Monday, September 6, 2010

30. August--Last Post!! Hofburg redux

Today was the last day of the program. I can’t believe that it is over already. There is so much left of Vienna I want to explore. I guess I just have to come back some other time then, I guess. I feel like over this past month I have gotten to know the Habsburgs personally, learning of all their achievements, gains, character flaws, and deformities (they were definitely victims of inbreeding). Today I walked around the Hofburg, I felt I owed it to the Habsburgs to walk around the complex they used to live and rule from for hundreds of years. Even now, many city officials have offices in the Hofburg, and the Kanzleramt where the Chancellor governs from is situated directly across the street from the Hofburg. It is interesting how you can walk right up to the Kanzleramt. In the US, you would never be allowed to simply walk right up to the White House. Perhaps because Austria is officially a neutral state, the chancellor doesn’t receive as many death threats as Obama does. I decided to end my trip with another tour of the Schatzkammer. This treasury fascinates me because it basically showcases how the Habsburgs attempted to legitimize their power and amaze the townspeople through grandiose displays of wealth and authority.

The crown of the Habsburgs, commissioned by Rudolf II, is made up of 3 easily distinguishable parts. The 1st depicts scenes of Roman emperors and medieval kings and is supposed to infer that the Habsburgs are the natural successors of these great rulers. The 2nd part—the high arch in the middle—is reminiscent of the high arches that decorated the helmets of Roman emperors and is once again supposed to compare the Holy Roman Emperor to the Roman Emperors of history. The 3rd part depicts religious scenes and portrays the Habsburg ruler as Christ’s lieutenant, reinforcing the idea of the divine right of kings to rule. The crown is supposed to represent the Holy Roman Empire—at once an extension of the Roman Empire but at the same time guardians of the Christian faith, unlike the pagan Romans.

In the empire, religion often became a tool the rulers could use for political gains. The statue of the Virgin Mary am Hof, for example (of which the treasury has a miniature version), depicts Mary defeating a dragon with prayer. The dragon is supposed to represent the Protestant Swedes who had been pushed back from Vienna in the 30 Years’ War. By portraying the Swedes as an evil, blasphemous monster whose defeat was attributed to religious reasons, the Habsburgs were able to win more public support for themselves as defenders of Catholicism. Another important relic in the Schatzkammer is the Holy Lance. Supposedly, this lance had pierced the side of Jesus. Many rumors accompany this lance, like its supposed healing powers. It is also credited for Otto I’s victory at the Battle of the Lechfeld.

Speaking of Otto, the Reichskrone was made for either his or Otto II’s coronation in 962 or 968, respectively. Its octagonal shape is a reference to the 8 gates of Jerusalem. It is supposed to recall the Kingdom of God and demonstrate that the Holy Roman Empire is a mirror image of it. Its high arch, like the Habsburg family crown, is supposed to recall the helmets of ancient Roman emperors.

There is also a painting of Charlemagne in the Schatzkammer. In this picture, he stands in the middle holding an orb in one hand and a sword in another. This is another reference to the purpose of the Holy Roman Empire: It is deeply rooted in both the spiritual and material world. The cross on the orb represents faith, while the sword represents the material world and flesh, blood and mortality in general.

Even the Order of the Golden Fleece is rooted in biblical history. The original myth of the Golden Fleece was Greek, but it was adapted to fit a biblical story from the Old Testament.

While still in the Hofburg, I paid a visit to the Augustinerkirche. It is in this church that the hearts of the Habsburgs are kept. Unfortunately, the Herzgruft (heart crypt) was closed. With this visit, I have officially been to all three locations where the Habsburgs are located. I feel as though the placement of their remains—Their entrails in a cathedral, the hearts in a church, and their bodies in a crypt—further emphasize this duality between spirituality and materialism and mortality. According to Parsons, traveling to these locations was in itself a pilgrimage of sorts, as their remains were sacred. He also says that this journey’s purpose was to instill loyalty and piety on those who undertook it and also demonstrate the alliance between the throne and the crown.

Later that day we met in Prater park and rode the Riesenrad. This giant ferris wheel was featured in the movie The Third Man, and it was very exciting to be able to ride the same wheel we had seen in the movie. The surrounding area is called Prater Park, and contains an amusement park as well as a large public park.

After this we departed for our farewell dinner, which took place at a restaurant called Centimeter. Instead of ordering food individually, Kathy ordered five swords. Yup, real swords stuck through several layers of Wiener Schnitzel, lamb chops, and bell peppers, over a bowl of French fries and chili. A true Viennese meal. After the meal, people began leaving slowly, receiving an applause from the crowd at each departure.

Auf Wiedersehen, Wien

29. August--Coffee 'n' Music

Over the course of this month I have experienced another important part of Vienna’s history: Coffee. One theory of coffee’s introduction to Vienna goes back to the 1683 Turkish invasion and siege of Vienna. Allegedly, when the Turkish army was driven out of Austria, they left behind giant sacks of coffee beans, which the Polish spy named Kulczycki (or Kolschitzky) brought into the city and discovered how to brew coffee. Near the end of the siege, Kulczycki had disguised himself as a Turk and left the city, making his way through the Turkish encampments to meet with Duke Charles of Lorraine, who informed him help was imminent. Because of his actions, Vienna did not surrender to the Turks. He supposedly founded the first Viennese coffee house, called “Hof zur blauen Flasche.” At his café he always dressed in Turkish attire, which added to his popularity. He also pioneered the addition of milk with coffee to make mélange, something the Turks had not thought of.

Through Vienna’s history, coffee houses have played an important role. The house creates an alternative space other than a home, a church, or a tavern for public discourse. Not affiliated with either the church or the government, they do not fall under state or church control. Here, people spoke their minds and exchanged ideas. Coffee houses would also have subscriptions to papers, which they provide for the citizens to read. With such prolific information, they became known as “penny universities.” The coffee house crowds distanced themselves from the other public space where people could speak freely: the tavern. Frequenting a coffee house rather than a tavern or bar became a method of class distinction. Many intellectuals like Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx became regular sights at Viennese coffee houses. Another feature of coffee houses is the selection of cakes. One in particular, Sachertorte, is synonymous with Vienna. Sachertorte is a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam and aa laer of chocolate icing, Two places believe that they own the rights to the “original Sacher torte: the confectionary Demel and the Hotel Sacher. I have had Sachertorte at both of these places, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and at the Rathaus café, and I think the cake from Hotel Sacher is the best.

But enough about cake. Today I went to the old collection of musical instruments in the Hofburg to see another part of Vienna’s cultural history: music. This museum contained a large collection of Bosendorfer pianos, which is a Viennese company. This company was granted the title of imperial piano maker. There are many amazing pianos here, including one made for the World Fair in Paris. One was even designed by Joseph Hoffmann, the co-founder of the Vienna Workshop. Another part of the exhibit deals with the 12-tone music system, pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg. This system of music is designed to musically represent all notes equally, and make sure that all other notes are used before one can be used twice. I listened to several samples of this music here, and I must say I would not listen to it regularly. The theory behind it is interesting and might be something worth studying, but it is not something I would listen to all the time. During the Nazi period, Schoenberg’s music was labeled as degenerative art and Schoenberg himself immigrated to the United States to avoid persecution.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

4. August and 28. August--Heeresgeschichtliches Museum

Today our group went to the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, or the History of War museum for you Americans. Earlier that day in class we had learned about how the Habsburgs consolidated their power through marriages, and this museum showcased the Habsburg weapons used to keep the peace. The first sights in the museum were statues of the Habsburg emperors. Most of them bore symbols of membership to the Order of the Golden Fleece, a knightly order started by the Court of Burgundy, into which the Habsburgs married into with the marriage of Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy. This order denotes a high social status and was reserved for kings and emperors and those few who had greatly aided their rulers. Maximilian is noted by several of the readings as the “Last Knight” of the Medieval period and a “Renaissance man,” bridging the gap between the Dark Ages and the Renaissance. In this museum we traced the development of their weaponry, starting with swords and pikes, and later muskets and artillery. This museum seems to glorify the Habsburg ideal of AEIOU (alles Erdreich ist Österreich Untertan). I think it is interesting how Rudolf of Habsburg was elected emperor because he was seen as a weak king who wouldn't upset the current balance of power. His dynasty ended up ruling an empire for hundreds of years over which "the sun never sets" under Charles V. After Charles' reign, however, the empire was split between his son Philip, who ruled the Spanish lands, and his brother Ferdinand, who took over in Austria.

I decided today to revisit the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum today to look specifically at the 30 Years’ War and Turkish Invasion exhibitions. The 30 Years’ War was one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the Habsburgs. The advent of Protestantism allowed the nobles of certain countries, for example Bohemia, to resist the complete centralization of power. In Bohemia, the rich magnates became Calvinist, a deliberate gesture against the Habsburgs. In 1618 the electors elected Frederick of the Palatinate as King of Bohemia, who became known as the “winter king” because of his short stint as ruler. Traditionally, the kings of Bohemia had all been Habsburgs, and Frederick was seen as a usurper. In response to his coronation, two Habsburg messengers were sent to Prague, where the infamous Defenestration of Prague took place, sparking the war. At this time, professional armies were not yet in use; soldiers on both sides were mercenaries, raised at personal expenses. They also lacked any sense of uniformity, with every soldier wearing his own uniform. A painting in this museum depicts the 1632 battle of Luetzen, in which Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king on the side of the Protestants and a military genius, was killed. What is particularly interesting is that in this picture women and children are depicted helping with the war effort, driving cattle and following the soldiers. This close proximity to the dead and livestock probably caused disease outbreaks and may be one reason why the war killed so many people.

The most important Catholic general of this war was Albrecht von Wallenstein. As a military entrepreneur and genius he drove the Protestants back. He raised his armies at his own expense, and over time he was considered too powerful and dismissed by Ferdinand II in 1630. Later, however, he was recalled to duty because of Protestant victories, when he once again rose to fame. Because of his services, he was made a member of the Golden Fleece, the highest honor the Habsburgs could give him. However, as is the case with every celebrity, rumors began to fly around him. He was suspected of committing treason, and was assassinated by officers loyal to the emperor.

Our other purpose in visiting this museum was to examine the Ottoman Empire and how the Turks are portrayed in this museum. To do this, however, one must first understand the Ottoman Empire. The empire itself lasted almost as long as the Habsburgs did, from 1299 to 1923. It reached its height in the 16th and 17th centuries, as evidenced by their sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683. During this time, the Ottomans were the only Eastern power to pose a challenge to the Holy Roman Empire, and were supported by France for this reason. As the empire expanded, they would frequently employ native people in the lands they conquered as administrators. The Turks believed that Muslims, Christians, and Jews were all “People of the Book,” and therefore treated them leniently. In this way, the Turks were even more tolerant of non-Catholics than the Habsburgs were, whose official policy towards Jews, according to Joseph II, was “to make the totality of Jewry harmless, but the individual useful.” When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, the same year Columbus made his fateful voyage, they settled in the Ottoman Empire. They followed Ottoman conquests into the Balkans, and settled in areas like Bulgaria and Thessaloniki. Expelled Jews also found refuge in Italy, taking advantage of Italy's divided states to settle there.

One part of the museum deals with the 1683 siege of Vienna. During this siege, Leopold I left Count Ernst Rudiger von Starhemberg in charge of the defense of Vienna as he himself fled the city. With only around 12,000 troops, he held the city against the Turkish Kara Mustafa’s army of 40,000 strong until a Polish relief force freed the city. Prince Eugene of Savoy was a twenty-year old at this time, riding amidst the relief forces. There is a painting hanging in the Heeresgeschichtliches museum of the relief of Vienna. I would consider the work a complete work of Habsburg propaganda. In it, the victorious and noble Christians are driving back the bumbling Turks, many of who are falling over themselves in an attempt to escape. The Turks in this picture are portrayed as deformed and even pig-like, with expressions of shock and fear on their faces.

After experiencing some of Austria's more violent history, we experienced it's cultural history at a Heuriger. This was a traditional Heuriger, meaning it only served its wine and only for a few weeks. The Heuriger itself was hidden away in Vienna's residential district, giving it an even more comfortable and gemütlicher feeling.

Deutsches wort des Tages: wahrscheinlich. Ein Wort, das ich mindestens vor vier Jahren gewusst habe. Auf English, bedeutet dieses Wort 'Probably'

27 August--Last day of class, Kaisergruft, Wien Museum, Karlskirche, Third Man

Today was the last day of class at the Austria-America Institute. In this last session, we covered the last century of Austrian history. In 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian crown, was assassinated and in response Emperor Franz Joseph declared war on Serbia, which unfortunately dragged the rest of Europe into World War One. Franz Joseph died in 1916 and was succeeded by Charles I, who would become the last emperor of Austria. In 1918 Charles I abdicated, effectively ending 640 years of Habsburg rule. He would later die in exile in 1922. Austria was declared a republic, led by its first chancellor Dr. Karl Renner. Renner was a moderate socialist and took precautions against any resurgence of a monarchy in Austria by issuing the Habsburg Law, which forced the Habsburg family members to swear allegiance to the republic or face banishment. The fledgling republic also outlawed the use of aristocratic titles, such as the use of “von” in someone’s name. The peace treaty that concluded WWI forced heavy reparations onto the citizens and crippled the new republic. Inflation and shortages of food and resources also helped bring the state to its knees. During this time, political parties had their own militias. This was the era of the so-called “Red Vienna,” when socialists had control of the city government. One monument from this era are the public housing buildings on the Karl Marx Platz. In 1933 Rudolf Dollfuss, a Christian Socialist, was elected as chancellor. He implemented an austro-fascist regime and even dissolved Parliament. In 1934 civil war broke out when the socialist Schutzband resisted orders to disband, and fighting ensued between the social democrat and Christian socialist militias. After this incident, the social democratic party was banned and the era known as Red Vienna came to an end. A 1934 political coup attempt left Dollfuss murdered, whom Kurt Schuschnigg succeeded. In the face of Germany’s rise to power, Schuschnigg organized a plebiscite which would decide whether Austria should remain independent or if it should join Germany. Hitler stopped this from happening with a threat of invasion and shortly after Schuschnigg resigned. Hitler invaded anyways in 1938 and annexed Austria in the Anschluss of March 11. He received a jubilant welcome in Linz and on the 15th of March he reached Vienna, where he gave a resounding speech at the neue Hofburg. Hitler organized his own plebiscite on the issue of whether or not the people of Austria wanted to join Germany, meaning that he fixed the election to favor himself. According to his polls, 99.7 per cent of Austrians favored annexation, with the remaining 0.3 per cent attributed to the Jews. Within the first few days of his rule, 20,000 people were arrested and only 16 days after his speech in Vienna, April 1st, his first dissidents were on their way to Dachau. 18 per cent of Vienna’s population was not allowed to vote, and many of Vienna’s Jewish intellectuals like Freud and Schoenberg immigrated. In total, 2/3 of Vienna’s 185,000 Jews emigrated and in 1942 the Nazis declared Vienna free of Jews. In April 1945 at the Battle for Vienna the Russians liberated the city. This was not the end of the Viennese people’s troubles, though, because at the end of the war many mass rapes occurred in liberated territories. Kathy herself told us several personal stories about several close calls her mother and grandmother faced in the Russian sector of Berlin. It was interesting to hear a firsthand account of this time period. The stories made it a much more real issue to me than it would have had if I had just read it out of a book. After its liberation, Karl Renner once again headed the provisional government. Austria became its own state again in 1955 with the signing of the Staatsvertrag in the Belvedere. Austria became a neutral state in return for Russia lifting its occupation of the city.

After class we visited the Kaisergruft at the Kapuzinerkirche. This crypt contains the bodies of the Habsburgs; their hearts are in the Hofburg and their entrails are in the catacombs at St. Stephens' Cathedral. I thought the contrast between Maria Theresia's and Joseph II's graves was really interesting. As a ruler during the Baroque style, Maria Theresia's coffin is very large and extravagantly decorated. Joseph II's coffin, however, is quite plain and decorated only with a plaque with his name. This reflects his position as an enlightened monarch and his rejection of showiness and superfluous decor. Many tombs were also decorated with skulls wearing either the Habsburg family crown or the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. I am not quite sure what the significance of this is, but I think it shows the mortality of the Habsburgs and their humility. Beller references this, saying that in death the Church was more powerful than the state. He references a story, in which an emperor's coffin is escorted to the Church to be blessed. The coffin's attendant announces the emperor's arrival and lists his accomplishments. The Church then refuses to let him in, saying "we don't know him." After this rejection, the attendant presents the emperor as "an old sinner seeking redemption." Events like these kept the Habsburgs humble.

Today I finally had the chance to go up into Karlskirche. Construction of this church began in 1716 to commemorate the last plague epidemic of 1713. On top of being a plague memorial, the church also showcases Habsburgs’ claims to power. The two pillars at the front, according to Parsons, “allude to Charles VI’s enduring but thwarted claim to Spain, lost to the dynasty when the Spanish Habsburg line died out in 1700.” Other symbols of the church contain biblical references that are supposed to stress the legitimacy of Habsburg power. Inside the church itself, we took a rickety elevator about halfway up into the church, and then climbed several levels of rickety scaffolding into the dome itself.

After risking our lives in the Karlskirche, we went to the Wien museum, which stands just next to it. This museum tells the history of Vienna as a city, rather than a seat of power for the Habsburgs. Before the Romans, hunter-gatherers were present in Vienna around 40,000 BC. Around 6,000 BC early agriculture developed. The Roman settlement of Vindobona comprised roughly 30,000 people, consisting of native Celts and immigrants from other parts of the empire. The Roman empire fell around 476 AD because of Germanic tribal invasions, which ushered in the Dark Ages, a period from about 476 to 900 AD. This period saw a decrease in literacy and a revert to local governments under bishops, because during these times the Church provided stability in a war-torn world. Medieval Vienna’s economy centered on trade and wine making. In 1143 the Babenbergs took up residence in Vienna, and in 1200 the city walls were erected, which would stand until 1857. The Vienna University was founded in 1365, and in 1469 Vienna was elevated to a diocese. The Viennese school system was further developed under the reign of Maria Theresia, who mandated that all children were required to attend school. Over time, Vienna was transformed from a court-based feudal society to a bourgeois society over time. Some notable events of this transition include: the reorganization of the guild system, the abolition of the torture and death penalties, the introduction of primary education, increased toleration towards Jews and non-catholics, and the founding of public institutions like the general hospital and Prater Park. The enlightened reforms of Joseph II also aided in this transition. In the last quarter of the 18th century, the number of people in Vienna and its suburbs exceeded 200,000 for the first time.

Later that day we went to the Burgkino to see the film-noir classic The Third Man. Filmed in 1949, it contains many scenes of locations from Vienna that were damaged during World War Two. In the film, an American western writer Holly Martins arrives in Vienna in search of his friend Harry Lime. When he gets there, however, he is told that Harry is dead, killed in an accident with a truck. Holly doubts that his death was an accident, and begins his own investigation into Harry’s death. I won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen it, but it is a very good movie. I liked seeing the parts of Vienna we had visited, like the Riesenrad or the statue of Joseph II in front of the Hofburg, where the “accident” occurs.

Deutsches Tagewort: 'Fußball.' Auf Englisch heißt Fußball Soccer. Wir haben einen Fußballspiel zwischen zwei Fussballklubs aus Wien und England gesehen.

26 August--UN, IAEA, UNODC

We toured the UN’s Vienna Headquarters today. The UN complex itself is considered nonaligned territory, so when we stepped onto the grounds, we left Vienna itself. The modern, towering buildings house mainly branches of the UN dealing with science and technology. The UN café, in comparison with the rest of Vienna, is extremely cheap and has amazing food. I got an entire meal for less than 5 euro. I would come here to eat everyday, if it wasn’t such a hassle to get in.

Our first lecture was from the IAEA, or the International Atomic Energy Association. This organization focuses on limiting the number of nations that have access to nuclear weapons. The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 sought to halt the development of nuclear weapons production by restricting nuclear weapons development to only those countries that had exploded a nuclear device before January 1967. Of the 144 current member states, only five fit these requirements: the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China. Any other countries that had signed the treaty, known as Non-nuclear Weapon States, pledged not to develop nuclear weapons. To me, this treaty seems a little one-sided and gives these countries an edge over other countries in terms of military strength. I asked the lecturer why countries would agree to this treaty, and his response was that the IAEA’s goal is that one day no states will possess nuclear weapons. This seems to me too optimistic of a view, because the organization is not involved in decreasing the number of warheads in any of the countries allowed to possess such weapons. The organization depends heavily on the volunteer involvement of its member nations, because any of them could choose to back out of the arrangement and develop nuclear weapons in spite of UN disapproval, as was the case with North Korea in 2003. Since then, North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests. The nations of India, Pakistan, Israel, are outside of the NPT as well, and according to the New York Times, Iran has opened its first nuclear reactor, despite the UN’s attempts to investigate it and confirm it is going to be used only for peaceful purposes. The UN also helps countries dismantle their nuclear programs, which is easier said than done. A country may destroy every trace of a nuclear plant, but the knowledge will live on through the scientists that worked at the plant.

The IAEA focuses on three areas for regulating the nuclear industry: Safeguards, Safety, and Technology. If a country does decide to go nuclear, it will be evaluated by the IAEA to determine if it is able to undertake such an extensive project. The country’s economic and political situations are factored into the decision to determine if the country is stable enough for a plant and if it has the necessary capital. If the country is given the green light to proceed, then they will spend approximately the next 30 years building the plant, which itself is active between 50 to 70 years. The 2nd area the IAEA focuses on, Safety, is exactly what it sounds like. It sets the standards for the nuclear industry so it can be safely used. Radioactive materials have many uses across a wide range of fields, from industry and medicine to agriculture and mineral exploitation. Another subcategory of Safety is Security. It is very easy for a country to secretly divert some of the resources bound for peaceful power plants to weapons-developing plants. To counter this, the IAEA can send inspectors to suspect countries to inspect their nuclear facilities. Those skeptical of Iran’s intentions with its new power plant think that the country may be using it to refine uranium for weapons. Iran itself has repeatedly blocked UN investigations of its premises. Terrorists may target power plants as a mean of undermining one nation’s power—the towering columns provide an easy target, or they may also detonate dirty bombs—regular bombs with a small amount of nuclear material inside them. These ‘dirty bombs’ can have psychological consequences on the inhabitants of the area, as they may think that they have been exposed to nuclear radiation. The amount of material used is usually negligible, however, but nevertheless can spark a great deal of fear. The 3rd area of IAEA expertise deals with ‘Techology’. In exchange for agreeing not to proliferate nuclear weapons, the IAEA will offer technology and information on how to improve power efficiency. While restricting the weaponizable aspects of nuclear power, the IAEA is trying to improve and innovate its peaceful use.

Our second lecture was from the UNODC, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where a representative spoke about human trafficking. Human trafficking entered the UN arena in 2000, when a protocol was put forth that accurately defined what it was and required its member nations to ban it. Human trafficking is a global problem. What surprised me about the issue was not the locations that the victims were being trafficked from, it was where they were headed. Most of the victims are sent to affluent nations like the US. The US had one of the highest, if not the highest, number of trafficked people imported into it. Trafficking can come in many forms: prostitution, forced labor, or even organ harvesting. The root of this issue is vulnerability, with the victim rendered initially willing to comply with the perpetrator. People are more vulnerable in times of crises, war, persecution, corruption, and the like. Most victims come from poorer countries experiencing these hardships and generally have a lack of education or face poverty or discrimination to some degree. The UNODC trains local police to look for signs of trafficking and helps promote public awareness of the issue. It also has a number of NGOs (non-government organizations) active in countries that have high rates of trafficking to combat this terrible issue and give victims a place they can turn to for support.

Friday, September 3, 2010

25. August--Jewish Museum, St. Stephen's Crypt, Mozarthaus

In class today we reflected on our visit to Mauthausen and what it meant to each of us. Some people were profoundly affected, others not so much. I think as a class we came to the conclusion that we didn’t really know what to think, but maybe some years down the road we would know. Kathy talked about a previous time she had been to a concentration camp memorial and witnessed two kids running around, laughing, and generally being loud. I think everybody responds to things in their own way, and if running around and laughing is the way that one deals with their experiences at the memorial, then nobody should say they aren’t behaving the right way. At the very least they shouldn’t disturb others with shouting and the like, but I don’t think people have the right to dictate how one should feel at a given time.

After this discussion we went to the Jewish museum near the Hofburg. This museum contains two sections: one on educating the public about Jewish holidays and traditions, and the other describing the expulsion of Jews from various parts of Europe, particularly Spain, and the consequences of those actions. In 1492 the Jews from Spain, or the Sephardic Jews, were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. Many of them found refuge in the Ottoman Empire, which at that time was at the height of its power. As the Ottomans expanded westward and took the Balkans, Jews could establish communities there. Later, peace treaties between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs allowed the Sephardic Jews to settle in Vienna. The Habsburgs generally had a negative attitude towards Jews, but were willing to make exceptions for individuals in exchange for benefits. One example is that of the Jews that handled court finances, the Oppenheimer family and later the Wertheimer family. They were given special privileges not given to other Jews, like the right to live inside the city walls.

After this museum we finally decided to go down into the crypt at St. Stephen’s cathedral. The catacombs underneath the church were built more than 700 years ago under Rudolf IV, the so-called “Stifter.” Our guide was probably the most cheerful Viennese person I had ever met, and he acted like showing us this underground crypt was the most exciting thing he had ever done. Weird? Maybe. The first room was lined with coffins containing the mummified remains of cardinals. The next hallway, lined with big metal jars, led to a small room where Rudolf IV, next to his wife and surrounded by his relatives, was buried. In these jars are contained the organs of all the Habsburg rulers. The bodies of the Habsburgs were buried in the imperial crypt, their hearts in the Augustinerkirche, and their organs and entrails in this crypt. Apparently not long ago one of the jars started leaking, spilling some Habsburg goo into the hallway. The city’s solution to these kinds of problems is to just put the old container in a bigger one. This has happened several times over the centuries. I wonder what will happen if it keeps happening and they run out of room? Anyways, back to the tour. We passed by rooms in which the floor was covered with bones of dead plague victims. Until it was closed by Joseph II in 1783, the catacomb was used as a public graveyard. Citizens would be placed in caskets, which would be stacked on top of each other in these small underground rooms. With the last outbreak of the plague in 1730, tunnels were made connecting the streets and the rooms we were seeing so the dead could be thrown underground into mass graves more efficiently. In another room, people had stacked bones and skulls to conserve space, creating a room lined with images of death. What I found the most interesting, however, was that we were only seeing a tiny portion of the catacombs. The majority of them were closed off. The rooms we saw, with the waves of bones frozen in time, were enough to fascinate and at the same time creep me out a little.

Our third and final museum for today was the Mozarthaus, the house where Mozart and his wife Constanze lived when Mozart arrived in Vienna in 1781. The ruler at this time, Joseph II, encouraged artists to come to Vienna and employed Mozart as imperial composer. Mozart received a large income over his career, but squandered much of it through gambling, something that would continue to plague the Mozart family. One year, for example, a friend lent Mozart 1,515 florins to help with his debts while Mozart himself earned around 9,100 florins a year, more than enough to live extravagantly. At that time, 1,000 florins would have been enough to live a comfortable life. During his lifetime, Mozart was increasingly invited by the aristocracy to perform in their homes and salons, rather than the Imperial palace. This marks a gradual change as these salons replaced the royal court as centers of the arts and social life. Mozart, along with Haydn (after his Esterhazy years), is a prime example of an independent musician.

24. August--Mauthausen, Weidthoven

In “Still Alive,” Ruth Kluger writes that holocaust memorials are unnecessary and actually disrespect the dead rather than commemorate them. Kluger is a concentration camp survivor herself, first in the ghetto Theresianstadt and then Auschwitz. She argues that the memorials today are nothing more than mere tourist attractions. In her opinion, “we don’t honor the dead with these unattractive remnants of past crimes; we collect and keep them for the satisfaction of our own necrophilic desires.” To her, these remnants do not contain any of the gruesome details they did in the past that would allow the viewer to identify with the victims—sights, smells, voices, hunger, etc. In her opinion, for one to truly understand something they have to be able to relate to it.

With this in the back of my mind, I entered the concentration camp Mauthausen. Mauthausen was not officially an extermination camp, but 100,000 people still died, out of the 200,000 that passed through the camp. The camp is situated on top of a large stone quarry which served as the source of materials used in the construction of the camp. The camp was largely built by the prisoners themselves, something that I find fascinating, because most of the prisoners had no prior knowledge of how to go about this. These were people from all walks of life, many of them not used to hard physical labor and zero knowledge of masonry. Masons had to be brought in from the town itself to instruct the prisoners on how to cut the stones. This meant that people in the town knew what was going on in the camp. On top of that, the SS had a very good soccer team, and many teams came to the camp to play soccer. In her book, Kluger writes that “cowardice is both normal and the norm.” I am not sure whether or not I blame the citizens who knew what was going on in the camp, primarily because I am not sure how I would act in the same situation. I think that people should not be blamed for cowardice because it is a natural and biological reaction to violence, referring here to the “fight or flight” response. The bystanders may have also feared for their own lives or those of their families.

The camp’s first wave of brutality was in the form of the prison trains. Hundreds of people could be packed into these small cars for days on end (the longest one our guide told us about was 18 days). The 100,000 that are said to have died here at the camp does not take into account the many that died en route in the squalid conditions the trains provided. Packed together, disease ran rampant as people urinated and defecated on the floors and each other, bowing to the inevitable after being cooped up for so long.

After debarking, they would be marched through the town of Mauthausen and past the watchful eyes of the townspeople, who were told that they were criminals, to the so-called Klagemauer, the wall just inside the camp’s walls where the prisoners were stripped and made to line up, once again sometimes for days. They were eventually given a uniform and made to work in the granite quarry. Mauthausen’s purpose was to work the prisoners to death. The guards took great liberties with this and often implemented their own sadistic ideas into their routines. For example, the prisoners would be made to run down a series of narrow steps into the quarry while being beaten by jeering guards along the way. At the bottom, they would pick up a heavy stone and run back up the steps, with the guards hounding them the entire way. If you fell with your stone, you were beaten. Hundreds of prisoners were thrown from the precipice overlooking the quarry, which came to be known as die Fallschirmsspringer wand, or the Parachutist’s wall.

The SS also recruited prisoners to act as supervisors for the other prisoners. These individuals, known as capos, were german speaking, not anti-Nazi, and generally willing to use violence in dealing with the other prisoners. Four capos would usually stay in one room and oversee the room adjacent to theirs, which usually contained 200 people. The room itself did not have enough beds for the number of people crammed in them. People would usually share a bed with someone else, if they were lucky enough to get a bed.

After Mauthausen, we went to the small town of Weidhoven, the home of Kathy’s friends. This town was sieged by the Turks in the fifteenth century, but the townspeople rallied themselves and drove out the invaders. According to the legend, several citizens of the town, smiths, and farmers—poorly outfitted for war--charged the Turkish position in the night while screaming, yelling, and making other sounds. The Turks were so surprised that they turned tail and fled the city. In recognition of this event a tower was built in the city. The city was also occupied by the Nazis and the city’s Rathaus even features a mural sized work of national socialist art, displaying the town with distinct Nazi features. When the Russians liberated the town, they did not destroy the painting, but simply required that the Nazi elements be removed. After the tour of this small town we gathered in a local restaurant for dinner and some local brew. On the bus ride back, the entire bus broke into song and we sang (if you can call a bus full of history students trying to sing singing) the entire way back to Vienna. Definitely an interesting contrast with the earlier gloomy mood with the group at the concentration camp. Maybe that was our way of dealing with the harsh subject matter we had been presented with today. Who knows?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

23 August--Leopold Museum, Jewish museum

Today we got another Dr. O tour, this time of the Leopold Museum. This was one of my favorite museum because of its large collections of Klimt and Schiele paintings. Egon Schiele was a contemporary of Gustav Klimt. Both artists were associated with the Secession movement and the belief that every generation should have its own art. The Leopold family privately owns the entire collection, and the state of Vienna built the museum for the family to house it. The late Dr. Leopold started his collection by selling a stamp collection he had inherited and purchasing several sketches by Schiele for a few schillings. At this time Schiele was not popular and many of his works were considered pornographic.

One of the works we saw were the paintings that Klimt had painted for the Vienna university. In the early stages of his artistic career, Klimt was associated with the Ringstrasse movement, and as a talented painter he was commissioned to paint two of the four faculties that would hang on the walls of the university—the faculties of Philosophy and Medicine. He interpreted these fields differently than one would expect. His portrayal of Medicine is filled with images of death, while his portrayal of philosophy conveys no clear picture of this ideology and is filled with images of despair. Needless to say, the University refused his paintings and this caused Klimt to ditch the Ringstrasse movement in favor of the Secession. This museum also contains the painting Klimt was working on when he died-- a marriage scene. Because it is unfinished, several of Klimt's painting processes are still visible, namely the fact that he would paint his subjects nude, and then 'clothe' them. I think that this is appropriate for someone who spent so much time pondering about the female body. Klimt himself was a lady's man and fathered several illegitimate children.

This museum contains one of the largest collection of Schiele paintings. As previously mentioned, Schiele, born in 1890, was an associate and friend of Klimt’s who both influenced and was influenced by him. Like Klimt in his later years, Schiele was an expressionist painter. Schiele is noted for the many self-portraits he has produced, all in the expressionist style. Many of his paintings are done of nudes, something that got him into trouble before. Schiele was arrested for allegedly sexually harassing several peasant girls, while in reality he was simply painting them. Determined to convict him, the court declared that in his workshop there were nude pictures where underage girls could possibly see them, and so Schiele spent three days in prison. Many of his works deal with themes of death. Schiele’s painting “Der tote Mutter,” which depicts a deathly and downcast looking woman clothed in black cradling a baby, foreshadows the demise of his wife and unborn child at the hand of the Spanish flu. In 1918 the Spanish Flu was raging through Vienna, and Schiele was doing everything he could to prevent his wife from catching it, doing everything for her so she would not have to leave the house often. Unfortunately, she did catch it and died on the 28th of October. Three days later Schiele succumbed to the flu himself.

Another part of the Secession movement was the creation of the Vienna Workshop. This group put forth the idea thatanything can be art, so long as it is hand made and effort and detail are put into its production.

After the Leopold Museum we embarked on a walking tour of downtown Vienna, highlighting Vienna's Jewish history. We saw the Jewish holocaust memorial, which consisted of a rectangle bordered by bookshelves, with all the book binds pointing inwards. This arrangement does not allow you to see what the books are titled or what they contain. This is a reference to the fact that the Holocaust 'closed the book' for millions of people and didn't allow their stories to be told. It also references the stories that might have been told, if these people were allowed to live out their lives. Now these people's stories are inaccessible. This monument also lists the 41 camps where Austrian Jews died. Across from this monument is a statue of Gottfried Ephraim Lessing, who was a very influential Enlightenment author and proponent of religious tolerance. On a wall facing this square is a plaque commemorating the 1420-21 pogroms in Vienna. These acts of violence were sparked with the accusation of two Jews in Ents of host desecration-- that is, they were accused of stealing a consecrated wafer from communion (which to the catholics was the actual body of christ-- it's called transubstantiation) and subsequently torturing it, because by torturing the wafer, you are torturing Jesus apparently. In response to this, the Jews were burnt at the stake and other Jews were subject to pogroms. I think it is interesting that the plaque commemorating this event praises it as helping 'cleanse' the population.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

20-22 August--Prague

We continued today with our discussions on the Secession movement at the turn of the 19th century. The Secession was an artistic break from the Historicist architecture period from the time of the Ringstrasse’s inception. The Parliament building (built 1874-1884), for example, is built in a classical Greek style, reminiscent of democracy’s beginnings in Greece and Rome.

Later that day we began making plans to go to Prague for the weekend. We spent several hours looking up travel information, then took a train out of Vienna at 6. Arriving at 11 with no local currency, no map, and not able to understand the language, we wandered nervously around for a while. At this time, pretty much everything was closed. Luckily, a hotel nearby sold us train tickets and gave us a map of the city and we were able to look up where we needed to go. The Czech metro system is, in my opinion, better than the Viennese one. It travels faster and has better brakes. Upon arrival at the hostel, however, we were informed that we didn’t have a reservation and that the hostel was completely booked. In response to this I showed the clerk our confirmation email, and they sent a taxi to pick us up and take us to a hostel with free space, free of charge. Another note: Czech people are a lot nicer than the Viennese, and Prague is extremely tourist friendly. Anyways, after finally arriving, it was around 1:30 or 2 in the morning, and we all instantly went to sleep.

Destination: Prague. We got up around eight today and had breakfast at the hostel (another reason Czechs are friendlier than the Viennese—they give you food). We made our way through the center of Prague, called Old Prague. We passed through many town squares and even climbed a tower to see an amazing view of Prague. We eventually passed over a bridge named after Charles the Fourth, one of the Holy Roman Emperors who was not a Habsburg, but rather reigned during the time after Rudolf of Habsburg’s reign and the next Habsburg emperor, around 150 years later. Another interesting fact is that Rudolf II, Habsburg and Holy Roman Emperor, has his name engraved on the facade of the Bohemian museum, probably as recognition to the fact that he moved the court from Vienna to Prague in 1583. In addition, Rudolf II, who it was rumored had mental problems and never married, was a great patron of the sciences. He invited Tycho Brahe to the court to be the imperial astronomer, where he worked in cooperation with Johannes Kepler. Rudolf II was not a particularly effective ruler, as he was more interested in science and alchemy than the affairs of the state. Rudolf II also commissioned the Habsburg family crown, with which no Habsburg was actually crowned.

Our final destination was Prague’s Music Museum, which showcases the development of almost every instrument. Today, however, was a special exhibit on the Beatlemania era in the Czech Republic. This museum contained several weird memorabilia from this era, including a Beatles sweatshirt, Beatles beer, and the Beatles’ weekly magazine. Thismuseum highlighted the Czech underground youth movement and seemed to want to say to foreigners that youth behind the iron curtain resisted against authority and tried to bring western music to Prague. We saw shoddily assembled guitars, made by people inspired by the music they heard and read about the underground music scene, which featured a Czech cover band that performed Beatles songs. We toured the actual museum next, which was full of weird instruments that served as transition pointsfor modern instruments. Some of them made little sense, like a violin with a bell attached to it or a baritone horn with two bells. It was interesting to see the origins of each instrument and how they developed over time.

After the museum, we caught a concert at the Museum of Bohemian history. An octet performed the overture of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," a Bach Air, a Dvorak Humoresque, and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in its entirety.

Destination: Prague, day 2. We had to be out of the hostel by 10 today, but were able to lock up our stuff and go walk about more. We walked through the city again, this time going to the Prague castle, which is more like a church in a giant courtyard surrounded by lesser buildings. The Habsburgs had moved their court to Prague two times, once under Rudolf II whose name we saw on the Bohemian museum where we saw the concert.

After the Prague castle we made our way to the Vltava river, where we got to relax on a boat ride around Prague. I enjoyed being able to relax in the sun. We saw the Prague metronome, a giant red metronome that keeps the beat of the city.

19. August--Schonbrunn und Fussballspiel

I finally made it out to the Schonbrunn palace today. Schonbrunn used to be the imperial summer residence palace of the Habsburgs. Under her reign, Maria Theresia expanded Schonbrunn in the Baroque style to emphasize the Habsburg's claim to power. Napoleon actually lived in Schonbrunn when he conquered Austria. His son grew up on its grounds, but as his coming of age coincided with Napoleon's defeat, he didn't leave the palace for fear of being recognized. He was plagued with health problems and eventually died at age 21. I didn’t actually go into the palace, but toured the gardens

and walked around the palace’s backyard/park. The gardens themselves are amazing. They are kept up in the French style, meaning that everything is neatly shorn, there is nothing overgrown, and most of the shrubs are small, excluding the surrounding hedges. This style is supposed to impose authority on nature and keep it under control.

One of the members of my program is a big soccer fan, and today the Vienna Rapid club was playing Aston Villa from England, so we got a group together to go to the game. The game itself was sold out, but we were hoping we could scalp tickets off of people at the stadium. Armed with me as interpreter, we tried unsuccessfully to find someone that would sell us four tickets. Five minutes before the game started, though, we managed to get tickets in the Visitor’s section, meaning we were sitting with all the crazy British fans screaming obscenities and trying to start fights with the Viennese supporters. The game itself was a lot of fun to watch and it ended it a 1-1 tie. After the match, we were let out of the stadium last (so the british fans don't start riots, I guess) and were escorted out with at least twenty police officers. Soccer is obviously an important part of Viennese life. Vienna's team isn't even that good, yet there were probably a good 15,000 screaming Viennese supporters.

Das deutsches Tagewort ist 'möglich.' In English it means 'possible.' Ich glaube, dass es nicht möglich ist, alles in Wien zu sehen, wenn man dort nur ein Monat bleibt.

18. August-- Biedermeier, Secession, Belvedere

At the Congress of Vienna from sep. 1814 to June 1815, the powers of Europe re established the pre-Napoleonic borders of Europe and attempted to squash out any more revolutionary ideas. For the period of time from 1813 to 1848, Prince Clemens von Metternich tried to silence any revolutionary action. The result of this effort was that people began withdrawing into their homes and gathering away from public areas to speak and gossip in private. This era is known as the Biedermeier period, so named because 'Bieder' means simple, and Meier is a common last name. An ideal Biedermeier lifestyle would consist of a simple, suburban lifestyle, caught up in your own world and not paying attention to what is going on around you, gemuetlichkeit, and the idea of locking everything up to keep it from others. In this world there was also a double standard, and women would often follow the three K’s: Kinder, Kueche, und Kirche.

In class today we also learned about the Ringstrasse architectural movement. This movement followed the deconstruction of Vienna’s walls. These fortifications had in the past proved necessary for Vienna’s defense during the Turkish sieges of 1529 and 1683. As Vienna was expanding, the walls were needed less and less (they didn’t stop Napoleon from taking Vienna), until they were done away with completely by emperor Franz Joseph in the mid 19th century. The destruction of the walls in 1857 created a large amount of land that was bought up by a new emerging social class: the Ringstrasse Barons, who were attempting to mimic the lifestyles of the old aristocracy. To accomplish this, they built many new buildings on the area that the walls used to occupy, called the Ringstrasse. These buildings, built in classical greek and Roman styles, were supposed to compare its commissioner with these bygone rulers and empires. The Parliament building, built in the classical Greek style, recalls democracy's Greek Roots. The University was built in the neo-Renaissance style, referring to the new advent of learning that accompanied the Renaissance. The Rathaus, in neo-Gothic, according to Parsons, the "free burgher cities of medieval Flanders." The Secession movement, of which Otto Wagner played an important role (see Kirche am Steinhof), was a rejection of this architectural idea and asserted that every era should have its own art.

Today we got to tour the inside of the baroque Belvedere Palace. Before, we had only viewed the outside and the gardens, but today we were able to go inside and see its art and architecture. As I wrote previously, the Belvedere was a gift to Prince Eugene of Savoy for finally driving the Turks back in the late 17th century. Now, the palace is home to a large collection of art and sculpture. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside. The palace houses a large collection of art from the Biedermeier period, depicting scenes from family life or scenery.

This building also houses many works by the famous Art Nouveau artist and later Expressionist Gustav Klimt. Klimt, who lived from 1862 to 1918, was good friends with the expressionist painter Egon Schiele. Klimt was the son of a goldsmith, and his early works for the Vienna Secession demonstrate this. Many of Klimt's works deal with the so-called "feminine mystique," the idea that one can never truly understand what goes on in a woman's head. One of his most famous works, der Kuss, depicts a couple locked in an embrace and enveloped by a shimmering gold shroud. The man in the painting is giving the woman a kiss. Through this painting Klimt teases the viewer through his representation of the "feminine mystique" by painting the woman's face in such a way as to obscure her feelings. On the surface, it seems like she is enjoying herself, but subtle hints like the way her hand seems to be pulling away his arm and her facial expressions make us doubt ourselves. I think Klimt wanted us to never know and always be guessing, to keep with the theme of the female mystique.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

17 August--Haus der Musik

I can’t believe there are already only 10 more days until class ends. Time has gone by so fast here. Today we experienced an important part of Viennese culture: Music. From Mozart to Strauss and Schubert, many musicians came to Vienna over the years and contributed to the growth of Viennese music culture.

To study this, we went to the Haus der Musik, a museum dedicated to the science of sound in addition to housing a museum about a few of the influential composers who passed through Vienna. There were entire rooms dedicated to the composers that had contributed to the Viennese classical music scene: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, and Strauss. It was interesting to learn how each composer had altered the public’s perception of music. Mahler, for example, was the director of the Viennese Philharmonic and is largely responsible for much of our modern concert etiquette, like dimming the house lights at the start of a performance or not letting latecomers in until a piece has finished. Schubert aided the growth of Hausmusik, where individuals would gather in somebody’s house where the piano was the center of the party. This growth of Hausmusik accompanied Metternich’s reforms to transform Vienna into a quasi-police state, when Austria feared another ‘French revolution’ would happen in Austria. At this time, there were 52 piano makers in Vienna, compared to 1 today. We also saw relics from composers and conductors past, like Leonard Bernstein’s tux and Richard Strauss’s baton. The museum of sound wing of the house dealt with how sound is perceived by the brain. It also allowed us to superimpose sounds from everyday life, like a U-bahn station, a park, a baby crying, etc., to create a sort of dissonant choir. There was also one wall with several earpieces, through which one could hear different sounds a human body might make, from coughing to grinding teeth all the way to farting. In another room, you and another individual could compose your own waltz by throwing dice (not quite sure how that one worked). After, you even had the option to buy the score to the piece you had just written (but it cost 7 euros).

We also had the opportunity to watch the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform several pieces—via DVD of course. It was really interesting to see how little they needed the conductor. At one point, he even turned around and began conducting the audience. I appreciated being able to see such professionalism and musicianship, coming from an orchestral background myself. After this video, we got the opportunity to conduct the orchestra…with an infrared baton, of course. The orchestra would play exactly as fast as you conducted them. You could choose from a selection of pieces, including An Der Schoenen Blauen Donau waltz, the Radzesky (?) march, and Hungarian Dance no. 5.

This place is dedicated to the composers and their music that helped put Vienna on the map, culturally. Coming from a musical background, I was excited to see the composers who had shaped the face of music to what it is today.

Deutsches Tagewort: schmecken--expression of taste. "Mir schmeckt diese Speise nicht, aber ich esse sie trotzdem"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

16. August--Bike excursion

Today was day 3 of a three day weekend. After getting up around midday, I went grocery shopping. Here the milk containers only come in 1 Liter sizes, meaning I need to buy at least one container every day. People go grocery shopping here every day, and the food here does not have preservatives in it. I left a loaf of bread in a cabinet, and now it is completely moldy. Delicious.

Today we decided to try out Vienna’s public bicycle program. Without any real plan in mind (this seems to be a recurring theme in all of my day trips), we took the U-bahn to the Danube canal, to one of the many locations. Apparently, the rental process is supposed to be easy, but we spent a good forty five minutes trying to figure it out. Apparently you have to create an account with your credit card, which is then accessed every time you use it to unlock a bike. I am glad I set up a temporary bank account for this trip. I don’t like the idea of my debit card information being easily accessible on some random European computer terminal. Eventually, we figured it out and hit the streets. We made our way to the bank of the Danube and then crossed over to the Danube island. The Danube island separates the two sections of the Danube. One is used more for shipping and transportation, and the other is used for recreation. We biked along the island for a while and stopped at a café for a snack. We continued along the Danube until we came to another U bahn station, which we took to the bicycle return station. Vienna's public transportation system makes going anywhere in the city easy. Our tickets for the U Bahn also counted towards the streetcars and buses, so we were not short of transportation options. I think it would be more of a hassle to have a car in a city like this. Gas here is around 1.2 Euros per liter, which works out to about 5.6 dollars per gallon. This price is insanely high for me, coming from America. This is probably why Europe has a lot more smaller cars than America. I have not seen many parking lots in my walking tours of the city, so I think it is more convenient to travel by U bahn or streetcar.

After we had returned the bikes, we went to Karmalitermarkt, a marketplace. Because of the rain, however, many places were closed. I did manage to get some fruit there, however, getting some much needed vitamin C. Later that night we tried our luck at the Siebenstern brauerei, this time with success. I tried the chili beer, which was a mistake. It actually tasted like chili, and my mouth was burning for the next ten minutes.

I recently read an article in the New York Times about an art exhibition in Vienna featuring propagandist works from North Korea. These paintings depict North Korea as the happiest place on earth. I thought this was strange because the artists themselves were forbidden to leave Korea. I think the fact that Vienna is considered a neutral nation is one of he main reasons why these paintings were exhibited here. This would never have happened in other countries like the US. I think exhibitions like this are good because they show what the country is like on the inside--or at least how the government wants the country to look like, in which case one can infer the situation for people on the inside.

15 August-- Kunsthistorisches Museum Part II

I knew today I was completely over my jet lag, because I woke up at 12:30. The internet wasn’t working today, meaning that I had an excuse that I hadn’t posted my blog on time.

Today, I went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum again. This time around, I was looking to see if I could spot the differences in Protestant and Catholic art. This is easier said than done. Most of the art in the museum was Catholic art, meaning it was difficult to sort through all the baroque art to find something that wasn’t Catholic. The Holy Roman Empire was considered ‘holy’ because the leaders worked with the Pope and the Catholic Church and considered themselves defenders of the Catholic faith. Therefore, there are not many Protestant paintings present. Most of the protestant works I found were portraits. In this museum there is a large collection of portraits by Rembrandt. These are portraits of individuals not of royalty or religion, but of merchants and ordinary citizens. Because Protestants did not know if they were to be saved by God, they would work hard to succeed (material prosperity is a sign of divine favor). This resulted in a new class of individuals with enough wealth to commission art for themselves. Normally, an artist would be commissioned by the Church or by the current rulers, but Protestants began being able to commission works for themselves, opening up a totally new market for artists.

(<--Protestant art)

(Catholic Art-->)

If I had the ability to summon Ocean’s eleven and steal a painting, I would definitely steal Anthonis van Dyck’s Capture of Samson. I really like the interplay of emotions on Samsom’s and his wife’s faces. Even though I am not religious, I can appreciate this work. It also is an example of one characteristic of Catholic art that was very prevalent at this time: that art should be easy to understand. For catholics, paintings should convey a clear, direct message so the illiterate peasants who came to the church for mass would accept whatever the Church said as reality, because they could convey ideas to them in a way that they could easily understand. In this painting it is so easy to read the sorrow on Samson's face as he gazes at his traitorous wife. The artist of this painting did an excellent job conveying the sadness on both figures' faces.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14. August-- Kirche am Steinhof

Today was Saturday, the second weekend and marking roughly the halfway point of the trip. Tired from yesterday, I decided I would take it easy today and go look around the Kunsthistorisches Museum again, because the first time I had forgotten my camera. On the subway, coincidentally, I ran into Kathy and her gang (her partner Louise and her longtime friend Hans-Joerg). They invited me to come with them to another church, which I accepted.

We went to Steinhof, a psychiatric hospital with a long history. Otto Wagner, who is known for his contributions to the Jugendstil architectural movement, designed many of the buildings in this complex around the late 19th and early 20th century. His architectural style reflects the saying ‘form should fit function.’

Our first stop was a museum dedicated to the mistreatment and murder of those deemed “unusable”

by the 3rd Reich—mentally handicapped individuals who were sent to camps or killed in Steinhof itself. This museum showed how the line between racism and science was blurred, with disastrous results. We saw propaganda against the mentally ill,

and the bogus scientific charts used to determine if a person was worthy of marriage or reproduction.

In the Steinhof complex, we went next to the Kirche am Steinhof. This church is built in a very modern style and constructed in a way to keep control of mentally disturbed patients who would cause trouble in the church. It is very open, leaving little to no space that is not immediately visible. This is useful when patients go to the church so the guards can keep an eye on them. Also, the walls, which lack the ornate designs found in other churches in Vienna, are purposely made easy to clean up to a certain height. The floor gradually slants upwards to draw attention to the altar, something that is unique to this church alone. The back of the church is around 25 centimeters lower than the front of the church. A short wall separates the altar from the rows of pews, something that would not be found in other churches, and there are no columns or anywhere someone could possibly hide. There are even open confession boxes, once again so the guards can keep an eye on the patients.

This church was built with only stones, glass, and gold. There are no paintings, but rather intricate mosaics and stained glass images around the church. The mosaic at the front of the church shows Jesus and many saints around him. Those on Jesus’s right are all patron saints of the mentally ill. Emperor Franz Joseph, who had commissioned the church, refused to visit it, and instead sent Franz Ferdinand to see what it was like. He hated the modern architectural style and asked Wagner why he hadn’t built it in the old baroque style of churches To this Wagner replied that people don’t use outdated weapons for war, they change them over the years, and the same thing goes for churches.

After the tour, we tried to find a Heuriger for dinner, with no luck, so we settled on a Biergarten instead. I had Schweinsbraten and was a little adventurous in trying the Zipferl Rot Bier. I’m still not sure what that was, but it was good. On the way back, we were asked to show our tickets on the Strassenbahn. That is exciting, because it never happens.

13. August

Today we meandered through the Viennese countryside on our way back from the Alps. On our way back, we stopped by Schloss Forchtenstein, owned by the Esterhazy family in the 16th century when the Burgenland was a part of Hungary. Back then, Hungary was twice as big as it is today. In 1920, the Treaty of Versailles made Hungary smaller and gave control of the area that this castle was in over to Austria. From one side of the castle, you can actually see Hungary.

The interior courtyard of this castle is lined with paintings of Roman emperors and Holy Roman Emperors. This goes along with the idea that the Holy Roman Empire saw itself as an extension of the old Roman Empire. Also in this courtyard is a statue of Paul I, whom Emperor Leopold elevated from count to prince.

This castle houses the largest personal weapons collection in all of Austria. We saw the glass beads used as ammunition for the cannons and the different steps in making a rifle. Mortars from this era needed 7 kg of gunpowder and fired what was pretty much a basketball shaped rock. Many of

the weapons were produced there, with the others coming from defeated enemies. We saw glass grenades and the bags used to carry them. Carrying a bag of glass grenades while charging into battle or riding a horse does not sound like the smartest idea. Armies in this time were private regiments funded by the government. There still was no national army. We also saw the chair used for executions. Here, executions were done with the unfortunate individual sitting upright in a chair. The executioner would swing a large sword horizontally, and hopefully decapitate him on the first blow. There were many marks on the chair where the executioner had missed. In addition to this, there was a piece of paper describing how much various executions would cost. The castle also has armor from the 30 Year’s War, when tall soldiers would get paid more than shorter ones. It was interesting to see all of these old weapons and to see how the armies we have been reading about were outfitted.

This castle also has one of the deepest wells in Austria, at 142 meters. It took 10 years to complete and is made with the blood and sweat of Turkish POWs. You get an almost perfect echo. We all sang Happy Birthday to Amanda and dropped a coin in the well. On the way back, we stopped by the Liechtenstein Castle, which was closed for renovations, but we could still see the façade.