Antwerp hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics . During World War II , the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division on 4 September 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp , which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. Thousands of Rheinbote , V-1 and V-2 missiles were fired (more V-2s than used on all other targets during the entire war combined), causing severe damage to the city but failed to destroy the port due to poor accuracy. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizeable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European centre of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic ) Orthodox Judaism .
Elisabeth, who brought her father Viktor to live with her and her Dutch husband Henk in Kent, settled for the trappings of a conventional English life while keeping a small, Viennese-Jewish flame flickering inside her. Her interfaith funeral was in a way emblematic of her grandson’s achievement in writing this book. Armed with an exacting curiosity, he weaves together with great delicacy various strands of the lives of a glamorous dynasty. Whichever time or place he is writing about, he is attuned to its atmosphere, whether it flows from the surprising beauty of Odessa or the sudden manner in which both war and empire thundered to a halt in 1918 Vienna.
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