Letters to the Editor: Sep. 2012

The Vienna Review welcomes letters from its readers. Contact us at editor@viennareview.net

To the Editor

Thank you so much for Valerie Crawford’s excellent review, “Gone: An American Vanishes in Vienna” [TVR, July-Aug. 2012, a documentary on the disappearance of Aeryn Gilleran]. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts.

With your article, the screenings of the film and the ORF2 story about Aeryn’s disappearance [“Ein Fall für Resetarits”, 6 July], I am hopeful that someone will come forward with more information as to what happened that night. If nothing else, I pray that the police are pressured to provide better training for their officers, take a closer look at their selection process, and instead of closing down, take complaints seriously.

I fear that I may never know what happened to my son. So I have to hope that no other family ever experiences what my family did.

Again, thank you so much for covering this in such a sensitive way.

Kathy Gilleran, New York City

 

To the Editor

[re “Gone: an American Vanishes in Vienna,” TVR, July-Aug. 2012] I knew nothing about this incident: Why don’t the media care about this?

It certainly doesn’t sell Vienna very well as a safe and wonderful place to live and succeed in your dreams. I hope every police station in Vienna gets a poster for this movie. I’ve also written a message to the Police department and told them that all the officers should go see it.

The police in Vienna are terrible. It sometimes seems like they support material crime as a sort of industry booster. I moved here and most all my moving gear was stolen in Vienna in the process. What? He’s going to have to buy new equipment here? Great! The police were no help in tracking down anything.

What I’d like to know is who got our American friend into this weird sauna club, and who were his friends there? I am going to to see the movie as soon as I can, but did his mother talk to his close friends in Vienna?

Philipp Conrad, Vienna

 

To the Editor

Thank you for bringing Allan Janik’s “To Understand Austria, Ask a Foreigner” [July-Aug. 2012] to a readership that truly “gets” Vienna, Austria and Central Europe.

It is not easy to deal with five political, much less cultural, identities in the space of a century, particularly when Austrian literature, film, and cultural studies has continued to be folded into German studies at home and abroad.

And it has indeed been the academics, historians and art critics of the U.S. and UK that have battled the discounting of the Austrian experience through distorted conventions, which support, as Janik points out, the lack of intellectual biographies and a widespread disinterest among historians in cultural history at home.

As an Austrian-American, I saw Austria’s reluctance toward self-analysis as an impulse brought on by social and political trauma combined with a reactive academic tradition. It must be, and is being, challenged. What I see now is a growing self-awareness in academe that might yet surprise us yet – a resolute concept of Austrian Studies internationally based on an interdisciplinary approach to cultural history.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: After all, Austria – and Vienna in particular – have absorbed external impulses throughout history, transformed them, and seeded the world with the synthesis.

Robert Dassanowsky, President, Austrian Studies Association Vienna, Colorado Springs

 

To the Editor,

[re “A More Tolerant Poland,” TVR July-Aug. 2012] Just back from a week’s holiday in Poland. There is a curious double standard: A stranger on the train to Hel asked us where we were from. My friend said he was from L’viv and the Pole said immediately “then you are half Polish.” If he had been from Gdansk would that mean he was “half German”? (The Poles occupied L’viv after the first war and enforced Polish as the language of the universities).

It is the same “double standards” which makes Poles very self righteous about concentration camps. They do not like to hear of Polish ones (which they ran until the 1950s for non-Poles) or of the ethnic cleansing they carried out ruthlessly after the war ended.

Of course Poland suffered dreadfully, but they were not the only victims…

I do not think a modern Poland will emerge until the country comes to terms with its own guilt. The Polish communists collaborated with the Soviets in ethnic cleansing not only of the Germans but also Ukrainians and others. Many concentration camps were kept open after the war and run by Poles.

Meanwhile, of course, the Brits were surrendering Europe to Stalin. So, there is no high ground, only the terrible mistakes. No one in Europe is innocent and no one can claim the high ground. If we can start from that point then we have a hope to create a new Europe.

Steve Patriarca, Vienna 

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