Thursday, February 09, 2012

Gem of the Day

On page 551 of the textbook Geschichte ├ľsterreichs (published 1970) one learns that:

"The Second World War belongs to world history, but not to Austrian history. It was not an Austrian war. Austria did not participate in it."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reading through JTA articles...

...and found this, Figl's December 1945 defense of his appointment of known antisemite Leopold Kunschak as president of the National Assembly:

"In an attempt to explain his appointment of Kunschak to such an important post, Figl said that Kunschak 'is not anti-Semitic on racial grounds, but on economic grounds,' adding that Kunschak is 'an old man and has some fixed ideas.'"

No comment necessary, I think.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Song on the End of the World

by Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A Fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through fields under their umbrellas
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.
Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet,
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world there will be,
No other end of the world there will be. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Note to the next jackass I have to talk to in a bar

After telling you that in the last 15 years I have worked for the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and HIAS, and then after explained that my upcoming PhD will be in Holocaust history, that I am writing a dissertation about Jews in Austria, and that my professional expertise is working with Holocaust survivors and their families -- let's agree that we can continue conversing with the assumption that I most likely have considered the scourge of antisemitism and understand it's a worldwide and centuries-long phenomenon.

Believe it or not, you have not just introduced me to the topic.

People are stupid.

Had to share!

This was a sign outside of an Allied (either British or American, obviously) army base in Austria along the road through the Russian zone to Vienna. It was probably a joke, but it really existed. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quote of yesterday!

I enjoyed this little gem, found while reading over analysis of various Austrian press in the very early 1950s. An article written by the editor in chief of the Salzburger Nachrichten in April 1951 defends violence used against Jewish demonstrators protesting a film showed at a Salzburg movie house. [The film, “Immortal Sweetheart,” was produced by Veit Harlan, who also produced the infamous “Jued Suess.”]

His article portrayed the Jewish protesters as dupes from the nearby DP camp, controlled by Communist organizers. He said,

“It is not good for the Jewry that they appeared in company of the Communists. Of course the inhabitants of Salzburg must learn to understand that people living in camps are likely to be demoralized. The camps are a calamity, but we Austrians are not responsible.”

Quote of the day

Reading an article about Jewish Vienna, the author describes meeting a Georgian-Jewish shop owner in the 1. District. The man explained that he's active at more than one synagogue in Vienna, and also stated that he had been reluctant to stray from his Orthodox roots, but:

"...just last week, he ventured into a Conservative synagogue. 'And you know what?' he exclaimed, 'I liked sitting next to my wife.'”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The complexity of my dissertation topic - in a nutshell

I recently met one of the most impressive and energetic women I've come across in all my years of working with Holocaust survivors. She is 92, lives alone, seems to be in great health, and is mentally quick and alert. She organizes weekly museum outings and social gatherings for friends, reads multiple papers, watches all the world news, and is on top of it all in a way I could never hope to be. She moves around the city, engaging and experiencing. I hope I am like her in some small way when I am that age. Hell, I hope I am like her NOW!

I won't use her name, but it's important to know that she returned to Vienna after the war from London as a communist, coming to take part in rebuilding a democratic Austria. I interviewed her last week and when I asked her, after 4 hours of very deep and in-depth discussion, to boil it down and answer the main, big, simple, break-it-down question - WHY DID YOU RETURN TO LIVE IN VIENNA? - she said:

"Why did we return? Because we were naive. We thought they wanted us, needed us. HA!"

I asked her if she'd ever thought of leaving and going back to England or to the US where she has family. "Not at all."

So, there it is, folks. Survivors came back to a place that did not welcome them nor expect them to return. They were slapped in the face with this reality very quickly upon arrival...but they'd never think of living anywhere else. And that is what I have to explain.

Oy vey.

Getting a little darker?

I've been thinking lately about sharing some of the things I am finding in my dissertation research because: (a) I want to scream to the world, "what the fuck?!" (sorry, Mom) when I read some of it, and (b) it helps to process. People also seem to be interested in some of it, so why not? You don't HAVE to look at my blog.

So, my dear 2 readers...I may intersperse horrific archival findings with my fun/funny stuff, too. If you know me, then you know that maybe this can work, too!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010