Michaela Merz

The story of Leon (Lev) Roznanski

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHis parents were from Russia. Leon was born in Romania and as they were a very wealthy family, Leon learnt German from his German speaking nanny. During the Second World War the family had to flee to England and on top of his three languages Leon also learnt English.

But Leon did not stay in England, after the end of the war he moved on to Israel and learnt Hebrew. His work led him to Brazil, where he met his later wife and stayed for the rest of his life. After that his life continued less spectacular but his steady success brought prosperity. In advanced years he developed Alzheimer’s disease and his wife cared for him, which was not an easy task because Leon was ungrateful, full of mistrust and accusations, as Alzheimer’s patients often are. Rosa accepted all of this. Until one day she came home from a long walk and everything valuable was gone. Leon proudly announced that he had hidden it but could not tell where.

Then Leon came to a nursery home. He talked a lot and despite his accent his Portuguese was well understandable. Until one day he stopped speaking Portuguese. The language had disappeared. From then on Leon only spoke Hebrew, which cause quite some difficulties because most of the nursery home staff only spoke Portuguese. But one day Leon stopped talking Hebrew and started speaking English. This was only a short intermezzo because within days he replaced English by German. When he started speaking Romanian some time later, nobody in the nursery home could understand him anymore. But that was still not the end of the journey, the last language Leon used was Russian. Just as he had learnt the languages, he unlearnt them.

At the end Leon did not speak any language and it did not seem that he understood any language. He died silently but the expression on his face told that he had found his inner peace.

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