Today’s post is dedicated to my former colleague and fellow blogger Kristen, who passed away last week. She was the author of Sushi and Strudel which is an excellent guide through the jungle of restaurants in Vienna, and I hope this blog will stay up and running for a good while longer even if no new posts will be published.
After she quit working up at the uni, she slowly drifted away from us. She would occasionally show up at events though, sparkling and beautiful, telling us new stories about her beloved dog Bode, and whatever she and her husband had been up to lately. She was an inspiration to many of us… smart, beautiful, newly-wed and on her way to becoming the model home maker she seemed destined to be. But then news came through last Wednesday that she had passed. As I went to the memorial service this morning it was raining, and mostly grey. How appropriate…
It’s the first time that I’ve known someone at my age (or younger even!) that have passed away. It’s quite eye-opening, and scary at the same time. I still can’t come to grips with the fact that I’ll never bump into her again… anywhere. Ever. It’s funny to me how time seems to have stood still every time you meet up with someone you know, but as soon as you know you’re never ever going to meet up with them again, all that time seems to come rushing back and create an abyss, that you can’t ever cross. And then you wonder why you let time pass so easily, without resisting it…
Goodbye Kristen. May you rest in peace.
The hotel was built for the Vienna World Exhibition and was designed by Carl Schumann and Ludwig Tischler. The four-story building was richly decorated with Corinthian columns, caryatids and atlases. The inner court was glassed over and had a richly decorated dining hall. After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany in March 1938, the hotel was confiscated by the Gestapo who made it their headquarters. Prisoners, especially Jews, were brought to the hotel to be interrogated, tortured and killed. During the war the building was hit by a bomb and burned down and ultimately the ruins were torn down to eliminate any memory of the building. In 1951 a memorial stone was erected by concentration camp survivors, which was then replaced in 1985 with a bigger monument financed by the city of Vienna. The monument consists ofgranite blocks from the quarry of the former concentration camp at Mauthausen and a bronze statue symbolising a survivor. The inscription comes from the president of the association of the survivors of the concentration camps Wilhelm Steiner and reads: “Here stood the House of the Gestapo. To those who believed in Austria it was hell. To many it was the gates to death. It sank into ruins just like the ‘Thousand Year Reich’. But Austria was resurrected and with her our dead, the immortal victims.”
Such plates can be found all over the city, but mostly in districts with a large representation of Jews before WW2. The plates are put down on the pavement outside houses, showing the names of those who lived there and who were exterminated (bad word I know, yet close to the truth) during the war, mostly in concentration camps. It also shows the date that they were deported, and which camp they were sent to. These plates are on Mariahilferstrasse in the 6th District.
I quite like the plates. For me, they help make history real.