60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 4 August 1952:

In the morning we ate breakfast next door at a café which was off limits to all military and civilian personnel. The bus tour started around 9 a.m. and we were off to Vienna where the population was around two million. We drove past former barracks that were now the Austrian police headquarters. Then we observed the famous Ringstrassse, a circular road surrounding part of Vienna where a wall ran around the inner city.

Our tour continued past the stock exchange, the biggest private Votive Church by Vidal, and the University of Vienna. A monument of the German composer, Beethoven, was across the street from the University of Vienna. Soon after was the house of Franz and Ferdinand Schubert, two more prominent Austrian composers. The town seemed to have a lot of Gothic architecture everywhere we looked. We proceeded by the folk garden, House of Parliament, monument to the three founders of Austrian Republic, Russian military command, Natural History Museum, Art History Museum, and a monument of Empress Theresa, sovereign ruler of Austria. The guide pointed out the Burgdorway entrance to Herse Square and Palace where Hitler had spoken once.

Then we continued on with the Academy of Fine Arts where there was a big sign that said “America Go Home.” At the Karlsplatz square there was a statue of another German composer, Brahams. We learned that Franz Schubert lived here in Vienna in 1820. We passed by Stalin Square where the offices of the Allied Commission were located. As we passed a Russian motor pool, I waved at a soldier and he just glared back at me. Gee! And the Austrian people have to put up with this all the time.

We ventured over to a Vienna concert house, Kursaal Palace, where there was another monument of Beethoven which stated “You can or you can’t”. Next was the city park where there was a monument of the “Waltz King” who was better known as Johann Strauss. Next we passed the University of Arts and Crafts that displayed a Minerva mosaic and oddly included a war office. I observed a monument to a soldier with the rank of Field Marshall. Soon after that was the Palace Urania, a public educational institute and observatory in Vienna.

Then we crossed the Danube Canal which used to be part of the Danube river. This second district of Vienna was included in the Russian zone. We drove past the house where Johann Straus lived and composed Blue Danube Waltz. The house was old and beaten up. Then I spied a great big Ferris wheel that had been constructed in 1893. It was used in the film Third Man and was 264 feet tall.

As we continued on we saw a carnival and railway which had a famous route, one that zigzaged past the chilling canyon of the Devil’s Nose. War damage was still apparent everywhere, but the Russian’s restoration had little building going on from what I could see.

The tour continued past the Red Russian Monument, St. Francis of Assisi Church, suspension bridge over the Danube, and Vienna woods which made a half circle all around the city. I snapped a picture of the sign “America Go Home.” We went across the canal just before going back to the restaurant, Liebe Augustine, in the first international sector of Vienna. In an important business district there was a monument to Johannes Gutenberg recognizing his contribution of the moveable type printing press and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.

As the day wore on we proceeded past St. Stephen’s Cathedral, new Market Square, and provincial monument where Habsburg, ruler of Austria, was buried. At the Imperial Crypt there was an embalmed body in each sarcophagi. A new part of the Imperial Crypt had buried the Habsburg Loraine family.

Buried there were Joseph I and wife (oldest sarcophaga), Archduke Maxmillian, Emperor Joseph II with a simple copper coffin and his two wives, Emperor Charles VI, his wife Empress Christine, father of Maria Theresa, Empress Maria Theresa, and her husband. Maria Theresa and her husband’s coffin weighed 23 tons and was quite ornate. It was ordered 20 years before their deaths with carvings that represented events in their life. Their statues were on top with smaller statues around them representing their children. Maria had sixteen children and one of her daughters was Marie Antoinette. Her children were all buried there except for Marie Antoinette, who was buried in France, and Maria Christine, who was buried in another church with her husband. Included in the sarcophaga was a friend of Maria’s who was not of the royal family. Maria had promised she could be buried there.

Also, buried there were Emperor Francis I, Empress Francis Josephine’s parents, Emperor Ferdinand I, Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, and wife of Napoleon I. Napoleon’s sons had been transported to Rome under Hitler’s order and finally were put to rest in Les Invalides, Paris. There was a silver sarcophagi that contained the Spanish side line of Habsburg family: Francis Joseph, his wife, and Empress Elizabeth who was assassinated at age 60, were buried there as well. There was a room reserved for the last branch of the family of Emperor Charles and a monument to Archduke Alberto. As we finished I bought a book for six schillings. They were also selling holy water from Lourdes where Saint Bernadette was supposed to have had a vision.

The tour proceeded to the winter Imperial Habsburg residence, St. Peter’s Church, and St. Augustine Church, where the Habsburg family had had their weddings. Next was a Black Plague Memorial or Column of Holy Trinity and then we circled back to the St. Stephens Cathedral. Then we caught sight of the Vienna State Opera House which was finished in 1869. I noticed a building across the street that was in complete ruins with only ruble left. While we drove past the Academy of Fine Arts there was a monument to Leon Schiller, who was a composer, writer, and director with the Academy of Fine Arts. And there was a monument to Johann Goethe, a German writer, on the other side of the building.

Later there was an Artists Museum and Mariahilfstrasse that was one of the most important and longest streets in Vienna. I could see the American zone on the right and the French zone on the left. I spied another monument of Joseph Haydn, an Austrian composer, in front of the Mariahilfr Church. At West Bahnhof there was a new building where the old one stood. In the 15th district of Vienna the French zone was located. As we passed the Technical Museum for Industrial Trade construction workers were repairing the streets.

Our next adventure included a tour at the Schönbrunn Palace. It was a former imperial 1400 room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. Inside the park we had a guide to tell us the details of the Palace. And there was a Neptune fountain that people could walk all around, an Egyptian Obelisk, and a private park that was located on one side for the Empress.

Once we got inside the palace I observed a billiard hall with a mahogany table and a private audience room. It had original walnut furniture, inlaid floors, and a Tyrolean sculptured gilded wood chandelier. A domed writing room had beautiful white Rococo architecture decorated with a kind of porcelain. Portraits adorned the walls of Emperor Francis Joseph, his wife, Marie Antoinette, Maria Carolina, queen of Italy, daughter of Maria Theresa, and children of Ludwig II. One silk cover wall had handwriting on it.

We ventured into the bedroom of Emperor Francis Joseph, who had had the longest reign in Europe. The room was quite simple compared to Ludwig II’s room. The combined bedrooms were in blue brocade and next was a sitting room of the empress in Viennese Rococo style. In that room I noticed a Bohemian crystal chandelier, portrait of Emperor Francis, and Chinese porcelain that Maria Theresa had collected. Boy! The floors were squeaky.

The next room was the Rosa room which had landscapes on the canvas paintings by the Austrian painter Joseph Rosa. Also, there was a Chinese round closet with double doors on each side which was used as a sound proof secret council room. A table came up through the floor for the secret sessions. Then we observed an oval Chinese closet and blue salon. The Million room came next with inlaid rosewood from 13 a.d., Persian miniatures from 2 a.d., and one petit point needlework done by Maria Theresa herself. There were chairs that represented the different seasons of the year, and portraits of a wedding and Spanish writing school. Next on the tour was a big gallery and Hall of Mirrors. Overall we went through 45 rooms.

After the palace we drove into the British zone and Vienna 12th District. There was a Mozart Café decorated with a Third Man theme. Our group lost the mob and found lunch at a little cafe on our own. Then we browsed through a book store and were back to the bus by 2 p.m. We saw a staircase leading to the upper highway into the 9th district.

Then off to the 19th district with the Heilioperstadt Francis Joseph Railway Station. One of the biggest apartment houses was built by the municipality of Vienna that included a school and everything else needed inside the apartment houses. There were more new apartment buildings and a quaint church erected in 10 a.d. Soon after was a house where Beethoven composed Pastorale movement in 1817. There was a courtyard inside with grapevines making an arbor. A wine brewery was here indicated by a green bush on a stick in front of the house.

The tour continued over to Gruinszig, a wine growing village. The main road led up to the Vienna woods with vineyards covering the hills. At Kohlenbergstrassse there was a sun bathing place and swimming pool. People were picnicking in the Vienna woods with oak, beech, and elm trees. The last mountain of Vienna Woods was next to the Danube river and then the Belvedere Castle. It was cloudy and I probably have rotten pictures of these sights. The kids were taking pictures by the Russian zone sign.

The city of Vienna was founded approximately 100 years after Christ by the Romans. Present population of Vienna was two million. Next was an elevated railway that entered the 9th district of Vienna, Franz Schubert’s birthplace and the location of a new museum.

On the way back to the hotel, we got out downtown to look for a leather case. After no luck we went back to the hotel. I had a yearning to go to Wein Pratau for a special evening. So I paid 17 schillings for a bath where I washed my hair. Then we messed around and got dressed up. I wore Alene’s clothes and went visiting in our costumes for some fun.

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