On the Rope

Erich Hackl / Translated by Stephen Brown

‘[A] moving, gripping account of survival’
Irish Times

‘This captivating story continues to work in me, a convincing appeal for humanity and solidarity’ 
Doron Rabinovici

‘A story filled with compassion, bravery, and heroism.’
Journal of Austrian Studies




‘Erich Hackl’s On the Rope is a compelling story of unheralded courage and survival. With prose stripped to the bone, it reminds us that humanity in the middle of great inhumanity is still a possibility’ 
Andrew Williams, author of A Passing Fury

‘The way in which Hackl takes this moving true story of one man’s heroic act to hide the Jewish wife and daughter of his friend from the Nazis and ties it to the culture and social context of mountaineering is beautifully done.  It shows, in a chilling and gripping manner, how even over the moral abyss of wartime Vienna the links of friendship and camaraderie inspired–and also enabled–a man like Reinhold Duschka to perform his act of grace, and not to fall’ 
Steven Beller, author of A Concise History of Austria

‘It’s not historic factuality that Hackl is after … his definition of truth looks different. His text is truthful, it captures what stories people tell him and how they tell them to him.’ 
Samuel Moser, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

On the Rope recounts a fascinating true story and I found it wholly engrossing.’
Paul Kane Blog


If something happened to him, they were lost.

What does it take to tie your fate to that of another?

Reinhold Duschka is the unassuming, taciturn hero of this story. A craftsman and climber, he risks everything to save a Jewish mother and her daughter, Lucia, from capture in wartime Vienna.

Based on Lucia’s memories and interspersed with her testimony, On the Rope is a gripping true story and a subtle portrait of goodness. It reminds us how ordinary flawed people can show extraordinary courage.

ERICH HACKL, born in Steyr, Austria, studied German ans Spanish and worked as a teacher and editor for several years. He now works in Madrid and Vienna as a writer and translator. Based on true events, his book includes Aurora’s Motive and Farewell Sidonia, which feature on school curricula. Hackl has received numerous awards.

STEPHEN BROWN is a playwright, translator, and cultural critic.



Read Lucia Heilman’s interview with Eva Ribarits for here

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