Vienna / Mauthausen

After returning to Pecs from Istanbul and Athens, we looked at the calendar and realized that we were running out of weekends to make the short trips we had planned (we head back to Evansville in 5 weeks).   So we decided to take the train to Vienna for a long weekend that included a day trip to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.  It was, as you might imagine, a weekend loaded with some wildly conflicting energies:

Day 1 – Vienna — “Holy moly, what a beautiful city!  What amazing museums!  Can you believe this Sachertorte?!  So delicious!

Day 2 – Mauthausen Concentration Camp — “Oh my God…. What a soul-shattering experience… What great depths of depraved cruelty human beings can reach.  I just want to cry…

Day 3 – Vienna again – “Wow, a Michaelangelo exhibit!   Look at these beautiful Klimts!”

I took a bunch of photos, but it’s taken me a while to sit down and go through them, partially because we’ve been really busy with stuff that I’ll post about in the next few days, but mostly I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Mauthausen again so soon.

Here are a few photos, in chronological order:

We’ve traveled to and from the main train station in Budapest 8 or 10 times now and I’ve really grown to like it.  Though the place is pretty beat up, it’s got that great European train-travel feel to it — lots of natural light in the daytime.

Our "RailJet" train in Keleti Station, Budapest. The RailJet is a sleek, modern train - gets you to Vienna in about 2.5 hours.

Our first stop on Friday morning in Vienna was the Museum of Natural History – an amazing place — they might have the largest, and easiest to view, collection of rocks and gems and such in the world.  There are at least 4 giant room just like this one:

An old room full of rocks and minerals. You could easily spend a day looking at this stuff.

The displays feel very old school - like a jewelry case.

And dinosaur bones.

Not as big as the Museum of Natural History in NYC, but still pretty cool.

Next we took a quick walk across the park to the Kunsthistorisches – the big art museum in Vienna – it’s HUGE.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is a short walk across the park.

Baroque? Yeah, maybe... a little. If you look carefully. It's certainly not overdone, I don't think.

And they allow photography in the museum, which I appreciate.  We saw a room full of busts similar to the one below in Athens – I like how they light the pieces to make them look like they’re floating in the air.

Floating heads.

More floating heads -- this woman seemed to enjoy this painting by Dirck Dircksz van Santvoort in an exhibit of Dutch artists called "The Golden Age."

This gentleman was getting in some practice.

After flying through the Kunsthistorisches, we hoofed it over to the center of the Ringstrasse to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral which was undergoing a thorough and much-needed cleaning.  Here’s a shot of one of the towers – the top has been cleaned.  They hadn’t started on the bottom yet.

It's interesting to think that we seldom see this old architecture the way it looked when it was built. It's usually covered in soot.

St. Stephens is a fine example of a romanesque cathedral. And if you're lucky, you might be able to catch a football game on the flatscreen.

Though the cathedral was mostly full of tourists, there were a few faithful lighting candles.

After gazing at art and contemplating the nature of our souls, we sat down to a well-deserved Sachertorte and latte in the Sacher Cafe.  We were feeling very Viennese at this point.

You don't want to eat more than one of these a day. Two at the most.

And that ended our first day in Vienna.

On a cloudless Saturday morning we took the 2 hour train to Mauthausen.  In March of 1944, towards the end of WWII, officials in Pecs, by order of the Nazis,turned over some 3,500 Jews to be deported, mainly to Auschwitz, though many ended up in Mauthausen (including one of Margaret’s great, great uncles) where most were executed, worked to death, starved, beaten or otherwise murdered.  There is little left of the Jewish community in Pecs, or the rest of Hungary, for that matter.  A Fulbrighter friend of ours who lives with his family in a town called Barcs a bit south of here wrote an interesting blog entry called “What Happened to the Jews.” You might want to take a look.

Here are some pix from the trip to Mauthausen – note, I’m trying not to be too gruesome here, but there are a few unpleasant shots:

The train station - we misjudged the distance from the station to the Concentration Camp, so the guy who mans the station called us a taxi.

This is the main court yard right when you enter through the gates. Eerily quiet, but you could easily imagine what took place here.

This is what it looked like some 70 years earlier as inmates await disinfection in the courtyard - July, 1941. Upon arrival, they would be stripped of their clothing, any personal items and, of course, their identities. And humanity.

The camp is a museum/memorial and they have a very good audio walking tour — except for a few areas that were being renovated, you’re pretty much free to roam about the entire camp.

This appears to be an incinerator, though I'm not entirely sure. It was in a little room just off the shower room - this opens to the other side of the wall. There were several incinerators in the camp.

This is the other side of the incinerator in previous photo.

This is part of the plumbing/piping connected to the thing that looks like an incinerator. Not sure what it is.

A large yard is surrounded with these cement posts with barbed wire.

There’s a large field in the camp full of memorials put up by various countries and groups.

This is the Czechoslovakia memorial.

This memorial was created by the government of Slovenia.

We spent about 4 hours at the camp, then called the taxi and headed back to the train station.  Driving away in a very nice Mercedes taxi cab, you wonder how people live with this place in their psyche every day – I mean the people (taxi drivers) who live and work in the town of Mauthausen.  They must be able to block it out.

The town of Mauthausen sits on the banks of the Danube - it's a beautiful place. We had some time to wait for the train, so I took some pix.

I’ve put up a web gallery with more Mauthausen photos – you can see it here if you care to look.

On Sunday we slowed down a bit, taking a long early morning walk along the Ringstrasse (the road and tram line that circles the inner part of Vienna).

There's a small dog park near the tram line that rings the city. The dogs seem more interested in their masters' cigarettes than anything else.

One of the things I noticed about Vienna is that they're not afraid to put up something cool and modern next to the old buildings.

Margaret at the entrance to the University of Vienna where her grandfather taught European history.

The Parliament in Vienna.

James jumping off a ledge at the Parliament.

We went into the Albertina Musuem (where you can’t take photos of the Michaelangelo drawings or the Picasso paintings) and then the Belvedere (also where you can’t take photos of the Klimts or the Schieles).  But you can take a photo out the window when no one is looking.

This is a view to the gardens from a second floor window in the Belvedere.

The Belveder has an amazing Klimt exhibit in their permanent collection.

Margaret and James in the gardens around the Belvedere.

Though Vienna is definitely one of the most serious and, I don’t know, formal, cities I’ve ever been to, you don’t have to eat Sachertorte and wienerschnitzel at every meal.

When you're sad and hungry, what could beat a quick bite at Happy Noodles?

Took this shot of the train bridge crossing the Danube in Mauthausen.

We took the train back to Budapest, then Pecs early Monday morning, which was the first day of Autumn Break at the ANK School.  It was also the week that included the plaque installation and ceremony in Pecs honoring Margaret’s great-great-great grandfather, Adolf Engel Janosi, whom I wrote about a few posts back.  More on that event later.

That’s it for now.  Gotta get ready to teach!


About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
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38 Responses to Vienna / Mauthausen

  1. runtobefit says:

    Great pictures…thank you so much for sharing!!!

  2. These photographs are outstanding. I especially loved the train station…so beautiful.

  3. Such cool lighting on the floating heads!

  4. Jimmy Ng says:

    amazing photographs! keep it up!

  5. thypolarlife says:

    Your photos are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing them.

  6. Nice post, it takes me back to a trip where I had the pleasure of going to Vienna and the mixed feelings of seeing Mathausen. I fell in love with Vienna and will definately go back there one day. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  7. calogeromira says:

    Mauthausen? Vienna? Wonderful images.

  8. sndenton11 says:

    Wow! Love the pictures! I especially like the inside of the museums. Not too many places allow you to take photos inside, especially art museums. Thanks for the post!

  9. anna_MArya says:

    I enjoyed your shared exploration; I undertook a similar journey from Pecs to Oswiecim for my own personal reasons. In spite of the grim associations I love nothing better than the European trains and one of my most favourite places is Keleti station in Budapest where it is enchanting to have a beer and watch the world go by (and Vienna’s a good destination, too)

  10. Jacqueline says:

    Congrats on being a freshly pressed blog today! This post was awesome; I love the pictures. And you had the perfect balance between pics and text.

  11. jaime says:

    Estoy al otro lado del Atlantico, en Medellín-Colombia, y el tener un registro grafico de una ciudad como Viena, me transporta a un glorioso pasado. Muy buenas fotos y muy acorde con los textos.

  12. Your pictures are wonderful and telling. The dogs looking for a smoke made me laugh. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  13. JoV says:

    Came back from Budapest and Vienna last 29 October 2010, awesome cities, especially Budapest. Enjoy your stay there!

  14. A very nice post. You brought back many, many memories for me. It’s been ten years already since I was in Vienna, and I very much enjoyed the photos (I was especially struck by the beauty of the busts and how much cleaner the top of St. Stephens looked. Wow!). I also visited Mauthausen, on a trip with my university, and it was such a sobering experience. I also wondered how the residents of the houses which lived within view of such a horrid place could bear to live so close. The beauty of the surrounding areas creates a sort of cognitive dissonance with the atrocities of the camp.

    Thank you for posting such beautiful pictures of the good (Sacher torte – yum!) and the difficult parts of Vienna. I hope you have a lovely trip.

  15. Pingback: Vienna / Mauthausen (via A Magyar Blog) | Altaria, one live, one world, one experience

  16. chipdewing says:

    I am glad you enjoyed Wien…I spent January through April in Wien in 1977 with 29 other students(study abroad program from Nasson College, Springvale, Maine) I have returned a few times since(last in 1990). It is a wonderful city and as a student, I had the pleasure of visiting pieces of art for hours at a time and also going to piano concertos or symphonies for free every night of the week( with enough time after the concert to enjoy the ancient wine kellers that were located several hundred feet below the street level! I am over due for a return visit…Iong to walk through the acres of maticulously preserved public parks and gardens! Sehr gemutlicheit…

  17. chipdewing says:

    By the way, check out the EsterhazyKeller (near the Hofberg Palace) Also, a trip to Grnzing to drink the new Heuriger wines and eat delicious wurst and spetzel!!! Grinzing is one of the several wine villages located in the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) Prost!

  18. Evie Garone says:

    Very nice photos…I especially liked the babies head!

  19. Pingback: Vienna / Mauthausen (via A Magyar Blog) « Fatim308's Blog

  20. slovie64 says:

    I did a semester in Vienna back in 1984. there was a great club called the Atruim right around the corner from Belvedere. I lived down the street from St. Stephen’s in a joint called Pension Pertchy.

    Brought back memories to see these photos. Thanks!

  21. Oh goodness, that was such a trip down memory lane! I loved Vienna, particularly the people. When we first arrived we were lost, and a lady stopped us to help, even switching to speak in perfect English when she realised we didn’t understand! Beautiful place, beautiful people, amazing history.

  22. Sunflowerdiva says:

    What beautiful architecture!

  23. lochgarry says:

    You have a good eye for photography.
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful, captured moments of your journey.
    And keep enjoying Europe.

  24. sayitinasong says:

    Great photos. Vienna is one of my favorite cities in the world… this makes me want to start lookign for flights…lol.

  25. Jeremy Clark says:

    Spectacular photos. Must have been a great experience in Vienna.

  26. Jan Hamlett says:

    Ahh . . . the sachertorte . . . nothing like it! Thanks for taking me back to old Vienna, an elegant city indeed.

  27. lushfun says:

    It seems the architecture is so old and classical the churches, museums, hotels, while at the same time some of it is so sad ingrained with the sins of yesterday to its very core.

  28. masact says:

    great collection of photos.

  29. svs says:

    nise photos. very good angles selected. specially the rly station roof and the museum roof paintings. thanks for posting
    svs ramarao hyderabad india

  30. Modern Funk says:

    Vienna is, indeed, a magical place. I loved my visit there — photos on my blog. Looks like you guys had a blast! Really nice photos. Congrats on FP.

  31. harindabama says:

    By far, Vienna is my favorite European city. It has so many beautiful buildings within walking distance (unlike Paris, which is also beautiful but easily make me tired for walking here and there). I love the parliament building the most.
    I also found out that in Vienna we can get meal with about the same price like in Germany, but bigger portion! This is a good thing for me :)

  32. sinwithme says:

    Great images,
    Love Vienna

  33. LushFun says:

    Updates? coming soon to a picture near you?

  34. Cool city with both the ancient and the modern….awesome pics !!!

  35. Rosie A says:

    Beautiful photos, took me back to when I was at Mauthausen myself. Such an incredible experience. The incinerator looking box next to the shower room was actually the camps only laundry machine. They would wash each prisoners clothes once every month, in the case they were still alive and the SS men did not want to smell them, otherwise they would only wash them when someone died and they would give them to the new prisoners. Hope that’s helpful. :) Thank you for sharing such beautiful photographs

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