Eisenmann & Sohn

The company produced soap wrappers and bags, and this “paper fan” made of individually folded and glued sheets of paper. Powdered medicine was inserted into each pouch.

A pharmacist filling a paper fan with powdered medicine

Paper fan for filling with powdered medicines pulverkapseln

A pharmacist used a ball syringe to puff open each pouch and then inserted the powdered dose using a small scoop. Even after pills were developed, this item was still in common use.

My mother told us that this paper fan, or pulverkapseln, saved her father from deportation. After the Germans seized his business in 1938, they still needed his expertise to operate and maintain the machine that fabricated the pulverkapseln.

Julie Metz's grandmother Anna dressed for a costume ball in Vienna

Vienna was a vibrant cultural center for music, art, literature, and science. There was also a hint of the decadent.
Left and below (second from right): my grandmother Anna on her way to one of many winter costume balls held in Vienna, sometime before 1920. The men might be her brothers.

my grandmother Anna and her brothers on her way to a costume ball, sometime before 1920

Julius, lower right, with his best friend Hohe Wand

Like many in Austria, Julius was an avid mountain hiker.
Left: May, 1928, Julius (lower right) with his best friend, in the Hohe Wand, a mountainous area outside Vienna.
Below: Anna’s 1938 Membership card for Alpenverein Donauland,  the Jewish Mountaineering Club

Jewish Mountaineering Club membership cards 1938

My grandparents married around 1920. Their first child Fritz was born in 1921, followed by Dolfi and my mother Eva in 1928

Eva as a toddler

Eva as a toddler

Eva with her older brothers sometime in the mid 1930s

In January 1938, a family member took this portrait of Eva.
No one could have imagined what would happen in Austria just two months later when the Hitler and his German Nazi troops marched into Vienna. The Anschluss, or “union” of German-speaking people that began on March 11, 1938, dissolved the independent country of Austria.

The lives of Vienna’s Jews changed overnight. They were no longer citizens with civil liberties. The only solution was to leave the country, but the bureaucracy implemented by Adolf Eichmann made emigration difficult, degrading,  and costly.

A spread from Eva’s Poesiealbum, her keepsake book, from January 12, 1939.
By this time the Anschluss had upended their lives. They had lost their passports, citizenship, business, and savings.

In July, 1939, Julius and Anna were able to secure German passports.
It would be another seven months before they could secure visas to the United States.

Donald Winchester Brown, a young Vice Consul at the American Consulate in Vienna, issued life-saving visas for my grandparents and their daughter Eva.

This allowed the family to leave for Italy in late March 1940. From there they traveled
to New York by ship.

Brown was the son of a wealthy family in New York City. He helped a number of Jewish families leave Vienna in a time of crisis, and he was also an avid mountain climber, which may have made a difference for my family.

On April 4, 1940, Eva and her parents sailed from Trieste on the ship Saturnia.
Above: Saturnia passing through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Saturnia arriving in New York City.

The Singer family left home with two trunks. Julius packed his camping utensils and a compass. Anna hid several pieces of jewelry wrapped in linens, the family menorah and Elijah’s Passover Cup. She also packed up the family photo album. Eva brought her Poesiealblum.

My mother and her parents, new immigrants, at the Ford Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York City in late summer or early autumn of 1940.

Eve visiting relatives in Florida.

As an American citizen, Eva changed her name to Eve. In 1947, she met my father, Frank (below left), a veteran of the world war that had just ended two years earlier.

Full circle: Eve at Simon & Schuster (here, during the 1960s), where she worked for over three decades as designer, then art director for trade book interiors.

"Eva and Eve" book cover art

For more information about Eva and Eve, including upcoming author events, and past interviews please visit and connect at:
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Atria publicity: Falon Kirby

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