60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 6 August 1952:

We must say goodbye to Vienna today. I was up early packing and it was such a job that I was running late today even before I got turned around. With our bags downstairs, LO, Alene, and I caught the trolley downtown instead of waiting for the bus. We had a few schillings to squander and were eager to shop.

In fact, I had 160 schillings or so to spend. We got off near the opera and inquired our way to the Modern Art Gallery. The man wanted us to take another trolley, but it was only a couple blocks so we declined. We stopped in the shops on the way down the street. I found a black elastic belt to buy for 40 schillings. The Modern Art Gallery called the Sezession, was small and contained a few interesting pictures, but many others which I thought were messes or not appealing at all.

At 9:45 a.m. we headed back to the Natural History Museum to join the rest of the group. I picked up a picture book of Wien on the way for 21.60 schillings. I had to check my camera at the door, because I didn’t dunk it soon enough. We really made a flying trip through the museum. The tour started out with the birds, butterflies, snakes, lizards, big animals and back around to the monkeys. It was frustrating to have so little time to spend here. We rushed through the rocks, meteors and precious stones section. We whizzed back to the bus just in time to leave Vienna. That museum is kind of blurred in my mind, but I guess you can say I was inside.

We crossed the Russian Zone again today, but no one checked us going out of Vienna. When we reached the bridge before Linz, a Russian came on the bus to check our grey cards. He looked about 16 years old and seemed quite friendly, but one can never tell with these Russians. We’ve heard lots of different unnerving stories about them. On the other side of the river we talked to the Russian guards and got a drink of water out of a big can in the shack.

I took pictures of the bridge and I caught sight of a Russian soldier standing on the bridge. The guards informed me that he wasn’t supposed to be there. Both U.S. and Russians soldiers weren’t supposed to cross over the bridge. A couple of soldiers had crossed over and had been held overnight once. Two kids of our group went over the bridge and stayed but came dragging back about six minutes late.

In Linz, Austria we had a little time to spend while we waited for Hermine. We arrived early, so we had a lunch stop. The cafe inside was off limits to us and the other cafe was too expensive. So we bought some fruit and cakes and I spent my last schillings, my last small change anyway. I still have $4 worth or 100 schillings that I anticipate cashing at the border.

Vienna People Saddened That City Has Been So Rudely Dismembered

(Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of letters written by Mrs. Afton A. Hansen, who is touring Europe with a group of students.)

Dear Friends;
With the melodies of Vienna Woods and Blue Danube in our hearts, we came to beautiful old Vienna, the capital city of Austria, in the heart of Europe. The trees of the woods grow and the Danube waters flow endlessly on, but the new songs are different than when Strauss gave to the world the song of the stream and the melody of the leaves. Today the Angels Are on Holiday in Vienna is a new song.

The Viennese love their city and are saddened that it is so rudely dismembered. The Blue Danube serves as a shining knife in a open hand, with Russian force on the opposite bank.

In riding through the city, we are told which part is the British zone, the French zone, the Russian zone and the American zone as well as the International zone. We see large buildings; some are in ruins and some are impressive and beautiful. The Austrian House of Parliament must be the most beautiful in the world. We see shops full of tempting wares (much exquisite petit point) and wide streets and squares crowded with people among who are a few of the very poor of this world.

Russian Zone
Into the Russian zone we ride and see the streets almost deserted of people, the shop doors closed and very few advertisements. We are not allowed to use our cameras here. We feel as sad as this street looks.

There are parts of the city in the Russian zone which do not look so formidable. The Pater, an amusement park, with its large Ferris wheel, a roller coaster and many other unique surprises and interests. Another spot of interest is the Russian bulletin board in front of the Kommandtura (Government office building) which was previously the city’s Board of Education building. News of the day in words and pictures give the story of germ warfare in Korea, pictures of Industrial workers and school children. There were books written by Lenin, Stallin, Marx, Engels, as well as a few novels—one entitled The Way to Love. On the front of the building is the Russian flag and a huge red star.

Some of our girls did attempt to speak to a couple of the Russian soldiers but with little success. Stories are told of the sad fate of soldiers who talk to Americans.

We have wondered about this when so many of them are walking about the streets of Vienna and elsewhere. Stories of Russian cruelty are persistent. It is said that all along the border there is a three mile strip which has been cleared of inhabitants. Anyone seen moving in these streets or through the trees is shot. No lacy curtain here. I do have the name and address of a fine lady from the east zone whose family is gone and who is anxious to come to Utah to work if someone will sponsor her.

Happy Meeting
A happy experience came to me the day I stood not far from the Red Star. A taxi drove up with a very fine looking lady and gentleman in the back seat. The lady spoke to me in German and I answered in German saying “I understand you not.” The taxi driver said, “Speak to her in American,” whereupon we both laughed heartily.

Getting out of the car she said;
“Where in America are you from?”
“From Utah,” I relpied.
“From Utah?” She added with greater interest. “Where in Utah?”
“From Provo,” I said expectantly.
“From Provo,” she said, her voice increasing in its rich fullness. “The President of our University is from Provo.”
“Well,” said I, with crescendo in my voice, “Are you from California?”
“No,” she beamed, “I’m from Montclair, N.J., and De Partridge is our president.”
“Well, well,” said I — and there were two beams. “I used to try to wash that man’s face when he was a young rascal in the Partridge home.”

We were good friends from then on and I enjoyed a nice chat with Prof. and Mrs. Frederic H. Young. Dr. Young is lecturing in Europe and has written a book on The Philosophy of Henry James Sr., which sound intensely interesting and for which Mrs. Young designed the cover.

Almost anyone will say that you haven’t seen Vienna until you taste the flavour of Vienna chicken salad and pastry. Seated at small tables in Kurtsalon patio, we listened to the enchanting melodies of Pier Gyat Suit and watched the clouds and shadows slowly cross the golden moon in eclipse. It was a delicate taste of a grand old city.

Part of Vienna’s enchantment is her past, and we meet her dead heroes again and again in our walks. Vienna was and is the musicians’ holy city — where they lived and many of them are buried. In public squares and park, we see statues of Schubert, Strauss, Hadyn, Beethoven, Brahms, Gluck, Liszt, Mahler, Schuman, Wagner and Bruckner.

Woman Ruler
Statues and monuments remind us of their rulers, one of which was Empress Maria Theresa, who lived 1740-1780. It seemed such a short time for her to have accomplished so much. She was a highly capable woman, who built up and unified the Hapsburg Empire, directed battles and made treaties, skillfully played in European politics and blithely produced sixteen sons and daughters in her spare time and made judicious marriages for them.

In Schonbrum Schloss (palace) Maria Theresa is everywhere to be seen. In the gilded council chambers; in the ball room where she liked to dance and play cards with her favorite generals; in the music room where her children took their music lessons and where Mozart gave his first concert. She is enthroned in the blue ceiling frescoes and painted with her family around her. In this palace are 149 rooms with 139 kitchens.

The House of Hapsburg ruled in Austria from 1218 to 1918 during which time much of the cultural development was accomplished. The University of Vienna was founded in 1365.

The entire Hapsburg family of which there are only two living, are buried in a crypt in Vienna, an impressive building, cared for by the Cauchin Monks. Their coffins are adorned with elaborate statues in marble and bronze — a fitting memorial to the illustrious family who were responsible for the development of the country for more than 700 years.

Much indeed could be said about the palaces and castles in Austria. Rulers in these European countries seemed to vie with each other in buildings of wealth, magnificence and splendor, which today was a source of pleasure and amazement as well as of great educational value. We can be sure that what the Austrians did accomplish was done with cheerful hearts.

Afton A. Hansen

A few miles farther was the border from Austria back into Germany. It was 10-15 kilometers before Passau. With no cash on hand there was a big delay. Ummm! We arrived at our hotel about dinner time and ran into another group of Americans. After talking we had a delicious dinner and later went for a walk.

On our jaunt we ran into the other group of Americans and found out they were going into Vienna the next day. So I took the opportunity to sell my 100 schillings for 4 dollars. We started to walk down past the snack bar. Then the rain drove us back to the hotel. My room was cute with an adjoining bath. So my roomies and I set up a bathing business. We got a key and by the time we all got a bath the fee had been quite nominal.


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