|Anton Dominik Fernkorn, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen, 1860-65. Heldenplatz, Vienna|
Heldenplatz was intended as the ceremonial parade ground of Austria-Hungary, but it was never finished. The big, open square is dominated by the Hofburg palace and two striking equestrian statues, featuring military heroes of the Imperial army. Above, standing in the middle of open ground, is a depiction of Archduke Charles, who defeated the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1809, and was immediately elevated to the Habsburg pantheon as a result. Ultimately, though, Heldenplatz is remembered in Austria as the site where Adolf Hitler announced the Anschluss- the union of Germany and Austria- in March 1938. the status of Austria, as willing participants in Hitler's insanity for the following seven years, or as the first "innocent victim" of Nazi occupation, has produced claim and counter claim amongst historians ever since, and is still a rather uncomfortable issue for many citizens here.
|Rachel Whiteread, Holocaust Memorial, 1995-2000, Judenplatz|
|Painting by Alois Frankl, Art Forum, Judenplatz.|
From the claustrophobic scene of his rounding up in Bratislava (above) through to some pictures of unimaginable torture and degradation of his fellow inmates, this is a very difficult exhibition to view- but compelling. Photographs of Frankl in the thirties, just after his marriage, show him as a handsome and debonair young man; an official portrait taken in the later forties shows him a little restored, but with sunken eyes, ringed by dark circles- a look that he apparently kept for the rest of his life. Images actually based on the death camps are, unsurprisingly, few in comparison with the written accounts of survivors, so this is an important show which deserves as wide an audience as possible.
|Adolf Frankl, Faces that Still Haunt Me, c. 1960. Frankl is the face in the third row from the bottom, fourth from the left.|
I also noticed that, in keeping with both Geneva and Zürich, Vienna is a city of small dogs. Every third person seems to come with an extra fabric limb, at the end of which is a quivering pom-pom of moist-eyed yap. I suspect most of the global population of Chihuahua, Pekinese, Pomeranians and Maltese terriers live in an arc between the Franco-Swiss border and here - the kinds of critters that just aren't taken seriously back home.
I'm footsore, having made it round both the Belvedere Palace and the Kunsthalle today. I'm not writing about it until tomorrow, though; I'm off to find some dinner, and a pint.