It seemed strange when you thought about it. But people didn’t know the whole story: that Pauline, Frederick, and Herr Lippert did resist fascism but in ways that assured their survival. They may have lacked loyalty to the “Austrian nation,” but Pauline remained committed to helping people. And she had quite another idea about the future of the country. As long as private armies were roaming around and separate camps were fighting each other, she couldn’t see how it could survive. So she and Fritz agreed to send the boys with Eva to their grandfather’s estate, and no one knew how long they’d have to stay, even though they could see that the war wouldn’t last long.
Both sides were armed, initially only with rifles and grenades, and the socialist held fortified positions in their huge housing projects. But the Austrian military turned against the socialist fighters with the use of light artillery and easily overpowered them. Their surrender came after many of the apartments were destroyed. Rather than risk the lives of thousands of civilians, they gave up, or they sacrificed themselves instead of having everything they built destroyed. Maybe it was hopeless from the start. It was definitely hopeless after chancellor Dollfess ordered the shelling. Several hundred people (including paramilitaries, members of the security forces and civilians) died. Over 1,500 were arrested. The authorities then tried and executed nine socialist leaders under provisions of martial law. Many others were forced into exile. Then the Socialist Democratic Party and its affiliated trade unions were banned completely.
It terrified Pauline. And she became paralyzed. She wouldn’t go out, nothing interest her, and some days she never left her bed. But soon it became apparent to her that she had to defy Fritz and admit that cowering wasn’t helping her. She had grown resentful and had to get out of the home.
Pauline knew that she and Fritz couldn’t go back to the way they were before the war. She said, when they began to talk about these things, “I know that I’ve made mistakes.” But there was more to it than that. As she explained, “I suppose when you were away you thought that I’d wait for you, I mean, you thought that I wouldn’t change. But I’m human. I was never your typical bride, and I’ve always been adventurous. The more I tasted it (adventure), the more I had to have, and the more I had…we can’t go back. But I’m no longer angry. I know that I’m partially at fault. I hated staying home. I remember how bored I was and how the boys would get on my nerves. I was really thankful for your parents and of course for Eva. As I turned my responsibilities over to them (your parents and Eva), I know that your parents didn’t approve. I know it made them very unhappy. And when I went out, I was only thinking of myself. I used to think, ‘These people don’t know me. They don’t want me to have a life, and they don’t understand.’”
It got where she didn’t see her boys for weeks. They lived in their grandparents’ house, with Eva looking after them and with her living there too. And all that time no one outside of the family knew that anything was wrong. There was so much chaos around them that they got used to it. Normal was no longer normal. Because there was such a shortage of men, it wasn’t unusual to see women working outside of the home. But something else happened here: Pauline started picking up men, soldiers on leave from the front, lonely men who matched her need for intimacy. This went on and on. It wasn’t unusual. Pauline then wasn’t as careful as she should’ve been. And blamed herself when she got pregnant. The abortion hurt. That was when she hadn’t heard from Fritz and thought he might’ve been killed. So many men were. She had written him, while he never wrote her back.
Pauline now went back to work at the Obdachlosenhein. They needed her more than ever. It felt good to feel needed. It became time for Pauline and Fritz to live separate lives, but it didn’t happen. And it didn’t seem like they had learned anything.
It wasn’t long before she started seeing Frederick and Herr Lippert again. All three of them fell back into the same traps. And it took a fair amount out of them. More out of Pauline than the men. She had to negotiate with each one of them and successfully did up to a point. There was no question that she was taking a chance. One of them or all of them could’ve gotten fed up with her. It was as if she enjoyed the tension, and there was always tension between them. That was when she had to go off by herself and often sought peace and solitude in her beloved woods. Without a doubt she’d seen happier times.
She made sure that Fritz knew that she’d leave him if he wanted her to.
She still loved Fritz. She told him so. Then she said, “I wish I knew what I was doing.” She may have been naïve, but she always had a backup plan. There were times when one of them would explode, and she felt helpless. But this feeling of helplessness never lasted long. And she knew they all loved her. She never doubted it. She only doubted herself. Then she’d say, “They don’t have to put up with me.” And that was where she’d leave it. Fritz was important to her because of her sons. Frederick came before Herr Lippert. And Herr Lippert…well, she liked being with him. But she could’ve dropped anyone of them, though it wouldn’t have been easy. So she stayed with all three of them. Remember this was Vienna. And the conservatives may have won a victory. But not total victory yet. And perhaps they were living on borrowed time.