Autobiographical Essays

Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD (1910 - 1995)

An Innocent Love Story

The other day I read in The New York Times that a prince Romanov was  entombed with the old pomp in St. Petersburg, but I am sure that he could not have been my prince Romanov.

In the I last year at the gymnasium, when I was eighteen, my class consisted of only eight girls. With our teacher we decided to take a one--week excursion to south Germany. We had studied Baroque and Rococo architecture, which is abundant along the Danube River. We took a train to Regensburg, where we visited the magnificent baroque cathedral; from there we traveled to Ulm, with its impressive church, and on the way there we must have seen other architecture, but I do not recall them. In Ulm, we took the boat up the Danube to Vienna. In my opinion this boat trip is far superior to the well-know Rhine river excursion. Unspoiled old villages over 800 years old still stand along its border. We four friends had sat down at a table and let the landscape flow by us. At the next table there were three elderly men, at least to us they seemed elderly, but they were probably no older than forty. Soon they began to talk to us.  They seem to have been business men on a holiday trip. One  impressed me very much; he was tall, dark, and handsome, with graying sideburns. The men introduced themselves; the good-looking man identified himself as Prince Romanov. (I have forgotten his first name.) They introduced themselves to our teacher and asked whether they could take us out for dinner the following evening. She consented, but only under the condition that we return to our hotel by ten. The next evening we got dressed up and were taken to a well-known wine cellar. I remember very little about the evening, but that we ate, drank, danced, and sang to the music.  I was enthralled by “my prince,” never having been entertained by such a distinguished-looking man. At one point he turned to me and said something in Russian and made me repeat the words. I asked him to  translate: he said, "I love you." For many years I remembered these Russian words, but I never again had the opportunity to  repeat them and eventually I forgot them. At ten o'clock sharp we were back in the hotel. The men promised to meet us the next morning in the Prater, the famous amusement park of Vienna. Although it was a dark drizzly day my prince showed up, but the other two men sent their apologies. The Prince and I took a ride on the famous large ferris wheel, with its hanging cabins, and as we got to the top, he showed me the famous landmarks of Vienna, and then he kissed me! After we landed, we took one a train that runs through a dark scary tunnel. He held me and kissed me, and when we emerged I saw to my consternation that my teacher had been sitting right behind us, but she smiled at me. This is all that I remember about our visit to Vienna, though we must have visited the famous cathedral and numerous museums. The following day we left. By then I had learned that “my prince” was the manager of a bank. I went into the building and said good-bye.  

We wrote to each other once or twice, and then I got a postcard written by someone who informed me that he had been in a car accident and was in hospital. He begged  me to write to him, but I never did. In fact, I never thought of him again even when I visited Vienna several times after World War II. Somewhere in my brain this little affair had been buried and only the short notice in The New York Times uncovered this little adventure. Today I do not know any more what is  truth and what is fantasy,1 but I do know that once upon a time a Romanov had said "I love you."


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