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The book begins: I am a soldier's daughter. I was born, you know, the child of an Austrian army officer. My father was a lieutenant at that time. My mother was raised (and I, too, as is usual in the family of Austrian officers) in an Italian convent. She was most highly educated, my mother, and the education she then had no longer exists. Why, she spoke beautifully Italian, French, German, Dutch and even Latin - and had the most wonderful contralto voice you can imagine.