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Glimpses of Post-War Vienna

post-war vienna

For some glimpses into post War Vienna, your SV explorer looked through the period articles covering the city in The New Yorker magazine. Most dispatches compare Vienna to Berlin. Vienna fares slightly better in all. The economic situation is dire in the first letter from February 1946. The black market is flourishing. Most looked after job is to be a driver for the Americans. Two thirds of the 1,8 million population of the city is made up of women, some of whom start to marry the Americans. People complain constantly: too little food and fuel, too many Russians. The Vienna State Opera burned for days and the Burgtheater was destroyed – all other theatres and opera houses are ‘open and doing excellent business. And they are heated, unlike Berlin’. Schwarzenbergplatz was re-named Stalinplatz.

In another letter, in 1948, the mood  is slightly improved, helped also by the Viennese new wine, which appears to be more readily available. The locals drink it and ‘wait for the occupation to finish, advancing possible days’. They start the evening believing that the Allies might retreat in one year or so. Towards the morning, it is more a matter of days. (the occupation ended in 1955)

The next letter comes in October, 1950. The journalist, reminds his readers back home about Vienna ‘a city islanded 90 miles behind the Iron Curtain’. He finishes the letter with a joke that sums it all up: There are three passengers who get into a tram which circles the Ring and goes towards the Danube. The first asks for a ticket to Schwarzenbergplatz and he is corrected: it is now called  Stalinplatz. The second asks for a ticket to Reichs Bruecke and he is corrected too: it is the Red Army Brucke. The third one, trying to avoid a mistake, asks for a ticket to the Volga. (Radu)

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