VIENNESE FAMISHED AND WAR-TRAUMATISED CHILDREN AFTER WORLD WAR I & WORLD WAR II & THEIR POST-WAR RECREATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN AUSTRIA AND ABROAD: e.g. THE CHILDREN RELIEF PROGRAMMES “I BAMBINI DI VIENNA”, “RÄDDA BARNEN”, “PORTUGAL CHILDREN”, “SWISS CHILDREN”.

Introduction

During and after the First and Second World War the food supply was severely hampered in Vienna, which resulted in famine, undernourishment and malnutrition-related diseases, especially among the Viennese young. Children and young people of impoverished and not so well-off families were most affected and consequently suffered from rachitis, tuberculosis and osseous tuberculosis. After the First World War measurements of Viennese apprentices of every age group showed that they weighed 10 kg less than the same age group before the war and their hight was 10 cm less as well. Already during the war poor undernourished Viennese children were sent on recreational holidays to the country and in 1917 the Viennese municipal councillor Heinrich Löwenstein organised a recreational stay in Switzerland for a few children. In May and July 1918 72,000 Viennese children were sent to farmers in western Hungary – then part of the Habsburg Empire – via the “Kaiser Karl Wohlfahrtswerk”, an imperial charity. 90 per cent of the children were more or less malnourished. Unfortunately, the positive effect of this summer holiday dwindled away within a few weeks. After the end of World War I and the break-down of the Habsburg Empire, its capital city Vienna was cut off from its traditional food supply chains and the newly established small Republic of Austria was destitute. During the disastrous winter of 1918/1919 the population of Vienna and other big cities in Austria was starving, most of all the young. The international press reported about the atrocious conditions under which the poor Viennese children had to live. Men like Max Winter with “Expeditions into the Darkest Vienna” and Emil Kläger with “Across the Viennese Quarters of Destitution and Crime” had already earlier in the new century pointed to the excruciating conditions under which the Viennese poor were scraping by. The international community was so shocked that in 1919 the first children relief programmes were launched, which not only provided the Viennese children with urgently needed food, clothing and medication, but organised recreational stays abroad as well. In 1919 13,366 Viennese children were invited to Switzerland, Italy and Southern Germany for a few weeks. From 1920 on more countries joined in the effort and financed longer recreational stays abroad from several months up to a year or more. These recreational holidays at foster families’ or in children’s homes abroad were organised by non-governmental charities, such as the Red Cross or the Caritas. Between 1918 and 1924 312,255 Viennese children were sent to the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania and other European countries. The children were registered for such a stay abroad at school, at the local parish or the youth welfare office and then medically examined. They were assembled at the train stations in Vienna, where they were equipped with a little cardboard sign around their neck, which stated their names and the names and addresses of their future foster parents. Already during the long train rides, they received provisions because they only had a small backpack with a change of underwear and a second pair of trousers or a second dress or coat with them. Sometimes the foster parents invited the children a second or more times to come back and stay with them, which resulted in life-long friendships. When the children arrived in their country of destination, they did not understand a word of the language spoken there (except when they came to a German-speaking canton in Switzerland or to Southern Tyrol or Southern Germany), but when they returned, they had mostly forgotten their mother tongue. It is amazing that rather poor countries such as Italy and Sweden offered generous humanitarian help to the destitute Viennese children and that is the reason why one focus of this article is on the post-World War I children emergency programmes “I bambini di Vienna” of Italy and “Rädda Barnen” of Sweden.

The so-called “children’s trains” initiatives were terminated in 1924 and only 20 years later the Viennese children were suffering under the same devastating conditions again, aggravated by the trauma of bomb attacks and Nazi persecution, until finally in April 1945 the Second World War was ended, the Nazi regime defeated and the city of Vienna liberated by the Allied Forces. Yet in 1945 the food supply of Vienna collapsed completely once more and the especially harsh winter of 1946/47 further aggravated the situation for the children in the city. The Viennese writer who had to emigrate to England when the Nazis took over, Robert Neumann, published his novel “The Children of Vienna” in his English exile in 1946. The book was translated into 25 languages and Neumann himself later published it in German. This novel portrays the destiny of poor children in Vienna in the days and weeks after the end of the war. In a humorous, bitter-sarcastic style he tells the story of six children living in the cellar of a bombed-out house in Vienna, trying to scrape by a living. He describes their special art of survival from the children’s point of view and tells of adults who try to interfere with them, such as a black US army pastor, who wants to send them to Switzerland, but whose plans fail, when the Russians take over the administration of their quarter. This novel raised international awareness for the plight of the Viennese impoverished children after World War II.

Post-World War I

During the First World War Viennese children whose health was affected by the consequences of the war were sent on recreational holidays, as already mentioned in the introduction. The priests in the country were asked to appeal to rural parishes to accept poor and sick urban children and care for them, cosset them and nurse them back to health for some weeks. The organisations who tried to set up a structure for recreational holidays for Viennese children in need who came from poor families or lived in slums were underfunded and inefficient. Only very few children profited from such recreational stays. In 1917 it was decided to set up a youth welfare office in Vienna, which initially included Lower Austria. 14 branch offices were opened in Vienna and its surroundings; the organisation of recreational holidays was one of their tasks, but little was done because of a drastic lack of funds after the war had ended in 1918. That’s when foreign countries stepped in. Tens of thousands of Viennese children were saved from hunger, sickness and death by these recreational stays abroad. In 1919 the youth welfare office sent 13,366 Viennese children to Switzerland, Southern Tyrol, Italy and Southern Germany for several weeks. Until 1924 the Netherlands welcomed 28,523 Austrian children, for example. The aim was, of course, to nurse the Viennese children in Austria, but the extremely poor new republic lacked the resources. So, in 1920 the American food aid programme was used to send 25,000 children to holiday homes and farmers in Austria. When in 1922 Vienna was separated from Lower Austria and was turned into an independent federal state, the city of Vienna launched its own youth welfare office. Due to the desperate financial situation of the city, municipal funds for recreational holidays for Viennese children only made up one eight of the arising costs per year. The City of Vienna reacted with donations campaigns, “Child Rescue Week” (Kinderrettungswoche), and a lottery. What’s more, parents who could afford it, were asked to make a contribution. In this way annually 30,000 to 35,000 Viennese children spent the summer holidays in the country. On top of that, 20 recreational day-care centres were opened on the outskirts of Vienna, where the children arrived in the morning, spent the day there in the natural surroundings of the Vienna Wood, were fed, participated in games and sports and in the evening, they returned to their homes. Furthermore, the city of Vienna acquired a few recreational children’s homes, which were operational the whole year round. Already in April 1916 the Vienna City Council had passed a law on “recreational care” due to the food shortage in the city, which stipulated that famished children should be cared for during the day  in four leafy areas in the green belt around Vienna, which were bought by the city: Laaerberg, Girzenberg, Schafberg, and Kobenzl, between 1916 and 1919. In August 1916 the first recreational day-care centre for children was opened on Laaerberg, where some wooden military shacks were set up for the children. In 1918 1,200 children were cared for there on a daily basis. In the summer of 1918, the children’s day-care centres on Kobenzl and Girzenberg were opened and welcomed, respectively 400 and 100 children. In 1918 the Bellevue castle was acquired by the city on Kobenzl and was restructured as a day-care centre and in 1919 the centre on Schafberg followed. Undernourished Viennese children in need of recreation were fed and cared for in these day-care centres for four weeks. The 6- to 12-year-old children were examined by schools’ doctors before and at the end of their stay. All in all, in 1928 the city of Vienna owned five such day-care centres and it had set up another one on the banks of the Danube, the “Gänsehäufl”. They were run either by the WIJUG (“Wiener Jugendhilfswerk” since 1922) or the “Kinderfreunde” and “Volkshilfe”, private charities linked to the Social Democratic party, which was ruling the city from the end of World War I until the Austro-Fascist take-over of Austria in 1934.  Immediately after the war around 1,200-1,500 children were sent to homes in the vicinity of Vienna, to Ober-Hollabrunn and Pottendorf, as well. Overall, 5,474 Viennese children benefitted from these domestic recreational stays in 1919. In 1923 2,575 Viennese children, who were threatened by tuberculosis and other diseases linked to malnourishment, were sent to ten children’s homes in other parts of Austria. It is obvious that this was completely insufficient in the face of starvation. An extensive famine relief programme was needed.

Let’s return to the situation in Vienna after the end of World War I in 1918. Hermine Weinreb, an eminent pedagogue and co-founder of the Social-Democratic children’s organisation “Kinderfreunde” started in 1918 an initiative for recreational stays of Viennese children in a home in Gmünd, Lower Austria, with the help of the American children relief programme, where 1,400 children were cared for during a six-week summer holiday. She was involved in the cooperation with Italy, too, “I bambini di Vienna”. The famine crisis in the city was somehow alleviated by emergency food transports from abroad. The French and the British sent “food trains” with urgently needed basic food rations to prevent starvation in the city in 1919. Denmark and Sweden set up public kitchens which tried to feed the famished masses. But what really remained in the memory of the Viennese was another international emergency programme: the recreational holidays for Viennese and other urban Austrian children abroad. Tens of thousands of poor and famished Viennese children were invited in 1919 and 1920 to stay with foster families or in children’s homes for several months in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy. These were private initiatives and one of the first transports left Vienna on 3 February 1919 with the destination Switzerland. The primary school teacher Oskar Kahn from Ottakring, a working-class district of Vienna, accompanied a group of Viennese children and he remembered that the children had to sleep in the train carriages and ate only cheese and bread because of the straitened circumstances. Yet as soon as they had crossed the border to Switzerland, the experience of hunger was a past memory. In the border town Buchs the children received for the first time a warm meal, chocolate and cake – and “the food was abundant and excellent”. At the same time, they were given little presents by the locals, mostly chocolate. Unfortunately, as the small stomachs were used to fasting only, they could not digest the large amounts of sweets. The group finally reached Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, and the reception there was marvellous, too. The population awaited the children and had to be kept back by policemen, when they wanted to storm the train carriages to welcome the children who were given presents once more.

These children emergency programmes met with a wide response in the Austrian public. The press reported about the departures of “children’s trains” carrying children to their recreational holidays abroad. Apart from rare memoirs this is now the most important historical source for the aid programmes of 1919/1920. The famous Austrian writer and journalist Joseph Roth wrote for the Viennese paper “Der Neue Tag” and described the parents who were taking their children to the train station. They were poor working-class parents who stood tightly packed on the platform, thin and emaciated, “resembling squeezed-out lemons”. “Wiener Bilder”, a Viennese weekly magazine, reported about the cheery warmth with which Viennese children were welcomed in England in October 1920. In March 1920 “Das interessante Blatt” published an article about the departure of Viennese children to the Netherlands from the North Station. Furthermore, the Viennese journalist Max Winter who for years had been publishing very well-researched articles on the plight of the Viennese poor in the “Arbeiterzeitung”, the Social-Democratic paper, launched an international media appeal for the rescue of the famished Viennese children of the underprivileged. He is today seen as the innovator of social reporting, the inventor of which is considered Egon Erwin Kisch. Max Winter went much further, though, and painted devastating pictures of the underground of the glamorous capital city of the Habsburg Empire. He raised awareness for the destitution of the homeless who lived in the canal system of Vienna. He dressed up as a homeless person and spent time in the canal system, in shelters and the slums of the city. By that he reduced the distance between the journalist and the subjects of his research. He was trying to be close to the poor, to understand their living conditions, their language and he sympathised with them. His meticulous research and analysis under which the children of the poor lived in Vienna after World War I provoked a public outcry and triggered widespread international concern, which contributed to the start of various private aid initiatives.

Neglect and abuse of children had spread before and during the First World War in Vienna among the poor, which the first Children’s Congress of 1907 confirmed. At that time neglect of children was linked to criminal activity, juvenile delinquency and anormal behaviour of the young. When the war broke out, fathers were drafted and working-class mothers were called to fatigue duty, so the situation worsened as the children were left to themselves. When the food supply was drastically cut in Vienna, working-class mothers were preoccupied with the daily fight for scraps of food to feed their children and no time was left for caring for these children. Teachers documented the bad health of the pupils und described under which disastrous conditions the children lived at home; in one dirty, mouldy room where several people had to eat, sleep and live. In September 1917 the “Arbeiterinnenzeitung” wrote that a teacher reported that she did not know where to store the pupils’ hats and coats because they were full of lice. A doctor who had examined these pupils found that 90 per cent were ridden with lice. Everywhere on the walls and benches of the school rooms vermin crawled; they were even stuck to the teaching aids and bugs were swimming in the ink pots. Scabies was so widespread that even the teacher was affected by it. Due to the war the school hours were reduced and these children then spent most of their time in the streets of Vienna. Several were orphaned due to the war or had lost contact to their families. The Viennese police tried to find their parents via appeals to the public, mostly in vain. This phenomenon is documented in contemporary police statistics which categorise the roaming children as young criminals. Complaints of juvenile delinquency up to 14 years of age rose from 1,848 cases in 1913 to 5,926 in 1917 and 4,972 in 1919 and those between 14 and 18 years of age increased from 4,314 to 8,995 in 1918 and 8,059 in 1919. Stealing in order to procure some food was rampant and the children sold everything possible on the black market to be bartered for food, even the family’s own scarce furniture. Max Winter appealed to the government in 1915 that it was unsupportable that children in Viennese working class districts started to queue in front of shops at 10 pm to receive some flour when the shop opened at 7 am. Many women and children had seriously fallen ill due to the night-long queuing in the freezing cold. The Viennese paediatrician Clemens von Piquet documented the effect of the social and moral neglect and the widespread famine on the health of Viennese children at the “Wiener Kinderklinik” in 1918. Of the 498 children treated there 90 per cent were severely undernourished. Boys had 20 per cent less weight than normal and girls 18 per cent, which meant on average 6 kg less for boys and 5 kg less for girls in the age groups of 6 to 14. Yet during adolescence the weight loss was even more drastic: 14-year-old girls weighed 8 kg less and 14-year-old boys 10.7 kg less than normal. Due to these deficiency symptoms their bodies were drastically underdeveloped and the process of growth was retarded. Unfortunately, this affected their brains and their psyche, too. The children showed apathy, were exhausted and feeble, which sometimes resulted in an inability to walk and those children were then bed-ridden. Their fecklessness made them susceptible to infectious diseases; famine oedema, rachitis and tuberculosis were rampant among them. The increase in tuberculosis cases was most drastic in the age group of 5 to 20, Piquet found. His hospital recorded a doubling of related deaths during the war years. The Viennese statistic of death rates of children of school age showed 1068 in the year 1914 and 1995 in 1918. Max Winter documented in 1916 in “Der Kinderfreund” that the destitution of Viennese children was now incomparable to the destitution before the war; so many lost, neglected and famished children in Viennese streets as never before, so many soldiers’ children whose mothers could not procure enough food and so many working-class children whose parents had to work in ammunitions factories and still could not feed their families due to the catastrophic inflation. Heinrich Löwenstein stressed that it was necessary to reduce the mortality rate among children, which was 43 per cent in the age group of 5 to 10 and 26 per cent in the age group of 10 to 15 and he pleaded for recreational holidays of Viennese children in the Vienna city council. Löwenstein had already organised recreational holidays in Switzerland in 1917 and then coordinated the Danish relief effort in 1920. The Spanish flue in 1918 further exacerbated the situation in Vienna and pushed up the mortality rate in all age groups because due to their weakened health conditions the children quickly succumbed to the Spanish flu and had no defences.

6 o’clock Tea LITERARY WORKSHOPS

TOPICS

DATES

„The 1920s in England: Bloomsbury’s Views on Art and Life”: Virginia Woolf + Vita Sackville-West

April 1994

California: T.C.Boyle “Tortilla Curtain” + John Steinbeck “Cannery Row”

December 1998

Susan Sontag “The Volcano Lover”

January 1999

Tobias Wolff “The Night in Question”

February 1999

Magdalene Nabb “The Monster of Florence”

March 2000

Asian Women Writers’ Workshop “Right of Way”

March 2001

Agatha Christie & the Orient: “Mallowan. Come, Tell Me How You Live. An Archaeological Memoir”

April 2001

Rose Tremain “Evangelista’s Fan”

May 2001

Bahiyyiih Nakhjavani “The Saddlebag”

June 2001

Tony Kushner “Angels in America“

September 2001

Aboriginal Art + Sally Morgan “My Place”

October 2001

Ireland: Anne Devlin “After Easter” + John B. Keane “Short Stories”

December 2001

“Canadian Stories”: Leonard Cohen + Sharon Butala

January 2002

Joyce Carol Oats “Blond”

February 2002

Andrew Miller “Ingenious Pain”

April 2002

Tracy Chevalier “Girl with a Pearl Earring”

May 2002

Joanne Harris  “Five Quarters of the Orange” + “Blackberry Wine”

October 2002

Sally Vickers “Miss Garnet’s Angel”

November 2002

Vienna 1900: Gustav Klimt + Frederic Morton “Forever Street” + “Thunder at Twilight. Vienna 1913/14”

January 2003

Amitav Gosh “The Glass Palace”

February 2003

Paul Bowles “The Sheltering Sky”

April 2003

Clare Boothe Luce “The Women”

June 2003

J. Sobol, “Alma” – Alma Mahler-Werfel

November 2003

„Crucifixes, Mountains, Flowers & Poetry“: William Blake & D.H.Lawrence

December 2003

South Africa: Pamela Gien “The Syringa Tree”

February 2004

Richard Harris “Pompeii”

March 2004

R. Kipling “Just So Stories”

April 2004

Elizabeth George “Well-Schooled in Murder” + “Deception on his Mind”

May 2004

Samuel Pepys “Diaries”

September 2004

Monica Ali “Brick Lane”

September 2004

Geoffrey Chaucer “The Canterbury Tales”

October 2004

Tobias Jones “The Dark Heart of Italy”

November 2004

Jane Austen “Pride & Prejudice” + Karen Jay Fowler „The Jane Austen Book Club”

November 2005

Marina Lewicka “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian”

December 2005

Janie Bolitho “The Cornish Novels. A Rose Trevelyan Trilogy”

January 2006

Graham Greene “The Constant Gardener”

March 2006

Elizabeth Kostova “The Historian”

May 2006

Dan Brown “The Da Vinci Code”

June 2006

C.S.Lewis “The Chronicles of Narnia”

June 2006

Virginia Woolf “Mrs. Dalloway”

November 2006

William Somerset Maugham “Collected Short Stories”

December 2006

Joan Marble “Notes from a Roman Terrace”

January 2007

E.M.Foster “Where Angels Fear to Tread”

February 2007

“Under Vesuvius. Art & Artists in & around Naples 17th – 19th Century”: Susan Sontag, “The Volcano Lover” + “The Grand Tour”

March 2007

Washington Irving “Tales of the Alhambra”

April 2007

Antonia Fraser “Marie Antoinette”

May 2007

Tennessee Williams “The Rose Tattoo”

June 2007

Michael Grant “Cleopatra”

October 2007

“The Sea in Literature”: Ernest Hemingway “The Old Man And the Sea”, John Banville “The Sea”, Herman Melville “Moby Dick” + film “1900”

November 2007

“The Tale of Beatrix Potter” + “The Tale of Peter Rabbit & Other Stories” + “Beatrix Potter And the Lake District”

January 2008

Artemisia Gentileschi: Mary Gerrard “The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art” + Susan Vreeland “The Passion of Artemisia”

March 2008

James Joyce “Triestine Itineraries” “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” + “Ulysses”

April 2008

Salman Rushdie “The Enchantress of Florence”

June 2008

Deborah Moggach “These Foolish Things”

October 2008

Alison Weir “ Henry VIII”

September 2008

Willy Russell “Educating Rita”

September 2008

Sue Townsend “The Queen And I” + “Queen Camilla”

November 2008

Marina Lewycka “Two Caravans”

January 2009

Amanda Foreman “Georgiana. Duchess of Devonshire”

April 2009

Robert Harris “Marcus Tullius Cicero IMPERIUM”

May 2009

Nick Hornby “An Education”

May 2009

Willy Russell “Shirley Valentine”

June 2009

Jed Rubenfeld “Interpretation of Murder“ – S. Freud in America

June 2009

Amitav Gosh “Sea of Poppies”

November 2009

Louise Erdrich “The Master Butchers Singing Club”

January 2010

Barbara Quick “Vivaldi’s Virgins”

March 2010

Maggie O’Farrell “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox”

April 2010

Harriet O’Brien “Queen Emma & the Vikings”

June 2010

The Pre-Raphaelites & Poetry

October 2010

“The British & the South Seas” Robert Louise Stevenson + Somerset Maugham

November 2010

English Writers & Venice: William Shakespeare, W.H. Auden, John Ruskin,…

December 2010

Christopher Hampton “The Talking Cure”

January 2011

“English Language Writers on the Cote d’Azur”: F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tender is the Night” + Graham Greene “Loser Takes it All”

February 2011

Charlotte Bronte “Jane Eyre”

March 2011

W. Somerset Maugham “The Painted Vail”

April 2011

Alan Bennett “The Clothes They Stood Up In” + British TV series “Keeping Up Appearances”

June 2011

Toni Morrison “Desdemona” + “A Mercy”

September 2011

Edmund de Waal “The Hare with Amber Eyes”

November 2011

Andrew Graham-Dixon “Caravaggio”

January 2012

Simon Stephens “Wastewater”

January 2012

Elizabeth Bowen “A Time in Rome”

February 2012

Richard Ford “Rock Springs”

February 2012

Deborah Moggach “These Foolish Things”

March 2012

Frederic Morton “The Rothschilds”

May 2012

“London & Dickens”: Charles Dickens “The Uncommercial Traveller” + “Dickens’ Victorian London 1839-1901”

June 2012

Carl E. Schorske “Fin-de-Siècle Vienna”

June 2012

Salley Vickers “Aphrodite’s Hat. Short Stories”

September 2012

Alice Munro “Short Stories. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”

November 2012

Glynis Ridley “The Discovery of Jeanne Baret”

January 2013

Art Forgery: Noah Charney “The Art Thief” + Patricia Highsmith ”Ripley Under Ground”

February 2013

Eric R. Kandel “The Age of Insight”

March 2013

F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”

May 2013

Paul Roberts “Life And Death in Pompeii And Herculaneum”

October 2013

Giles Tremlett “Catherine of Aragon”

November 2013

Ruth Lewin Sime “Lise Meitner” + Carl Djerassi “How I Beat Coca-Cola And Other Tales of One-Upmanship”

December 2013

Peter May “The Lewis Trilogy”

March 2014

Shirley McKay “Hew Cullan Mysteries”

April 2014

Frank Tallis “Death And the Maiden” + William Boyd “Waiting for Sunrise”

May 2014

Alison Weir “The Captive Queen. Eleanor of Aquitaine”

September 2014

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh “The Flesh” + “Fleshmarket Close” + “Set in Darkness”

November 2014

Therese Anne Fowler “Z, A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” + Elisabeth de Waal “The Exiles Return”

December 2014

David Abulafia “The Great Sea. A Human History of the Mediterranean” + Michael Pye “The Edge of the World. How the North Sea Made Us Who We are”

February 2015

Chimanda Ngozi Adichie “Americanah” + Dinaw Mengistu “Children of the Revolution”

May 2015

Peter Ackroyd “Thames. Sacred River”

June 2015

“The Bloomsbury Group”: Virginia – Vanessa – Vita

September 2015

Deborah Soloman “Utopia Parkway. The Life & Work of Joseph Cornell”

October 2015

“Fin-de-Siècle Espionage”: Robert Harris “An Officer And A Spy” + John Osborne “A Patriot for Me”

December 2015

“Cathedral Builders”: Jean Gimpel “Cathedral Builders” + Ken Follet “The Pillars of the Earth”

February 2016

Gita May “Elisabeth Vigée le Brun”

March 2016

Billie Holiday “The Lady Sings the Blues”

May 2016

Jane Gardam “Old Filth” + “The Man in the Wooden Hat” + “Last Friends”

June 2016

“Swinging London”: Nick Hornby “Funny Girl” + Sadie Jones “Fallout”

September 2016

Sarah Gristwood “ The Story of Beatrix Potter”

November 2016

Susan Vreeland “Clara & Mr. Tiffany”

December 2016

William Shakespeare: James Shapiro “1606. Shakespeare and the Year of Lear” + Janette Winterson “The Gap of Time” + Howard Jacobson “Shylock is my Name”

January 2017

Margot Lee Shatterly “Hidden Figures”

February 2017

Burma (Myanmar): George Orwell “Burmese Days” + film “The Lady”

March 2017

Jhumpa Lahiri “The Interpreter of Maladies”

April 2017

George Clare “Last Waltz in Vienna”

May 2017

“The Bronte Sisters – To Walk Invisible”: Anne Bronte “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”

October 2017

Mark Lamster “Master of Shadows. Peter Paul Rubens”

October 2017

Jean Rhys “Wide Sargasso Sea”

November 2017

Graham Swift “Mothering Sunday” + film “Gosford Park” by Robert Altman

December 2017

Canada: Leonard Cohen “The Favourite Game” + Margaret Atwood “Stone Mattress”

March 2018

Arundhati Roy “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”

April 2018

Zadie Smith “Swing Time”

May 2018

Alexander Hardcastle & the Greek Temples of Agrigento”: Alexandra Richardson “Passionate Patron. The Life of Alexander Hardcastle”

October 2018

Marina Lewycka “We Are Alle Made of Glue” + Johnny Cash Lyrics

November 2018

Corrie ten Boon & J. E. Sherill “The Hiding Place” + J. North Conway “Queen of Thieves. The True Story of Marm Mandelbaum & her Gangs of New York”

January 2019

James Baldwin “If Beale Street Could Talk”

February 2019

Natasha Pulley “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street”

March 2019

Bernard Cornwell “Fools And Mortals”

May 2019

Robert Harris “Munich”

June 2019

“Poetry Picknick”: W.B. Yeates, D.H.Lawrence, Anne Ridler, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, William Blake

September 2019

Natasha Solomons “Mr. Rosenblum’s List”

October 2019

Nancy Mitford “The Persuit of Love” + Julian Mitchell “Another Country”

November 2019

Kathrine Mansfield “Short Stories”

February 2020

Louisa May Alcott “Little Women” + Wini Moranville “The Little Women Cookbook”

February 2020

V.S.Naipaul “Miguel Street” + Alexander McCall Smith “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”

March 2020

Tennessee Williams “Suddenly Last Summer”

June 2020

Graham Greene “Travels with my Aunt” + “The Quiet American”

July 2020

Gertrud Bell “The Desert and the Sown” + W. S. Maugham “The

Gentleman in the Parlour”

August 2020

DYSTOPIAS: Aldous Huxley “Brave New World” + George Orwell “Nineteen Eighty-Four” + William Golding “Lord of the Flies”

September 2020

Adrian Goldsworthy “Hadrian’s Wall” + “Antony & Cleopatra”

October 2020

Stephen Fry “Mythos. The Greek Myths Retold” + The British Museum “Troy. Myth & Reality”

May 2021

“The Long 1950s”: Endeavour Morse + film “Summer of Rockets”

September 2021

“Mysteries of English Society, 2nd Half of the 20th Century:  ”Barbara Pym “Excellent Women” + Caroline Graham “Midsomer Murder Mysteries”

November 2021

“English Women as Collectors and Scientific Pioneers, 19th Century”: Tracy Chevalier “Remarkable Creatures” + John Fowles “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”

December 2021

VIENNESE LANDSCAPES: NATURAL RECREATION AREAS FOR THE VIENNESE NON-ÉLITE IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY: THE VIENNA WOOD AND THE DANUBE


Picknick in the Vienna Wood, June 1931


A stroll in the “Prater” alluvial forest, autumn 1931

Photography was a popular and even if expensive, nevertheless an affordable hobby of the Viennese workers and the petite bourgeoisie in the first half of the 20th century. My grandfather Toni Kainz, a trained cook and waiter, innkeeper, tenant of a coffee house and fish monger, my great-uncle Karl Elzholz, a mechanic at the Viennese tramways, and my father Werner Tautz, an electrician, took many photos in and around Vienna documenting the leisure time activities of family and friends in the nature areas in the vicinity of Vienna. These photographic documents form the basis of this article which focuses on how the Viennese working class and lower middle class spent their leisure time in the extensive natural landscapes of the city in the first half of the 20th century with a special focus on the Vienna Wood and the Danube.

In the course of the 19th century social norms changed in Vienna whereby some social restrictions were eased, which meant that even low-income social groups could decide on their own how they would like to spend their rare free time. Some of the obligatory religious rituals were abolished due to the influence of the ideas of Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century. The large number of religious holidays which obliged people to participate in the respective Roman Catholic ceremonies were drastically reduced and some of the rigid controls of brotherhoods, guilds and professional trade associations, which had had a tight grip on the leisure time activities of their members and their whole households, were lifted. Festivities, even religious ones, were now more often celebrated with family and friends.

Until the 19th century the poorer classes often had to overcome nearly unsurmountable hurdles in setting up a family of their own. They needed a marriage permission from their master, landlord or employer, yet they usually lacked the means for supporting a family anyway. With the onset of industrialisations servants, maids, apprentices and guild members were no longer part of a household or tightly involved in professional organisations and could decide independently how to spend their leisure time. That’s why in the first half of the 19th century a large number of new places of amusement for the lower classes were established in Vienna; especially in the Viennese suburbs, where inns offered food and drinks in beer gardens and invited dance orchestras to play on Sundays (see article: “Viennese Suburban Inns”). These musical groups and small orchestras made the “Viennese Walz“ popular, so that a veritable “dance fever“ seized all social classes in Vienna in the 19th century. Traditional suburban inns erected large dance halls and some pubs on the outskirts of Vienna were turned into entertainment parks with swings, slides, carrousels, boats on artificial lakes and „chambres séparées“; for example in the „Kolosseum“ in Jägerstrasse (Brigittenau) “chambres séparées” were installed inside a wooden elephant. Indoor swimming pools were constructed, which could be covered and turned into ball rooms in winter, for example the “Sophienbad” in Marxergasse (Landstrasse) and the old “Dianabad” in Obere Donaustrasse (Leopoldstadt). The biggest dance hall of the time was the “Odeon” in Leopoldstadt, which could welcome 8,000 dancers. Especially during the Carnival season, the dance halls were crowded with people of the middle and lower classes.

Emperor Joseph II opened the Imperial hunting grounds in the “Prater” to the public at the end of the 18th century and soon on the grounds of this alluvial forest at the Danube pubs, coffee houses, “Pulcinella” (“Kasperl”) theatres opened and the family Stuwer staged elaborate fireworks. At the onset of industrialisation and its polluting consequences not just the well-to-do, but also the poorer classes discovered a yearning for natural landscapes and tried to flee the stifling city with its tightness, stench, noise and dust. An excursion into nature, the “Landpartie”, was the most favourite spare time activity of the lower classes on Sunday. In the first half of the 19th century the suburbs to the north and west, the Vienna Wood, could easily be reached via regular public coach services, the “Zeiserlwagen” and from there the people hiked up Leopoldsberg or Kahlenberg, for example. The well-to-do Viennese bought or rented small summer houses for spending the hot summer months in a natural surrounding in the vicinity of Vienna. As soon as tramways and railways were available, they transported the Viennese to their favourite natural landscapes for outings or the richer classes to their summer retreats (“Sommerfrische”).

Before the regulation of the Danube, the river separated into four river branches after the narrow section between Leopoldsberg and Bisamberg, west of the city. The southernmost arm, the Danube Canal (“Donaukanal”), was used for shipping goods to the city centre and was in some way regulated since the 16th century in order to keep it close to the city. The other three arms formed the alluvial landscape, which created islands that continually changed their form after every inundation. This part of the Danube could not be used for transport. The areas of Leopoldstadt (today’s 2nd district), Roßau (today’s 9th district) or Weißgerbervorstadt (today’s 3rd district) were continually threatened by catastrophic floods and the much-feared ice jam in winter. After one of the biggest ice jams in 1862 it was decided to undertake a complete regulation of the Danube in Vienna.

LIFESTYLE OF THE „LONG 1950s“(1947-1965) IN VIENNA

The social and economic period of the “long 1950s” started around 1947 and finished in the middle of the 1960s. The historian Eric Hobsbawn called it one of the most revolutionary periods in European history despite its general image of boring conservatism. He explained his surprising analysis with the unprecedented economic growth rates, the unrestrained adulation of technology and productivity and the breakthrough of Americanised industrialised mass culture. In Austria this period started with the currency reform of 1947 and the establishment of the post-war “Social Partnership” between employers and employees with the first wage and price control agreement. American aid via the Marshall plan (1948-1952) triggered the Austrian economic “miracle years” and in 1948/49 the former Nazis were again integrated into Austrian society with the virtual end of the denazification process. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union characterised the whole period with Austria positioned in the middle; geographically the most eastern point of the Western World, situated directly at the Iron Curtain. Culturally the aftershocks of the Nazi era and the Second World War were felt during the whole period, but gradually abated. The consequences of the lost war, the Allied liberation and occupation and the excessive veneration of virility by the Nazis gave way to a revival of the traditional conservative roles of men and women. The early 1960s were the years of marriage and childbearing, the “baby-boomer years” in Austria. After a very short period of cultural awakening right after the war, in the 1950s Austrian art and culture experienced a kind of “counter-enlightenment”, a return to very conservative art concepts. The student movement of 1968 ended this period and hailed a new era of sexual and artistic revolution which ended the post-war conservative Austrian concept of “the unity of the good, the true and the beautiful”.

If the Austrian standard of living was measured against the Western European standard at the beginning of this period, Austria was 40% below that, but the gap shrank to 20% in 1961. The gross national product of Austria grew from 49.6 billion AS (Austrian shillings) in 1950 to 134.6 billion AS in 1959. The economic structure developed towards the “American model” via increasing productivity, growing real incomes, an expansion of the labour force, a rising supply of goods and linked to that a dynamic consumerism. The introduction of the “American ideal of beauty” led to a dramatic increase in spending on cosmetics products in the same way as the craving for a motorised vehicle, a modern technical “American-style” kitchen and modern easy-clean furniture resulted in a dramatic increase in purchases in these sectors. Yet an average Austrian family could not afford a car or a fridge; the solution was presented in the form of hire purchase agreements. The new needs and wants of consumerism could be satisfied in this way. The higher living standard in Austria was paid for dearly with the health of the workers via piece work and overtime work. Despite the fact that the workers experienced pay rises to compensate the high inflation rates, the wealth gap between working class and middle class incomes was still widening and the new wealth was distributed unevenly. Even if a Viennese worker’s family had acquired a fridge via hire-purchase, they probably did not have a bathroom in their flat. This fact was covered up by the ruling “Social Partnership” of ÖVP (People’s Party) and SPÖ (Social Democrats), of trade associations and trade unions. The battle for a share of the new wealth was fought on the negotiating table between the government and representatives of employers and employees. Yet Austrian young workers tended to acquire the tastes of the middle class during this period. They bought the same clothes, saw the same films, bought the same technical gadgets, enjoyed the same leisure time activities and went on holiday to the same destinations, which in the long run diminished the differences in class consciousness in Austria.

All in all, every politically relevant group profited in the 1950s from the economic boom and the household expenses for food and clothing decreased, while the expenses for furniture, transport and leisure increased. Between 1950 and 1960 net private consumption rose by 71%. Expenses for education, training and entertainment increased by 81% during this period, for transport by 169% and expenses for furniture and household wares even by amazing 228%. Immediately after the war the prices for non-rationed goods skyrocketed and that’s why their share of expenses was extremely high, but 1950/51 was the first post-war year with free choice of consumer goods and no more rationing and by 1953 the ration coupons had completely vanished in Austria. Gradually the population bought more expensive, low-calorie and qualitatively higher food products and more ready-made products and that is partly the reason why the consumers spent 52% more on food stuffs in 1960/61 than in 1950/51. Many enterprises now offered canteen lunches, which phased out the Austrian habit of taking lunch boxes to work. Smoking and drinking was socially acceptable and much appreciated in those years, which can be seen in the photos of the time below. Alcohol consumption rose 88% per capita from 1950 to 1963, which meant an increase of 5.4% per annum. Cigarettes were a means of payment after the war and a status symbol. US cigarettes represented the new American way of life. In the 1920s and 1930s the light oriental tobacco dominated the Austrian market; it constituted 70% in 1937, but sank to below 10% after World War II. US Virginia tobacco was introduced in Austria during the years of the black market with US cigarette brands such as Camel, Lucky Strike and Chesterfield. Immediately after the war the cigarettes produced in Austria were the notorious “extra mixtures” (“Mischung A & B” and “Austria 1, 2 & 3”), but from 1948 on also more expensive brands with Virginia tobacco were produced such as “Jonny” and “Austria D”. Apart from the black market the Soviet USIA (Soviet property in Austria) cigarettes undercut the Austrian tobacco monopoly until 1955, when the Soviet army withdrew from Austria. In 1950 the Russian army administration established around 80 so-called USIA shops in the Soviet zones which offered a wide range of Soviet products from cigarettes and alcohol to food, textiles, sweets and even typewriters. The quality of these products did not necessarily meet the consumers’ standards, but the products were offered at dumping prices. The Communists advertised these shops as the Soviet form of aid for Austria, the Soviet “Marshall Plan”. But for some Viennese purchasing in USIA shops was considered a “betrayal of public morals”, others saved around 200 AS per month when shopping there. The demand for new clothing also underwent big changes as the Austrians moved towards ready-made clothing, which had a huge impact on the dressmaking sector, in which Herta worked; more and more dressmakers and tailors were dismissed facing long periods of unemployment and the small and medium-sized workshops had to close down.

A burning problem was the lack of housing. Vienna was short of at least 200,000 flats in 1951 and of those that existed only 14% had their own bathroom, 56% had no running water in the flat and 60% no toilet inside. Toni and Lola’s flat at Lerchenfeldergürtel 45/35 in Ottakring (16th district) was a “luxury” flat by those standards because it was large (four large and one small room) and had running water and a toilet inside, but no bathroom. Before they had a shower installed in the kitchen, the whole family had to go to a public bath house. In 1950 the Viennese public bath houses still counted 5 million visitors annually and the city of Vienna ran around 20 such bath houses. Herta’s family frequented the one in Ottakring, Friedrich-Kaisergasse 11.


The public bath house in Ottakring, Friedrich-Kaisergasse 11, is probably the last remaining “Tröpferlbad” (Viennese term meaning a trickle of water because the water flow was sometimes less than abundant)

This explains how proud the young couple Herta and Werner were, when they could pay the deposit for their newly built cooperative flat in Ottakring, Friedrich-Kaisergasse 26/28 on the fourth floor: 48 square metres with bathroom, toilet, kitchen, hall, two rooms and a balcony, in 1954. The deposit was 20,000 AS and the rent was 450 AS per month. Werner had earned well when working at the hydroelectric power plant Kaprun until 1955 (see article “Workers at the construction of the hydro-electric storage power plant Kaprun”) and they had both saved further 45,000 AS, which they used to furnish the new flat, when they moved in in 1956. When I was born in 1957, Herta stayed at home and Werner started to work at the Vienna Electricity Works, where he earned 1,300 AS per month, which meant that after paying the rent of 450 AS, gas, electricity and heating, not much was left for food, clothing or leisure activities. At that time Werner stopped smoking and Toni and Lola, my grandparents, paid for holidays together or outings.

After the war the pent-up demand for consumer goods resulted in a spending spree in three surges in the 1950s: first the “food surge” 1947/48, then the “clothing and furniture surge” 1949-51 and since 1953/54 the “fridge and car surge”. In 1964 the amount spent on furniture and household wares had doubled as compared to 1954. Social housing and tenant protection in Vienna prepared the ground for higher standards of home décor: American-style kitchens, fitted wardrobes, fridges, hoovers, washing machines turned out to be status symbols of middle-class lifestyle, most of it bought via hire-purchase. In 1956/57 the last surge started, the “travel and TV surge”. Only since then TV sets could be bought in Austria: in 1957 12,500 sets were registered and in 1958 33,000. In Vienna most inns and coffee houses had a TV set for public viewing. Werner and Herta did not buy a TV set, they preferred listening to classical music records, but when ice-skating competitions were broadcast I sometimes went with my grandmother Lola to the “Café Hummel” in Josefstädterstrasse to watch TV or when the children’s programme “Kasperl” was on all the children of the house met in front of the TV-set of my friend Sissy’s parents. During the whole period of the “long 1950s” cinemas, theatres and concerts experienced a boom in Vienna, but from 1960 on the cinemas started to feel the impact of television and the number of cinema goers slumped.

WORKERS AT THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ALPINE HYDROELECTIC POWER PLANT KAPRUN: FROM NAZI SLAVE LABOUR TO THE „HEROES“ OF POST-WAR AUSTRIA

Before the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire single entrepreneurs built and ran power stations, most of which were fired with coal as this was a cheap resource in the empire. But after the end of World War I and the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 the Austrian First Republic suffered a serious economic set back and a shortage of energy. While the consumption of electricity was rising, coal had to be imported for running the coal-fired power stations. That’s why the construction of hydroelectric power plants was boosted in order to avoid the import of expensive coal from Silesia and Bohemia. Between 1924 and 1930 the newly founded federal state corporations realised the first water power projects despite the resistance of large Austrian banks which refused to finance these projects because they held shares in the huge Czech and Polish coal mines. At the same time the establishment of an interconnected distribution system of the independent federal states’ electric corporations was attempted. So in the 1920s and 1930s a shift from coal to water power was visible. Yet due to the separate interests of the nine different federal states a functioning Austria-wide interconnected electrical grid could not be established.

Even before the “Anschluss” in March 1938 (the incorporation of Austria into Hitler’s “Third Reich”) Germany was trying to get access to the largely unexploited water power resources in Austria. Hydroelectric power stations in the west of Austria already delivered electricity to Germany before 1938. In preparing for the next war Germany made the decision to expand water power production considerably and to centralise the whole electricity production. The “Energiewirtschaftsgesetz” (energy production law) of 1935 made all energy production subject to state planning. Due to the substantial increase in arms production the demand for energy dramatically rose in Germany. There most power stations were coal-fired. That’s why the economic arguments for integrating Austria into the German territory did not just include the extensive Austrian gold and currency reserves, metallurgical resources and production and the skilled human capital, but most of all the opportunities for the exploitation of hydroelectricity. In April 1938 Hermann Göring stressed that the development of the Austrian hydroelectric capacities was not in the interest of the Austrian population or economy, it served the purpose of the German preparation for war. Due to the decisive lack of energy in Germany, the National Socialist (NS) economic planning saw to it that immediately after the “Anschluss” all plans for hydroelectric power plants which had been designed before 1938 were put into practice. This constituted part of the NS “Four-Year Plan” in order to compensate the scarcity of energy in Bavaria and prepare for the establishment of a chemical and metallurgical industry there. Another project was the creation of an interconnected electricity grid which linked Austria to Germany, whereby the west of Austria was completely subjected to the needs of the German weapons production. That’s why 62 per cent of the newly established hydroelectric power plants were situated in Salzburg, the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. All energy production in Austria was centrally planned in Berlin and became part of the state-owned VIAG (“Vereinigte Industrieunternehmungen AG”). This organisation founded a subsidiary, the AEW (“Alpenelektrowerke AG”), which was responsible for the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Alps and for building up an interconnected and coherent electricity grid. Local energy producers tried to resist, especially in the Tyrol, but to no avail. Yet all attempts at increasing production and capacity during the Second World War could not alleviate the energy shortage in Germany. Already before the war the industry was by far the largest consumer of energy and this trend was further intensified during the war. Until the beginning of 1942 the German energy production somehow managed to meet demand, but afterwards drastic restrictions were imposed on private energy consumption. Nevertheless, the German supply of electricity remained permanently insufficient and could no longer even meet the demands of the weapons production.


Kaprun construction site: one of the many photos Werner Tautz took when working there between 1949 and 1955

Another economic aspect of the “Anschluss” was the integration of half a million unemployed Austrian workers in German infrastructure projects and arms production, which had suffered under a lack of labour force since 1936. In the first period from the “Anschluss” in 1938 until the outbreak of the war in 1939 not only the unemployed were integrated in the German labour market, but slave labour was already introduced by applying the Nazi racist ideology and compelling the now marginalised population groups, most of all the Jews, Roma and Sinti to forced labour. During the second phase from 1939 until the military disaster of 1941/42 in the Soviet Union the employment of foreign forced labour started with foreign civilians who were forced to work in the German arms production and with prisoners-of-war. At the end of this period the German industry was so dependent on foreign forced labour that without it the war could not have been carried on. The third period from 1941/42 until 1945 was characterised by massive exploitation of Jewish and foreign slave labour. Slave labour in the Nazi period must not be confused with fatigue duty of citizens of the “Third Reich”, for instance of young women who had to work in agriculture for a year or for youngsters under the conscription age to construct motorways or defences (see article on “Nazi Children Evacuation Programme”). All forced labourers were racially or politically persecuted and subject to maltreatment after their home country had been conquered by the Nazis.

The various groups of forced labourers were treated differently by the Nazis. In Austria around 20,000 Jews were constringed to do slave labour after they had been excluded from the normal job market and the “Ostmark” (Nazi name for Austria) acted without a legal basis and as model for the rest of Germany with respect to brutal exploitation and expropriation of the Jewish population before their extermination in concentration camps (“KZ”). My great-grandfather, Ignaz Sobotka, was forced to do slave labour at the road construction firm “Teerag” and my grandmother, Lola Kainz, worked in the war-related industry in Vienna (see article “Nazi Collection Camps in Vienna”). Roma and Sinti were taken from their work places and locked up in forced labour camps in Austria before being murdered in the KZ Kulmhof and Auschwitz. The GESTAPO further ordered “unruly” German nationals and foreigners to be interned in so-called “labour education camps” (“Arbeitserziehungslager”) for some weeks or months before they were allowed to return to their work places. Another group of slave labour were around 50,000 Hungarian Jews who were chased to Austria from Budapest on foot after an agreement between the SS and the Hungarian Fascist representative Rezsö Kasztner in June 1944. They were interned in camps and compelled to work as slave labourers. The conditions in these camps in Austria were so terrible that a majority of the prisoners died within a very short time. Just to give two examples: in the camp in Felixdorf of 2,087 prisoners 1,865 died within a few weeks; in Lichtenwörth 1,600 out of 2,500 and in Gmünd 486 out of 1,700. When the Soviet army was approaching, those who were still alive were chased in “death marches” towards the KZ Mauthausen and Gunskirchen in the west, whereby 15,000 to 18,000 died.

Already at the end of 1939 the first prisoners-of-war arrived in Austria and they formed the second largest group of forced labour. According to military rank and nationality they were treated differently, whereby the Soviet prisoners-of-war were always treated worst; they were even systematically murdered. Most of the prisoners-of-war were used in agriculture, but also in factories and for the construction of dams and power plants. How many people died in POW camps and forced labour camps in Austria is unknown but the lowest estimate is 23,039; 96 per cent of which were Soviet prisoners-of-war. This number does not include those prisoners-of-war who died in the KZ network of Mauthausen, where more than 10,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war were murdered. Furthermore this number does not include the prisoners-of-war who died on death marches at the end of the war, when POW camps in the east of Austria, for example in Kaisersteinbruch, Gneixendorf and Edelbach, were evacuated and the prisoners chased west towards Braunau.

The KZ Mauthausen / Gusen near Linz was established in 1938 and starting as an extermination camp with a huge quarry developed in the course of its existence to a large network of concentration and extermination camps with an intricate system of division of labour, which ended fatally for tens of thousands of prisoners until the Allied liberation in 1945. Like many concentration camps the function of the KZ complex of Mauthausen / Gusen was extended from a death camp, whose only function was the killing of those interned there, to a forced labour camp in 1943 due to the drastic labour shortage in the German productive war industry. This meant that the number of KZ prisoners rose from 14,000 at the beginning of 1943 to around 73,000 in October 1944. The focus of employment of these KZ prisoners was the arms production in Linz, Steyr and Wels, for example the companies “Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG” and the “Reichswerke Hermann Göring” in Linz, and the industrial area around Vienna, for example “Henkel Schwechat”, “Flugmotorenwerke Ostmark” (aero engine maker) in Wiener Neudorf or “Rax-Werke” in Wiener Neustadt. The KZ complex Mauthausen /Gusen comprised more than 40 forced labour camps and the prisoners did not only work in the war-related industry, but also in the construction industry for the infrastructure development, such as tunnels and power stations, and finally since autumn 1943 in the construction of a huge network of tunnels to transfer the arms production underground. KZ prisoners had to dig tunnels for example near Melk for “Steyr-Daimler-Buch AG” and the “Flugmotorenwerke Ostmark”, in Ebensee for the development and production of rockets and in Gusen for “Messerschmitt” planes. At least 102,000 prisoners died in the KZ complex Mauthausen.

THE NAZI CHILDREN EVACUATION PROGRAMME „ERWEITERTE KINDERLANDVERSCHICKUNG“ IN THE VICINITY OF VIENNA 1940-1945 AND THE IDEOLOGICAL INDOCTRINATION OF THE YOUNG


The certificate of registration of the pupil Werner Tautz, my father, who was sent from Troitschendorf near Görlitz in Silesia to host parents in Obersiebenbrunn near Vienna via the Nazi children evacuation programme “Kinderlandverschickung”. He stayed from 22 August 1940 until 1 October 1940 with the family of Franz and Anna Rupp

On 4 January 1941 Werner returned on his own to Franz and Anna Rupp, who had agreed to take him in as a foster child. The photo of Werner of 1942 was later added to the certificate of registration

As in most Viennese families of the first half of the 20th century family members came from a variety of geographical, cultural and ideological backgrounds. My mother Herta’s family were on the one hand indigenous Viennese bourgeoisie from Währing and on the other hand urban assimilated Jews born in Vienna and southern Moravia. On the other hand, my father Werner’s background was rural from farming communities near Görlitz in Silesia, formerly German and now Polish territory. He was selected as one of two children by the headmaster of his school to be sent to Lower Austria near Vienna in August 1940 via the Nazi “Kinderlandverschickung” to a host family in Obersiebenbrunn, where the host father, Franz Rupp, had been a NSDAP member since 1931 with an interruption and was later stationed in Norway as a “Wehrmacht” soldier. In his memoirs Werner wrote, “I enjoyed my time at the Rupp family so much that I definitely wanted to return to them after my KLV stay there (which ended on 1 October 1940). Back home I urged my grandparents to help me and I told them that I would be able to learn a profession in Lower Austria (at that time “Gau Niederdonau”) and would not have to work for the farmers after school any more. My grandmother supported me and threatened my mother that she would not inherit their house if she did not allow me to move to foster parents in Obersiebenbrunn. As my mother did not want to forego the house, she agreed. But she took revenge. She saw to it that my foster family did not receive the 20 RM (Reichsmark) monthly alimony, which my (biological) father paid my mother…. I was the “illegitimate” child of the owner of a large-scale farm, where my mother had worked….. So on 4 January 1941 I moved to my new foster family Rupp and the alimony of around 600 RM over the years was deposited at the Dresdner Bank. I never received the money because after the war this region came to be situated behind the Iron Curtain and after 1989 I had no written proof that this money belonged to me. So it is still there.”

Anna Rupp, Werner’s foster mother, was a strong and warm-hearted woman and a devout Roman Catholic. She ran the family single-handedly during the war in a confident and efficient way. There was always enough food on the table, pigs, hens, geese, small fields to grow potatoes and maize, the bees for honey and a vegetable garden and orchard- and above all, all children were treated equally. She made a cosy home for Werner, who had never known anything like that before. His biological mother rejected him and especially after the birth of his half-sister Elsbeth, her marriage to Karl Perschke and the birth of his half-brother Günter, his mother discriminated against Werner to the extent that his grandparents wanted a better life for him with the foster family Rupp. Anna Rupp had no time or understanding for NSDAP party policy like her husband and ruled the family with a strong hand, which meant that after the war and the return of Franz from Norway there were many rows between the two spouses because she resisted the dominance of her rather authoritarian husband. This was the only aspect of life with the Rupps that bothered Werner. Anna was of a family with Slovak roots in the region, named Zimak, and she spoke Slovak well, which helped a lot when dealing with the Russian soldiers who were staying in her house for some months from April 1945 on. Anna’s father had left the family and had emigrated to the United States, when the three sisters, Marie, Anna and Mali and their little brother Pepi were still small children. He supposedly went bankrupt over there; he never returned and did not support his family either. So the girls had to work for the farmers in the region at an early age to earn a living. There were big farmers in the “Marchfeld” region who treated the girls fairly, paid them small wages and offered them food to take home for the family, but there were others, too, who exploited them shamelessly. This was so exhausting that Anna suffered from serious lung problems at the age of 18, but fortunately fully recovered. Her sister, Mali, never married and supported and cared for their mother. She worked in the sugar refinery in Leopoldsdorf like nearly everyone in the family. Franz Rupp was an unskilled worker there, his son Franzi learned the trade of fitter in the factory before he was drafted and Werner was apprenticed as an electrician in the same refinery. After the war Anna also worked in the sugar refinery every year during the time of the sugar beet harvest.

Werner soon felt completely at home with the Rupps and he later stressed that he was treated like their own child. No difference was made between him and the other three children of the family; he even received the same outfit as his foster brother Franzi; a kindness he had never experienced at home with his biological mother, Frieda. Werner adapted quickly to his new surroundings, spoke the local dialect and converted to Roman Catholicism, which was Anna’s wish. His whole life Werner was considered the model of a “true Viennese”, although he was born in Silesia and spent the first twelve years of his childhood there. Just like the grandfather of his later wife, Ignaz Sobotka, who was by birth right, looks and poise a “true Viennese”, but the Nazis denied him this status and persecuted him because he was born a Jew (see article on “Viennese Beer Brewers”). This example proves what a mixed people the so-called “true Viennese” were and still are and how stereotypes govern people’s perceptions.


The house of the Rupp family in Obersiebenbrunn, near Vienna, and Werner in the yard below

So how did this children evacuation programme “Erweiterte Kinderlandverschickung” (KLV) work in Hitler’s so-called “Third Reich” between 1940 and 1945? It was a huge transfer of children during the war to move them from cities under threat of bomb attacks to areas which were supposedly safe from Allied bombings. The Nazis insisted on not calling this programme “evacuation movement” because they feared the population would get worried when hearing this term and would no longer believe in the Nazi “Endsieg” (final victory). Most of all, this programme was a social and ideological experiment, namely to tear children from their families for months and educate them in a National Socialist surrounding and to indoctrinate them with Nazi ideology. This worked more or less well in the KLV camps which were set up, but not necessarily so with the children who lived in host families, although those were selected by the local NS party organisations and considered “reliable”. Overall, the impact of NSDAP party ideology and the pressure from NSDAP camp leaders resulted in the fact that a high percentage of boys who had gone through the KLV programme volunteered for the NS special troops SA (“Sturmabteilung”) and SS (“Schutzstaffel”) and especially towards the end of the war, the “Waffen-SS”. Contemporary witnesses who had stayed in KLV camps reported that the boys who did not volunteer for the special units SA or SS were ridiculed and discriminated against. This might not necessarily have been the case for boys in host families. Werner did not volunteer for the SS, but his foster brother Franzi did. He was drafted in 1943 at the age of 17, joined the “Waffen-SS” and was killed in the war. Werner was drafted in 1944 and opted for the marines. In fact, Franzi was a shy and melancholic boy who seemed to have enjoyed the presence of Werner in their home because until then he had suffered under the dominance of his elder sister Anni. His authoritarian father Franz forced him to join the “Waffen-SS “to make a man out of him”, because Franz Rupp himself was an SS-man and Franzi always did as he was told. Together with two other boys from the same village they were sent to France. In Marseille the other two decided to desert from the “Wehrmacht” towards the end of the war and urged Franzi to escape with them, but Franzi did not dare to join them. The other two returned home safely, whereas no trace of Franzi was ever found. He was declared missing in France. On 15 August 1944 the US troops had landed at the Cote d’Azur near St. Tropez with 60,000 men and were supported by the “Free French Army” of Charles de Gaulle. This landing is known as the “Operation Dragoon”. In the following days another 120,000 Allied soldiers landed on the southern French coast involving 880 war ships. The operation was half the size of the “Operation Overlord” on the coast of Normandy on 6 June 1944. Nevertheless it is nearly forgotten except in France. Hitler decided on 17 August 1944 to withdraw his troops from southern France except from the fortified strongholds in Toulon and Marseille. Around 250,000 to 300,000 “Wehrmacht” soldiers had to march north in the direction of Alsace. Either in Marseille or on the march north Franzi was killed. Fortunately Werner was sent to Freilassing, Bavaria, for army training in March 1945, where he decided to flee from the “Wehrmacht” returning to Obersiebenbrunn on foot at the end of the war.

The KLV was decidedly a NSDAP programme, organised and financed by the party, whereby hundreds of thousands of children were taken from their families and transferred to other parts of the “Third Reich”. The exact number of transferred children cannot be defined because at the end of the war all KLV files were destroyed at Hitler’s command. Some German historians estimate that around 2.8 million children took part in the KLV programme, whereas others believe that around 850,000 children between 10 and 14 years of age were cared for in camps and approximately the same amount in host families. There are no reliable numbers for Austria, which formed part of the “Third Reich” in those years and also not for the “Gau Niederdonau” (this included not just Lower Austria, but also parts of Burgenland, southern Moravia and southern Bohemia), but in around 200 KLV camps in “Niederdonau” approximately 10,000 – 20,000 children might have been lodged annually, not counting the children in the host families. A study in the Czech Republic found out that in nearby Bohemia and Moravia around 350,000 children were accommodated in 400 KLV camps.


Werner on the left with his much loved foster brother Franzi on the right and below with his new born foster sister Christine, who he remained very close to all his life

Werner felt welcome and at home at his host family and wanted to live with them for good, but the majority of KLV children suffered a lot under the separation from their families. Also in England evacuation programmes for children were organised to protect them from German bombers. Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, who had fled with his family from Vienna to England, established psychoanalysis in England and together with Dorothy Burlingham ran the Hampstead War Nurseries, where they treated traumatised evacuated children during the 1940s and after 1945 orphans from the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt, too. Anna Freud found out that the German bomb attacks were less traumatic for the English children than the evacuation and the separation from their families, especially from their mothers. No such studies were made in Nazi Germany, but the same was most probably true for the thousands of children in the KLV programme in the “Third Reich”, except for Werner, who had never had a proper family life and experienced the warmth of a home for the first time with the Rupp family.

A recreational stay of urban children in the countryside, called KLV “Kinderlandverschickung”, had been a well-established social programme in Germany since the end of the 19th century and was now organised by the NSV (“Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt” – National Socialist Welfare). In the summer of 1940 1,500 children were registered for a stay in “Niederdonau” via the original KLV programme, among them Werner. On 27 September 1940 Hitler decided that the programme should be extended to all children who lived in regions which were affected by Allied bomb attacks and the organisation of this “Erweiterte Kinderlandverschickung” (extended children evacuation programme) was to be taken over by the NSV together with the HJ (“Hitlerjugend”- Hitler’s youth) and the NSLB (“Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund” – the National Socialist association of teachers). Baldur von Schirach insisted on this terminology because it reminded parents of a well-known and established programme and by that avoided any war-related panic among the parents of KLV children. The local HJ was to identify suitable hotels, inns or bed & breakfast places where the children could be accommodated. In the region around Vienna the owners of such accommodations were happy to welcome KLV children because due to the war most tourist activity had ceased. The problem was only that the majority of locations were designed for summer tourism and provided no heating facilities. All the costs which arose from this “extended” KLV programme were to be covered by the party. Due to the resistance of middle-class and well-to-do parents to hand over their children, the party first concentrated on children from poorer families and dressed the programme up as a social measure. Werner was still selected on the grounds of the original KLV programme, as he did not come from an urban area which was threatened by bombs, but from the small village Troitschendorf near Görlitz in Silesia. He formed part of the group of children who were selected for the first KLV stay in “Niederdonau” from 20 August until 1 October 1940.

Baldur von Schirach had quickly drafted a programme of transferring 200,000 school children and 50,000 mothers with their babies and calculated that around 3,600 places of accommodation and appropriate means of transport were to be provided and around 2 million RM per day were to be raised for the implementation of his project. Hitler personally approved of Schirach’s “extended” KLV plans. Then an order was issued that all local NS party organisations had to recruit “reliable” host families, camp leaders and female personnel for cooking and cleaning and that’s when Franz Rupp volunteered as host father. The matter was urgent because the first “extended” KLV trains were to leave Berlin on 7 October 1940 – Werner was still part of the original KLV holiday programme of 5-6 weeks and had already left Görlitz in August 1940. From 1943 on nearly all big cities in Germany sent children away via the “extended” KLV. The programme was explicitly an NSDAP party programme, financed by the party and free of charge for the parents. The programme involved children until the age of 14 and in some cases until the age of 18. The party organisation NSV paid for the medical examination before departure, for transport, insurance and provisioning during the journey. Host families were entitled to a benefit that covered the costs of board and lodging. The parents were responsible for providing clothing, which was checked by the NSV before departure and in case of need the NSV issued shoes, coats etc. In “Niederdonau” the local HJ and BdM (“Bund deutscher Mädchen” – the NS association for girls) groups appointed HJ and BdM leaders who were looking after the 10- to 14-year old children in KLV camps and the HJ had to finance board and lodging of the children in camps. The teachers who were recruited by the NSLB were responsible for organising the teaching in the camps and the NSLB covered all the arising teaching costs. Children in host families like Werner usually attended local schools. Yet the HJ tried to extend its influence on the educational programme of all KLV children to boost the ideological indoctrination. It is difficult to estimate the number of children who were accommodated in the area of “Niederdonau” or Vienna because the NSDAP representatives tended to exaggerate the numbers for propaganda reasons. For example it is known that from 7 October until 4 November 1940 in the first “extended” KLV to Vienna 5,700 children were evacuated from Hamburg and in 1941 the NSDAP leader of “Niederdonau” boasted that his region was on the top of the list of KLV hosts with 200 camps and 20,000 KLV children, which was probably highly exaggerated because other sources calculate that there were lodgings available for 10,000 children only in “Niederdonau”. But again in 1943 at the time when more and more children who were affected by bomb attacks were sent south a NSDAP representative of the region spoke of 20,000 KLV children annually for “Niederdonau”.

The duration of this “extended” KLV programme was not explicitly mentioned in order not to upset the parents and the children, but it was much longer than the original KLV holiday programme of around 5-6 weeks via which Werner came to Obersiebenbrunn. Many parents were sceptical about the NSDAP children evacuation programme and did not want to hand over their children to the NS party. But the aggressive Nazi propaganda for the “extended” KLV, the threat of bomb attacks and the shortage of food in urban areas left many parents no choice. The children were taken from their families initially believing that they would return home after four to six, maximum eight weeks. The parents were from time to time soothed that they were allowed to have their children back whenever they wanted and to have the permission to visit them. In no case should it be mentioned that the children might only return home when the war was ended. In 1941 a stay of six to nine months was informally fixed and a return home before the expiry of this “extended” KLV date was not permitted; on the contrary, the parents might even be asked to agree to an extension of the duration of their child’s KLV stay. In the course of the war the KLV programme was progressively prolonged and from 1943 on it was no longer limited in time, it was an indefinite measure.

The organisation of “extended” KLV was centralised in Berlin under the leadership of Baldur von Schirach, Hitler’s commissioner for youth education, and a special NS party representative was appointed for every district (“Gau”) to coordinate the three party organisations NSV, HJ and NSLB on site. The headquarter for “Niederdonau” was located in the 9th district of Vienna, Wasagasse 10 and was headed by Otto Fenninger, who was appointed by “Gauleiter” (district leader) Hugo Jury. In “Niederdonau” the KLV officially employed around 1,900 people, including camp leaders, housekeepers, cooks, cleaners etc. plus 1,300 persons who were responsible for caring for and educating the children. It was the intention of the organisation to accommodate the children in isolated places and small villages mostly. The official argument for this choice of location was the boosting of cohesion within the KLV group in closed communities. This was of course not possible when children were lodged in host families like Werner.

The buildings which were selected by the HJ as appropriate locations for KLV camps were not always handed over voluntarily by the owners to the KLV for the purpose of installing a camp, but if no agreement could be reached the buildings were requisitioned. Nevertheless many hotel and boarding house owners cooperated willingly because the KLV children compensated to some extent the breakdown of tourism in the region during the war. All KLV camps were marked with a combination of letters and numbers: for example ND for “Niederdonau” and then the number of the camp and a uniform postage stamp was created. Those children who were sent to host families were assigned to a family which had applied for a KLV child or children. The local newspapers in Lower Austria announced that it was the “express wish of the Führer” that the local population welcomed as many children as possible because it was their “honour of duty towards the Führer”. In some villages the families even competed with each other and tried to outdo one another in complying with Hitler’s wishes. It can be assumed that only politically “reliable” families were selected because there are records of families which were rejected. Some pressure might have been applied by the local party to accept KLV children if it was known that there was unused space in a family home, such as a garden house or empty rooms. The newly established KLV camps were adapted and equipped by the KLV headquarter in Vienna, where a whole school building acted as a warehouse in which kitchen equipment, heaters, bunkbeds, lockers, shoes and clothing etc. were stored. In every KLV camp an infirmary had to be installed, too. The bureaucracy for the innkeepers and hotel owners who ran such camps was enormous and dozens of check lists had to be completed daily, for example food deliveries, in order to be compensated by the KLV. For some innkeepers this was good business nevertheless: around 1.95 RM was paid per bed and additionally 1.45 RM per child. The host families received 2 RM per child and day additionally to the child’s food stamps.

In the beginning of the programme children from different schools were sent to one destination. Werner noted that two children from his school were chosen to be sent on a 6-week KLV holiday in August 1940 and the headmaster selected him, although he was not undernourished, because he knew about his difficult family situation and because Werner was always “ready to assist with little chores, such as cleaning the aquarium or acting as beater at a hunt”. Initially northern German cities sent children to KLV camps in the south and later also Viennese children were evacuated to “Niederdonau”. From 1943 on whole schools were dispatched to KLV camps. Werner wrote that he was lucky at having ended up with the Rupp family, because they had opted for a girl and he should have been sent to the builder Steinbeck, but despite the confusion the Rupp family welcomed him in their home. According to contemporary witnesses such mix-ups happened quite often. The children usually arrived at the point of destination completely exhausted after long train rides of sometimes two days and often more than 1,000 km.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF A VIENNESE SOLDIER IN A SAPPERS’ DIVISION OF THE GERMAN „WEHRMACHT” DURING THE MILITARY CAMPAIGN IN & OCCUPATION OF POLAND 1940/41 (PART2)


Toni and Lola as a newly-wed couple in Preßbaum near Vienna before the war

Anton Kainz (Toni), my grandfather, was drafted to the German Wehrmacht in March 1939, a year after Hitler had incorporated Austria into the German “Third Reich”. When the 2nd World War broke out in September 1939 Toni was assigned to the “3rd Sappers’ Battalion XVII 79/B” of the German Wehrmacht as a sapper (“Bausoldat”) in February 1940 and had to complete ten weeks of training in the Vienna Arsenal. He was sent to France in June 1940 and remained there until September 1940. From September 1940 until June 1941 he was with the “2nd Sappers’ Battalion 153 /288” in Poland (the then so-called “Generalgouvernement”) until he was dismissed from the German Wehrmacht and declared “n.z.v. (“nicht zu verwenden” – not to be used) because he refused to divorce his Jewish wife, Lola, my grandmother. In this one year as a soldier he wrote 246 long letters and a few postcards to his beloved wife and daughter with detailed descriptions of the life of a common soldier, his tasks and activities, his feelings and emotions and his attempts at handling the precarious situation of his wife and daughter in Vienna from a distance. A detailed analysis of his documented experiences forms the core of this article. The historical analysis of the 246 letters which Toni wrote to his wife in this period is divided into three categories: first, information about the military campaign, where he was stationed, the military tasks and operations, and the conditions of the military service; second, in which way he tried to support his family in Vienna and how he organised important tasks at home from a distance and third, his emotional conditions on the military front line.


A public announcement in Krakow on 19 September 1939: Alcohol can only be offered in inns, cafés and bars to Wehrmacht soldiers and no longer to Polish civilians

A public announcement in Krakow on 24 September 1942 informing Polish civilians about the drastic punishment they have to face if they assist Jews

On 1 September 1939 the German armed forces under Adolf Hitler attacked Poland, which was the start of World War II. Germany’s invasion of Poland was characterised by the so-called “blitzkrieg” strategy; a surprise attack of extensive bombing to destroy the enemy’s air capacity, infrastructure and communication lines, followed by a massive land invasion with large numbers of troops, tanks and artillery. As soon as the Germans had set up bases of operation in Poland, they started to annihilate any opposition to their Nazi regime. Although the Polish army counted 1 million soldiers, it was badly equipped and severe strategic miscalculations contributed to the fact that the Polish forces could not be a match for the technologically much more advanced German forces. The Poles had hoped for a Soviet intervention, but Stalin had signed with Hitler the Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-Aggression Pact already in August 1939, which secretly stated that Poland would be divided up between Hitler and Stalin. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany and Great Britain responded by bombing German territory three days later. Earlier on Britain and France had acquiesced to German rearmament and the annexation of Austria, the “Anschluss” in March 1938, because they were not prepared to fight another war against Germany so soon after the end of World War I. In September 1938 they even pressured Czechoslovakia to yield to Hitler’s demand for the incorporation of the Czech border region to Germany known as the “Sudetenland” with its large German-speaking population. Although Britain and France had guaranteed the integrity of the remaining Czechoslovakia, Hitler incorporated the Czechoslovak territory in March 1939, by that violating the Munich Agreement of September 1938.

In order to justify their attack on Poland the German military together with the SS staged a phony Polish attack on a German radio station and used this action to resort to “retaliation” against Poland. German troops reached Warsaw eight days later and started a siege of the city, which suffered severe damage and had to surrender on 28 September. The Polish forces were heavily outnumbered and despite tough resistance they were defeated within a few weeks. The Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland on 17 September 1939 and Poland was divided along the Bug River into a German- and a Soviet-occupied territory. Some Polish soldiers managed to flee across the border to Romania and the West to join the Free Polish Forces. Several of them joined the British Royal Air Force and took part in the “Battle of Britain”. On October 1939 Hitler annexed the Polish territories along the Eastern German border, such as Western Prussia, Upper Silesia and the city of Danzig (Gdansk). The rest of the German-occupied Polish territory was subjugated under a Governor General, the Nazi Hans Frank, as the “Generalgouvernement” (General Government). Toni was stationed there as a Wehrmacht soldier from September 1940 until June 1941 after having served in France (see article part 1).

The British and French commanders were still stuck in World War I strategies and were totally unprepared for the “blitzkrieg” in Poland. War was only declared three days after the invasion on 3 September 1939 because the Western Allies had hoped that Hitler would respond to their demands and end the invasion. The hoped-for French and British offensive in the west did not take place. On the contrary, on 13 September French troops were ordered to fall back behind the defensive “Maginot Line”. Germany had gained a swift victory but that was only the start of World War II because Britain and France refused Germany’s offer for peace and so Hitler’s gamble had failed. He had been confident that the invasion of Poland would be brief and victorious because the Polish army was unprepared and that Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime minister, and Edouard Daladier, the French President, would rather opt for a peace settlement than wage another war. Hitler had won a substantial revision of the Peace Treaty of Versailles of 1919, ending World War I, which was by than widely regarded as an unfair penal peace even in the West, not just in Germany. Unfortunately many believed that communism posed the greater threat to Western democracies than fascism and welcomed a strong Germany as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. That is why Hitler had enjoyed astonishingly positive press coverage in Western democracies until 1938. Germany had even been allowed to host the Olympic Games of 1936, which were turned into a propaganda event for the Nazis. The positive climate ended after the “Munich Agreement” in March 1939, but Hitler was emboldened by his earlier successes and dismissed the concerns of his generals, but demanded total loyalty instead.

The German tanks quickly devastated the Polish defence, encircled the Polish troops and annihilated them as the German attackers far outnumbered the Polish army in manpower and equipment: 3,234 German fighter planes attacked 842 Polish ones. In this attack on Poland the German Wehrmacht lost 3,234 soldiers and 30,222 were wounded, whereas 123,000 Polish soldiers died and 133,700 were wounded and 694,000 were taken prisoner by the Germans. Now the terrible walk through hell started for Poland: the nearly complete extinction of the Polish Jews, the terrible suppression of the Polish people by the NS regime and the mass internment of Poles in slave labour camps. The Polish soldiers who had fought bravely to defend their country had had no chance in this unequal battle and many ended up in German and Soviet labour camps. Hate begot hate, which resulted in aggression against the German-speaking minority in Poland and in excessive anti-Semitic attacks against Jews by Poles. The Jews had to flee the German Nazis and their Polish compatriots. Nevertheless, those Poles who helped the Jewish population despite death threats by the Nazis should never be forgotten.

In August 1939 a secret additional protocol to the so-called “Hitler-Stalin-Pact” already stipulated the separation of north-eastern and south-eastern Europe into “spheres of interest” of Germany and the Soviet Union and by that the partition of Poland along the rivers Narew, Weichsel and San. From the 17 September on Soviet troops occupied the eastern part of Poland. But Hitler’s plan had just been to incorporate Poland without any disturbance of the Soviets and to gain an ideal starting position for his already planned attack on the Soviet Union. The rest of the world assumed that this pact would secure peace in Europe because they were unaware of the secret supplementary protocol. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 he incorporated the Soviet-occupied Polish territories, too. The NS propaganda machine indoctrinated the German soldiers and the German public creating the image of “slawischer Untermensch” (Slavic subhuman being) and many of the German soldiers succumbed to this prejudice and believed they dealt with a “primitive people” when they were on Polish territory in the so-called “Generalgouvernement”. Yet most German soldiers acknowledged the bravery of the Polish soldiers, but had virtually no contact to the Polish population. What can be seen from the original documents is that Toni and his friends were different; they did build up friendly relationships with the local population.

The command of field marshal von Reichenau, commander of the 6th German Army, on 6 October 1941 constituted a defiance of the international law of war and put the Wehrmacht per definitionem at the same level as the SS, which was then responsible for genocide behind the front lines just as the SS and other NS organisations z.b.V. (“zur besonderen Verwendung”= for special use). Unfortunately, anti-Semitism was deeply rooted in the Polish population, too, and attacks against Jews were largely supported by the local population. In war diaries of German officers one can find many hints to their aggressive anti-Semitism, for example they wrote about “ugly and dirty Jews” and that “no one wants to be stationed in a city like Tarnow, which is a virtual Jew city”. But one can also find comments of ordinary privates who showed mercy and compassion towards the Polish Jews. The Viennese private Alfred Pietsch was shocked about the destitution of the inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto and the squalor there when he had to deliver some furniture to the ghetto in 1942. The German soldiers knew about concentration camps, but the privates had no idea what was really going on there. All knew about the abuse and the mistreatment of the Jewish population, but it was virtually impossible to act against military orders. Nevertheless there was a small number of “silent heroes” who defied the holocaust and tried to rescue Jews. Helping Jews was more dangerous than allowing partisans to escape because it was always punished by immediate execution. In the memorial of Yad Vashem in Israel 83 Austrians are listed among the “Righteous among the Nations“, 45 of them were members of the German Wehrmacht.

How was the Austrian army integrated into the German Wehrmacht after the “Anschluss” in March 1938? During the First Republic the Austrian army was underfunded and little appreciated by the population. Contrary to the former k.&k. Habsburg Army, it was now a “politicised” army: from 1921 on the Austrian soldiers more or less had to be members of the Christian-Socialist “Wehrbund” and the army had to act as an obedient tool of the Christian-Socialist government, which became visible in the role the army took in the suppression of the Socialist protests in February 1934. After the ban of the Social Democratic Party, the Austro-Fascist regime relied in its defence on Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. Only when it became clear that Mussolini and Hitler were forging a pact, did the Austrian government decide to re-arm the Austrian Army. By introducing compulsory military service and re-introducing a general staff they violated the St. Germain peace treaty of 1919. Field marshal Alfred Jansa developed a defence plan in case of a German aggression, which was expected for the year 1939, but this “Jansa Plan” was so secret that even many divisional commanders were not informed. The Austrian High Command was anyway convinced that resistance was futile because the Austrian army was clearly inferior. Under the Austro-Fascist regime all soldiers and officers were supposed to be members of the Austro-Fascist “Vaterländische Front”, but the illegal National Socialist “NS-Soldatenring” was highly active inside the Austrian army and the climate therefore was characterised by mistrust and anonymous denunciation. On 11 March 1938 the partial mobilisation was announced and a marching order was issued to protect the border to Germany. Yet the officers were not informed by the government and the abdication speech of the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg caught them by surprise while they were having dinner. In the morning of 12 March they learned about the invasion of the German Wehrmacht and received the order to retreat into the barracks at 9.30. The enthusiasm of the Austrian population which welcomed Hitler and had already decorated official buildings, barracks and public transport with swastika flags surprised even many soldiers and overwhelmed them. Yet some officers were annoyed about the government’s decision not to show any resistance. Already on 14 March all Austrian officers and soldiers were sworn in to Adolf Hitler; only few dodged the ceremony which was not noticed in the existing turmoil, but those who officially refused to take the oath, were immediately dismissed and persecuted. Around 30 Austrian officers were imprisoned or deported into concentration camps, six of which died there. Furthermore, 123 “non-Aryans” (officers of Jewish descent) were dismissed from the army on the spot. The orders of the German High Command (von Bock and von Brauchitsch) of 14 March 1938 already marked the end of the Austrian army and the complete absorption into the German Wehrmacht, although the Austrian soldiers and officers were not aware of this fact at that point in time. The pompous military parade along the Viennese Ringstrasse on 15 March covered up the tragic side of the end of the Austrian army: 67 Austrian officers were dismissed and 50 officers who had had to leave the Austrian army before because of illegal membership in the NSDAP were reinstated. Just to mention two of the tragic destinies: the student at the military academy and son of the Austrian vice-chancellor, Herbert Fey, committed suicide after learning that his parents had taken their lives and the field marshal Johann Friedländer was dismissed as a Jew, lost his flat and was deported to the KZs Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1945.

Most Austrian officers and soldiers were originally no National Socialists, but many were attracted by the prospect of a career in the Wehrmacht and the National Socialists in the Austrian army even dreamed of an Austrian independence within the German “Third Reich”. Yet Hitler did not accept any special status of the Austrians and was only interested in an increase in the number of soldiers for the Wehrmacht. Immediately compulsory military service was extended from one to two years and the Austrian soldiers were completely integrated in the German Wehrmacht. In a second wave of “cleansing” further 440 officers were dismissed, mostly on the basis of political attitude or because they had Jewish wives, like my grandfather Toni. The hopes for rewards and promotions of members of the formerly illegal “NS Soldatenring” were quickly dashed because the German Wehrmacht was basically apolitical and not too many close ties existed at that time between the NSDAP and the Wehrmacht.

On the other side of the front line around 10,000 Austrians fought together with the Allied Forces against Hitler. They were emigrants, persecuted Jews, Habsburg monarchists, Communists or Socialists who volunteered to fight in the alliance against Fascism; others deserted from the Wehrmacht and joined foreign armies. A family relative who was renamed John Collins in the UK, had fled from Vienna to Great Britain and joined the British Forces against Hitler. I got to know him as a child when visiting my great-aunt and great-uncle, Agi and Norbert Katz, in London and he was presented to me as a war hero – behind his back, of course. These Austrian soldiers were not always warmly welcomed, but treated with utmost mistrust. The President of the United States Roosevelt was in favour of establishing an “Austrian battalion” because that would support the idea of a future independent state of Austria. Yet many of the Austrian volunteers rejected the attempt of Otto von Habsburg, son of the last Habsburg emperor, of leading the Austrian battalion. In 1943 the “Infantry battalion 101” was dissolved without ever having reached the required manpower. Nevertheless thousands of Austrian and German volunteers were integrated in the US Army with the prospect of receiving US citizenship. Famous Austrians in the US Army who after the war played an important role in the cultural reconstruction of Austria were Ernst Haeussermann, director of the Vienna Burgtheater, Marcel Prawy, opera expert, Georg Kreisler, cabaret artist and Hans Habe, journalist. The Austrians and Germans were trained in the camps Ritchie and Sharp since the summer of 1942. Around 20,000 soldiers were trained in map reading, interrogation techniques, creating flyers and radio reports and most of all, in the set-up and working of the German Wehrmacht. Later in Europe they were called the “Ritchi and Sharp boys”. Approximately 10 per cent of the 7,000 Austrians who fought in the US army were trained there. They were used to procure secret information from the enemy, help interrogate German prisoners-of-war and destroy German morale by distributing millions of flyers over enemy territory and creating radio reports in Allied radio stations. In this way they tried to induce the civilian population and soldiers in Germany to surrender. After the war they assisted the Allies in identifying Nazis in occupied Austria, published the first newspapers and acted as cultural messengers. They were also among the first to set foot in the liberated Nazi concentration camps, they talked to the survivors and documented the holocaust.

1,500 Austrians served in the French “Légion étrangère”. After the “Fall of France” 1940 most of them fled abroad and some joined the British troops in North Africa. In this way five British sappers’ companies were formed consisting of Austrian and German emigrants. In 1944 an Austrian battalion of more than 500 men was established under French command and was sent in September 1945 to assist the French troops in the occupation of Austria. All in all approximately 4,000 Austrians served in the French army.

The only army where Austrians set up a separate fighting unit was in the Yugoslav army. In 1944 Austrians, mostly former fighters in the Spanish civil war, Communist emigrants and prisoners-of-war who wanted to escape interment in Soviet POW camps formed five Austrian battalions which were trained by the Soviets. All of them arrived in Vienna in the spring of 1945 and took over defence and security tasks in the eastern part of Austria.

Last but not least, 3,000 to 5,000 Austrians served in the British Army during World War II. At the beginning of the war they were integrated in the “Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps” (AMPC), which was not armed. Until March 1940 five divisions were formed, which consisted exclusively of Austrian and German Jews; the Austrians constituted 26 per cent (628 soldiers). These volunteers were not automatically awarded British citizenship and were usually not armed, but used for construction works and the clearing of bomb debris. In 1940 four corps were despatched to France. All of them were evacuated from France across the British Channel. Between October 1940 and January 1941 ten more sappers’ corps were formed with 458 Austrian volunteers from British internment camps. So, all in all around 4,500 Austrian and German soldiers were active in 15 sappers’ divisions on the side of the British. In 1942 emigrants had access to officers’ training courses for the first time and in the spring of 1943 they were allowed to volunteer in all military services of the British forces. Many sappers now left these least appreciated corps and entered other British military services. This meant that additionally to the 1,400 Austrian sappers, further 1,600 Austrian soldiers actively fought in the British forces at nearly all front-lines. For their personal security in case of imprisonment by the German Wehrmacht they were given new names and a new identity. Few underwent special training and then acted as agents behind the enemy front lines. 60 of these Austrian agents in the service of the British were uncovered and executed. Several Austrians in British uniform were stationed in Austria after 1945 and helped with administering the occupied territories and acted as interpreters. A special Austrian battalion was never set up in the British forces, as its establishment had failed in the USA, although this was mentioned in the Moscow Declaration of 1943 as a condition and symbolic contribution to the liberation of Austria as an independent state. All attempts were unsuccessful due to the discord among the organisations of Austrians in exile. What was the destiny of German and Austrian Jews who ended up as prisoners-of-war of the German Wehrmacht? The German army soon found out who they were, especially if they were caught in an all emigrants sappers’ corps, but they constituted a problem for the Wehrmacht, which would not treat them as they handled all other Jews. So mostly they ended up in prisoner-of-war camps and were condemned to hard labour.


A post card from Poland which Toni kept

On 5 September the train transporting Toni and the other Wehrmacht soldiers of the “2nd Sappers’ Battalion” from France to Poland stopped in Tarnow, the weather was good and the journey wonderful, Toni wrote. On 6 September 1940 Toni arrived at Sanok, the first destination of his battalion in Poland.


Map of the region as part of the Habsburg Empire’s crown land Galicia, showing Tarnow and Sanok

The Polish cities Sanok and Tarnow had been part of the Habsburg Empire’s province of Galicia after the first partition of Poland in 1772 until the end of World War I. In the course of the German assault on Poland Sanok was occupied by the Germans and was integrated into the so-called “Generalgouvernement”, just as Tarnow. Sanok was a frontier town between the German-occupied and the Soviet-occupied parts of Poland until the German attack on the Soviet Union and in 1940 the Polish underground movement established itself there. The population structure of the whole region was characterised be a large number of different minorities, such as Jews, Ukrainians, Lemkins, Boykins and Germans, several of which were forced to collaborate with the Nazis or did so voluntarily in the “Waffen-SS-Division Galicia”.

Tarnow had been one of the most important merchant towns in the Habsburg Empire. When the German Wehrmacht occupied Tarnow on 8 September 1939, many of the 25,000 Jewish inhabitants tried to flee eastwards, but on the other hand many Jewish refugees ended up in Tarnow who had been trying to escape the Nazis from occupied territories further west. It can be assumed that in 1942 30,000 Jews lived in Tarnow. But the German occupiers also harassed the Christian Poles. In June 1940 the first transport of Christian Polish prisoners to the KZ Auschwitz was organised by the GESTAPO; of these 728 prisoners only 200 survived. For the Jews the Nazis established a ghetto in Tarnow where they interned between 20,000 and 40,000 Polish Jews, who were exploited as slave labourers, most of which were finally deported to the extermination camps Belzec or Auschwitz –Birkenau and murdered there. The establishment of the Tarnow Ghetto was formally announced in March 1941. The final liquidation by the Nazis took place in August and September 1943 and in January 1945 the Soviets ended the Nazi occupation of Tarnow.


A photo Toni took of a sunset in Zamosc, Poland, in February 1941. In this town more than 10,000 Jews lived and the German occupiers set up a ghetto there as well and started deporting the Jews to Belzek in April 1942 until the final liquidation of the ghetto in October 1942

THE MILITARY CAMPAIGN


Toni took a photo of a German PAK (Panzerabwehrkanone)

Sanok

On 6 September 1940 Toni wrote to his beloved wife Lola that they were stuck in Sanok and waiting for the next transport. They were supposed to end up somewhere 40 km from Sanok in a godforsaken village. He was really desperate because this was a totally deserted area. They had just been on the banks of the river San and had looked towards Russia, which was approximately 300 km away. He thought it would be possible to purchase some things in Sanok, but everything was five to ten times more expensive than in France: 0.5 l of beer or 100 g sausage 50 Pf (Pfenninge) and a small piece of cake 30-40 Pf. Then Toni described in his letter the journey from France to Sanok, which he had enjoyed very much as there was good weather all the time: On 2 September they left Remiremont at 10.30 am and went via Luneville  to Saarburg  and Saargemünd, where they stayed overnight. There was an air raid at night and they could hear and see the attacks of the enemy airplanes and the responding German defence, but he had slept well in the hay on the open train carriage nevertheless. Then they were transported to Homburg – Ludwigshafen – Worms – Frankfurt – Hanau – Fulda – Hersfeld – Ronshausen – Eisenach, where he admired the many flowers, – Gotha – Erfurt – Leipzig, where they arrived on 3 September at 9 am, then to Dahlen – Riesa – Dresden – Bautzen – Greiffenberg – Hirschberg, where they crossed the “Riesengebirge”, a wonderful mountain landscape, – Gottesberg – Dittersbach, where ten furnaces were working at full capacity which turned the sky red from the glowing coal. The train then carried them to Königszelt – Breslau – Oppeln – Ratibor – Oderberg – Chybie – Auschwitz – Skawina- Krakau – Bochnia – Tarnow – Stroze  Biecz – Jaslo – Sanok, where they arrived on 5 September at midnight. “You can see it was a journey across half of Europe. I would rather do without it and go home. Our kitchen was on an open carriage. So we had a good view, but also lots of wind, dirt and sun. We are dark as Negroes and dirty as pigs. Just imagine five days in the uniform without the possibility to wash properly or change clothes and very little sleep. We look like gipsies ….Today I don’t care at all: no money, nothing to smoke, nothing to drink, in one word a complete f….. I don’t need anything, just please send me writing paper, a pencil and razor blades.” The only certainty for Toni at that moment was that he would stay in the kitchen, which for him was the best option for the time being.

THE EUROPEAN ECONOMY AT THE END OF THE 20th CENTURY

Vienna, 8th district

Europe’s long post-war boom had its counterpart in other parts of the world economy, especially in Japan. The Japanese boom was longer and stronger from the late 1940s until the early 1970s, when the growth rate of GNP was more than 10% annually. Reasons for this stunning performance were the technological catch-up because in the 1930s and 1940s Japan had been isolated, and now many technological innovations could be borrowed at minimal cost. The high level of human capital contributed to the success and after catching up it became a leader in introducing new technology, especially in electronics and robotics. Japan could draw on high levels of savings and investment of the Japanese people and a sophistication of Japanese management with high payoffs of industrial research and innovation and the collective and cooperative spirit of the Japanese people. Also South Korea and Taiwan had very high growth rates for similar reasons with the special position of Singapore and Hong Kong, which was until 1997 under British rule. The Pacific Basin area together with Australia and New Zealand became a major actor in world economy, too.

During the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century Latin America was an important participant in the international division of labour with a comparative advantage in primary products. In the middle of the 20th century the countries of the “southern cone”, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, enjoyed per capita incomes comparable to Western Europe. Then they started programmes on import substitution and industrialisation, all of which failed due to the fact that domestic markets were too small and there was a lack of international cooperation in the region and a lack of human capital to adopt and develop the new technology. So the increase of per capita income was below that of the rest of the world and the region’s share of total world trade declined. Unfavourable trade balances, especially in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, resulted in alarming levels of international indebtedness in the 1980s. The economic conditions in Africa were even more deplorable. The new nations lacked natural and human resources and political circumstances hindered economic development, further exacerbated by ethnic enmities. Several African nations actually endured negative rates of growth of income.

The Middle East has acquired economic importance in the 20th century because of its oil resources, which were discovered in the first decade of 20th century in Persia and then in several Arab states. Until the 1950s the region accounted for as little as 15% of the world production; in comparison the USA accounted for 50% at that time. In 1960 the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) was formed and by 1970 the OPEC comprised 1/3 of the world crude oil production. In 1973, time of 4th Arab-Israeli war, they acted in cartel fashion to increase sharply the price of crude petroleum; an action they repeated a decade later with the result that the world price rose 10 times. High dependency on petroleum at that time had a devastating effect on the highly industrialised and developing economies. Developing countries suddenly faced much larger deficits in their balance of payments, which forced them more deeply into debt. Industrial nations faced “stagflation”, meaning a stagnation of output and employment together with inflationary price rises. The situation persisted from the 1970s to the 1990s and produced the highest levels of unemployment since the 1930s. Meanwhile political and religious changes in the region altered the balance of power. In 1979 an Islamic republic was established in Iran and Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the country in order to annex oil-producing regions. Nine years of war with millions of casualties followed. After a truce Saddam invaded Kuwait, which resulted in the Gulf War of 1990.

THE THIRTY GOLDEN YEARS IN EUROPE

Vienna, 7th district

The “Thirty Glorious Years” after World War II were an exceptional phase in European history. For the USA, which dominated the world economy after World War II, the era was not all that revolutionary; it merely continued the expansion of the war years. The USA had suffered no damage, had increased its GNP by two thirds and ended the war with almost two thirds of the world’s industrial production. Because of the size and advance of the US economy its performance during the “Golden Years” was not as impressive as the growth rates of other countries which started from a much smaller base. Its economy grew more slowly than in any other industrial country except Britain. The gap in productivity per man-hour between the USA and other industrial countries diminished; also in respect to national wealth in terms of GDP the other countries were fast catching up. For the European countries and Japan the overwhelming priority after 1945 was recovering from the war. For non-communist states this also meant putting the fear of social revolution and communist advance, the heritage of war and resistance, behind them. Most countries were back to their pre-war levels by 1950. The material benefits of growth took some time to make themselves felt, even in a so spectacularly prosperous region as Italy’s Emilia-Romagna. The benefits of an affluent society did not become general until the 1960s in Europe; also full employment did not become general until the 1960s, when the average of Western Europe unemployment stood at 1.5%. By then observers began to assume that somehow everything in the economy would go onwards and upwards forever. In the 1950s the economic upsurge seemed quite world-wideand independent of economic regimes. The growth rate in the USSR in the 1950s was even higher than in Western Europe, but in the 1960s it became clear that capitalism was forging ahead. Nevertheless the “Golden Age” was a world-wide phenomenon, even though general affluence never came within sight of the majority of the world’s population.

In the 1970s the disparities between different parts of the poor world had grown tremendously. In the 1980s the poor world’s food production per capita did not grow at all outside South East Asia, in some regions it even continued to fall. Meanwhile the problem of the developed world was that it produced so much surplus food that in the 1980s the European Economic Community decided to grow substantially less or to dump its butter mountains and milk lakes below cost, thus undercutting producers in the poor countries. It became cheaper to buy Dutch cheese on Caribbean islands than in the Netherlands. The growing divergence between the rich and the poor world became increasingly evident in the 1960s. The industrial world was of course expanding everywhere. Dramatic examples of industrial revolution were Spain and Finland and even purely agrarian countries like Bulgaria and Romania acquired massive industrial sectors. The world economy was growing at an explosive rate, e.g. world trade grew tenfold between the early 1950s and the early 1970s. One by-product of this extraordinary explosion was pollution and ecological deterioration, which attracted little attention in the Golden Years. The dominant ideology of progress took it for granted that the growing domination of nature by man was the very measure of human advance. Industrialisation in the socialist countries was for this reason especially blind to the ecological consequences of its massive construction of a rather archaic industrial system based on iron and smoke. Even in the West the old 19th century businessman’s motto, “Where there is muck, there is brass” (pollution means money), was still convincing, especially for road-builders and real-estate developers.  The impact of human activities on nature increased steeply from the middle of the century, largely due to the enormous increase in the use of fossil fuels. The total energy consumption tripled in the USA between 1950 and 1973. One of the reasons why the Golden Age was golden was that a barrel of Saudi oil cost less than 2$ on average in the entire period of 1950-1973, thus making energy ridiculously cheap. Ironically, it was only after 1973, when the oil-producers’ cartel finally decided to charge what the traffic would bear, that ecology-watchers took serious note of the consequences of the explosion of petrol-driven traffic. The rich Western countries naturally generated the lion’s share of this pollution, though the unusually filthy industrialisation of the USSR produced almost as much carbon dioxide as the USA. To some extent this astonishing economic explosion was a gigantic version of the continuing globalisation of the state of the pre-war USA, taking that country as the model of a capitalist industrial society. For instance the age of the automobile had long arrived in the USA, but after the war it came to Europe, e.g. Italy’s private cars counted in 1938 469 000 and in 1975 15 million. Cheap fuel made the truck and the bus the major means of transport over most of the globe’s land-mass. Much of the great world boom was thus a catching up, or in the USA a continuation of old trends. The model of Henry Ford’s mass production spread across the oceans to new auto industries. In the USA the Fordist principle was extended to new kinds of production, from house-building to junk food, e.g. McDonald’s was a post-war success story. Goods and services previously confined to minorities were now produced for a mass market, as in the field of mass travel to sunny beaches. Before the war never had more than 150,000 North Americans travelled to Central America or the Caribbean in any year, but between 1950 and 1970 their numbers grew to 7 million. The European figures were even more spectacular; Spain which had virtually no mass tourism before the late 1950s welcomed 54 million foreign visitors per year in the 1980s and Italy 55 million. What had once been a luxury became the expected standard of comfort in Western countries: the refrigerator, the washing machine, the telephone. It was now possible for the average citizen to live as only the wealthy had lived in their parents’ days, except of course that mechanisation had now replaced personal servants.

THE ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF WORLD WAR II & REBUILDING OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMY

Vienna, Zentralfriedhof, Jewish cemetery

It was by far the most destructive of all wars, often showing an intensification of features manifested in World War I, such as an increasing reliance on science as the basis of military technology, an extraordinary degree of regimentation and planning of the economy and society, a refined and sophisticated use of propaganda at home and abroad. But in other aspects World War II differed from all previous wars. It was a truly global war and directly or indirectly involved the population of almost every country in the world. World War I had primarily been a war of position; World War II was a war of movement on land, at sea and in the air, such as air warfare and naval operations, especially carrier-based aircraft. Science-based technology accounted for many of the special new weapons like the atomic bomb. Economic and industrial capacities of belligerents became decisive, as mere numbers of soldiers counted less than ever: the production line became as important as the firing line. The ultimate secret weapon of the victors was the enormous productive capacity of the American economy. The pecuniary costs involved the direct military expenditure of 1 trillion US$ contemporary purchasing power. This does not include the value of property damage which was certainly much larger, interest on war-induced national debt, pensions and so on. The war related deaths are estimated at approximately 15 million in Western Europe – 6 million military, 8 million civilian, around 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Russia accounted for 15 million deaths, half of them civilians, China for 2 million military and untold millions of civilian deaths, Japan for 1.5 million military and again untold millions of civilian deaths.

The property damage was far more extensive than in World War I. The US Airforce prided itself on strategic bombing of military and industrial targets, but the post-war strategic bombing survey showed that only 10 % of industrial plants had been permanently destroyed, but 40% of civilian dwellings. Some cities were virtually levelled by German and Allied bombers leaving unknown numbers of casualties, for example Hamburg, Dresden, Coventry, Rotterdam, Leningrad and many more. Transportation facilities were special targets; at the end of the war every bridge over the Loire was destroyed and all but one over the Rhine (Remagen bridgehead). All combatants resorted to economic warfare. Great Britain imposed a blockade like during the Napoleonic wars and World War I and Germany retaliated by unrestricted submarine warfare. Germany introduced so-called “ersatz commodities” such as gasoline from coal and took command over resources of occupied territories. In 1943 Germany extracted more than 36% of French national income and in 1944 30% of German industrial labour was non-German slave labour.

At the end of the war the economic outlook in Europe was extremely bleak; the industrial and agricultural outlook was half that of 1938, millions of people were uprooted, there was the danger of starvation and the institutional framework of the economy was severely damaged. Before the war Europe had imported more than it exported in foodstuffs and raw materials. It paid for the difference with the earnings of its foreign investments and shipping and financial services. After the war Europe’s merchant marines were destroyed, foreign investments liquidated and financial markets in disarray. Europe’s overseas markets had been captured by Americans, Canadians and firms in formerly underdeveloped countries. Europe faced the threat of starvation, disease, lack of clothing and shelter, victors and vanquished alike. There was urgent need for emergency relief and reconstruction. Two main channels of relief came from the US. As the Allied armies advanced across Western Europe in 1944/45 they distributed emergency rations and medical supplies to the population, enemy as well as liberated. The distribution of emergency rations for the defeated German population continued after the end of the war. Furthermore UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) distributed food, clothing, medical supplies, whereby the US bore 2/3 of the costs. The US made available about 4 billion $ to Europe and 3 billion $ to the rest of the world for relief.

In contrast to Europe the USA emerged from the war stronger than before, to a lesser extent Canada, the other Commonwealth nations and some Latin American countries. They were spared from direct damage and profited from the high wartime demand which permitted full use of capacity, technological modernisation and expansion. Many economists feared a depression after the war in the USA, but when wartime rationing and price controls, which held prices at artificially low levels, were removed, consumer demand for war-scarce commodities created a post-war inflation and kept the wheels of the US industry turning, which enabled the US to extend needed economic aid to Europe.