My mother Karin was born in war torn Austria in 1939.

The trauma of a childhood lost during a war is what inspired her to devote her own life to creating and fostering the childhood’s of her many dance students.

Growing up, my mother told us of the war almost every night. She had this odd relationship with memory: there was so much she wanted to forget, yet couldn’t. She felt compelled to pass down these stories to us as part of her legacy. It’s both telling and ironic that we lost her to Dementia-related complications.

On a recent diversion to Amazon.com, I came upon her step-father’s book, entitled: Okamoto’s Vienna- The City Since the Fifties

Yoichi Okamoto came to Vienna as an American lieutenant at the end of World War II. There he was commissioned as personal photographer to general Mark Clark, the High Commissioner in Austria. He was responsible for all photographs that were published in the American occupation zone. In 1954 he was recalled to the US, and appointed head of the Pictorial branch of the US Information Industry. He later served as official and personal photographer to the president and ‘recorded history’ until the end of the Johnson administration.

Browsing through the book, I can now put images to my mother’s stories; albeit, Okamoto’s Vienna is not one of apocalypse, but rather one of reconstruction.

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