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The Fifth Column: November 2013

The Fifth Column: November 2013

1914 – 1918:  Spreading the Blame “I’m not saying it’s your fault,” goes a common managerial expression. “I’m saying we’re going to blame you.” In this pre-August 1914 anniversary year, historic shifts-of-responsibility are coming under fresh scrutiny. One is the idea that the old softie Emperor Franz-Josef was reluctant when he uttered the ominous words: […]

The Fifth Column: October 2013

The Fifth Column: October 2013

Lost Tribe of Spooks With all the spooks lurking about in Vienna, it seems possible a batch of them, a Lost Tribe, may have escaped into the wilds of the leafy 18th District. So when the U.S. Embassy suddenly closed the aerial-festooned villa at Pötzleinsdorfer Straße 126–128, it naturally raised a few eyebrows. It was […]

The Fifth Column: September 2013

The Fifth Column: September 2013

Now it Can be Told Margaret Thatcher is safely in another place now, but only a sour-puss would deny the late British prime minister made an impression on everyone she met, one way or another. Austria’s then Chancellor Franz Vranitzky found himself in Moscow in 1988 to broach the delicate issue of whether or not Austria […]

The Fifth Column: July 2013

The Fifth Column: July 2013

High Tide for Harel?  A chiaroscuro drama is unfolding behind the scenes of the Hundertwasser exhibition (Japan and the Avant-garde), just ended with a jolly champagne breakfast in the grounds of the Belvedere. It is now clear that the much-loved Austrian eccentric, known for his ascetic lifestyle, was in fact worth a fortune. Along with […]

The Fifth Column: June 2013

The Fifth Column: June 2013

Soft Treat in Safe Hands? Good news, maybe, that a company owned by Julius Meinl V has at the last minute stumped up €5million to buy up the bankrupt, century-old family company Niemetz. Its troubles, and the fire-sale of its factory, struck at the heart of Austrian identity; in particular its chocolate, coconut-covered Schwedenbombe (“Sweden […]

The Fifth Column: May 2013

The Fifth Column: May 2013

Zoo Story Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, Schönbrunn is the oldest zoo in the world, influencing fashion and even literature (Giraffen in Wien, 1828), and providing exotic emergency rations for a starving city during the First World War. After Schönbrunn was privatised in the early 1990s the zoo was radically sorted out by […]

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