Let me tell you the story of my friend, Anton Zwiebel.

You will soon realize that any story about Anton Zwiebel is also a story about me, Gustav Perle. In fact, I can’t imagine how I could set down any account of Anton Zwiebel’s life that didn’t include me. I am at the heart of Anton Zwiebel’s life and he is at the heart of mine.

We were both born in 1942, during the Second World War, but we were born in Switzerland, where the war didn’t trespass. A little later, in 1947, when we attended kindergarten in Zorin, the village where we lived, we began learning about the war and how, beyond our country, there was this other, destroyed world, which the teachers found it difficult to talk about. We were shown pictures of ruined cities. I recall that in one of these pictures a white dog was sitting all alone among the rubble, and the sight of this abandoned dog made me feel lonely, as though I, and not the dog, were the creature sitting there.

Did you know that the word Zwiebel means onion?…