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In Praise of Concrete

In Praise of Concrete

Vienna is a sacred city and rightly proud of its churches. From soaring Gothic to gilded Baroque, the place boasts myriad well-documented masterpieces. Concealed in its suburbs, however, lurk other gems that reach to the heavens in spires of concrete. A first in concrete Austria’s first concrete church was unveiled in 1913 in Ottakring. The […]

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 Real Game of Thrones

The Real Game of Thrones

In the TV series Game of Thrones, across a continent with more than passing resemblance to Europe, families battle to attain the Iron Throne. Drama, scheming, and no shortage of blood gushes in with each episode. The show’s popularity may be due to its violence, dragons, and a generous dose of nudity – but it […]

How Isotype Almost Conquered The World

How Isotype Almost Conquered The World

Through the red-brick portal and dark green doors of the Austrian Museum for Social and Economic Affairs, there’s a Kaffeehaus. Or is it a Beisl? It’s not staged for tourists – just a pleasantly worn, friendly Lokal for sharing table and talk. Perfect for a museum whose daily bread is communication. Tucked away in a […]

Book Review: Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire

Book Review: Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire

The complexity and details of history, no matter what our interest in the subject, can often be hard work to sift through. Thus Maureen Healy’s Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire, first published in 2004, stands out, and remains a brilliant exception. Compellingly written and chock full of revealing anecdotes, Healy reveals a […]

WoMen at War: Austria at Home From 1914–1918

WoMen at War: Austria at Home  From 1914–1918

Military museums are tricky things: It’s important to honour the heroism and sacrifice in national defence, and important also to respect the strategies of victory or tragedies of loss. But war itself? To a modern sensibility, the answer is unclear – as the Austrian Museum of Military History, the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, apparently understands, and has […]

Bringing Salieri home

Legnago, in northern Italy, has requested the return of composer Antonio Salieri’s remains to his hometown, from his grave at Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof. The group “Legnago for Salieri”, comprised of the town’s citizens, has requested to recover the remains from the city of Vienna. The last known attempt to bring Salieri back to northern Italy was […]

Gilded Through History

Gilded Through History

It’s dark. We see a man entering a gallery whose dozens of display cases are all empty, save one. He approaches it, eyes wide with wonder at the golden object topped with two reclining figures in front of him: The Benvenuto Cellini Salt Cellar. While he gazes at it, he begins talking to the piece, […]

Letters to the Editor: Oct. 2012

To the Editor [Re “Uniting Europe, One Case at a Time” TVR Sept. 2012] This is Balkanisation, an old Austrian concept rather more successful prior to 1914 than after. But Habsburg Austria was in many ways more liberal than the European Union and its strength lay in celebrating diversity, not the authoritarian regimentation now coming […]

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