A vibrant city of poets, artists and thinkers in the early 1900s, it went down in a sea of swastikas after Adolf Hitler’s triumphant return: Vienna after the Anschluss lost not only many of its people, but a great deal of its talent.
Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the day Nazi troops marched into Austria on March 12, 1938. Three days later, the Austrian-born Hitler gave a rousing speech from the balcony of Vienna’s Imperial Palace to a jubilant crowd of 250,000 and Austria ceased to exist as an independent state.
An exodus that began years earlier, when the Nazis took power in Germany, accelerated. And in the process, Austria lost many of its biggest names: people like Sigmund Freud and Oskar Kokoschka, and future luminaries such as Oscar winner Billy Wilder and Carl Djerassi, who would develop the contraceptive pill.
“[It was] a monstrous cultural blow,” says Johanna Rachinger, director of Austria’s National Library, which retraces the fateful days of March 1938 through photographs and testimonies in a new exhibit entitled “Night over Austria.”
Post-war former Austrian chancellor Leopold Figl once said: “Austria gave away the most Nobel prize winners, proportionally to the rest of the world.”
Among these were earlier Nobel laureates Erwin Schroedinger (physics, 1933) and Victor Hess (physics, 1936), but also future honorees — like Elias Canetti (literature, 1981), Walter Kohn (chemistry, 1998) and Eric Kandel (physiology and medicine, 2000) — who fled Vienna after the Nazis’ arrival and achieved success abroad, often after changing their nationality.
“The effect was a provincialization of Austria’s scientific landscape after 1945,” Austrian Academy of Sciences historian Johannes Feichtinger said.
“The country’s most brilliant minds were expelled ... In the post-war period, universities were in many cases dominated by mediocre figures, including people who owed their career to the Nazi regime,” he said.
A dynamic film industry was also choked as restrictions were imposed by the Nazi regime and Jewish artists fled to Hollywood.
Austria has only recently regained cinematic success — thanks to people like Michael Haneke or Christoph Waltz — but the local press has repeatedly noted that most of the country’s Oscars have been won by exiled filmmakers.
The list of talent that left Austria behind includes actor Peter Lorre, novelist Stefan Zweig, photographer Erich Lessing, Fritz Lang — the director of M and Metropolis — and Billy Wilder, who created classics such as Some Like It Hot and The Apartment.
“There was a great bloodletting of culture and intellect,” Jewish Museum Vienna curator Marcus Patka said. “In 1933, many intellectuals and artists — Jews and non-Jews — had fled from Germany to Vienna.”
“They were again displaced [in 1938] and the problem is that after the war, very, very few of these people came back,” he said.
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
On Sunday last week, in a nondescript building in the Indian city of Gwalior, 322km south of Delhi, a large crowd of men gathered. Most wore bright saffron hats and scarves, a color evoking Hindu nationalism, and many held strands of flowers as devotional offerings. They were there to attend the inauguration of the Godse Gyan Shala, a memorial library and “knowledge center” dedicated to Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi. The devotional yellow and pink flowers were laid around a black and white photograph of Godse, the centerpiece of the room. On Jan. 30, 1948, Godse stepped out in
CAN ‘STILL DREAM’: Lai Chi-wai said he hoped the event would send the message that people with disabilities can ‘bring about opportunity, hope’ Lai Chi-wai (黎志偉) became the first person in Hong Kong to climb more than 250m of a skyscraper while strapped into a wheelchair, as he pulled himself up for more than 10 hours on Saturday to raise money for spinal cord patients. The 37-year-old climber, whose car accident 10 years ago left him paralyzed from waist down, could not make it to the top of the 300m-tall Nina Tower on the Kowloon peninsula. “I was quite scared,” Lai said. “Climbing up a mountain, I can hold on to rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is