Austria

Of a Death in Vienna

This morning, as I was sifting through my pile of unread books trying to decide on which one to go for next I found one abandoned right next to John le Carré’s A Perfect Spy. It was the copy of Daniel Silva’s A Death in Vienna my Isareli friend had sent me years ago attaching a note of how it reminded her of “all the talks we had on [her] roof terrace” and how it summed it all up neatly to her. I felt guilty because even though I had promised I never got around to reading it in those rather chaotic years since.

silva - death in vienna

Maybe I should have stuck with the le Carré.

In the six years (is it really that long already?) I have had this blog I have avoided writing about the Shoah and the way it is dealt with from the Austrian perspective. In part because for a long time I would not have found the words to do so and, for a bigger part, because I did not want this to be a blog that contributed to reducing thousands of years of Jewish – or Austrian, for that – cultural history to a hand full of decades.

The conversation I had, back in Tel Aviv, with a bunch of business partners probably sums it all up neatly. It is a stereotype, I know, but one that does not lack of truth:

“They say Austrians are the best diplomats in the world. Because you made the whole world think Hitler was German and Beethoven was Austrian.” he said, challenging me with a smirk of Israeli bluntness.

I smiled back, took the challenge: “But why? It is true after all, isn’t it?” Now I have his attention.
“Wasn’t Hitler a German when he died? And wasn’t Beethoven buried at Vienna’s Central Cemetery?”
I fixed his gaze with a light, almost childish smile as I added: “If you determined nationality by their place of birth – how many Isareli heroes would you have left?”

He could not help but conclude that the rumour about Austrians, after all, seemed to be quite correct.

It is true that we Austrians were slack in prosecuting our war criminals, I will not argue against it nor will I defend it. We were no angels, we had our monsters too. And it is true that, just like the rest of Europe, we have the far right creeping into our parliament again and again. Since the recent Gaza war I have even seen an upwards trend in anti-Jewish resentment and the same old stereotypes against “wealthy world-Jewry”. Frankly, for maybe the first time I have started to grasp why some of my Jewish friends have never quite felt safe in Austria. But reading Silva’s views today that, apparently, made him a #1 bestseller made my blood boil with his blatant, uncritical use of stereotype.

In a nutshell after introducing Vienna as a place where “men still wear feathered Tyrolean caps [and] women still found it fashionable to wear a Dirndl” (I had to double-check here to confirm the book was actually published in 2003) Silva goes on to describe the Austrian secret service as run by a ultra-right wing maniac not only acting far outside the law but also quite capable of torture and murder in order to cover up for his Nazi friends. And all of that in light of human-rights activist groups that knew about it but nobody would quite listen to them. I had the feeling, sometimes, that he saw Austria as almost of the brink to a second Holocaust at the drop of a pen although that notion might have been exaggerated by my own hurt pride into my homeland.

waldheimat_intro

Anti-Waldheim Protests in Vienna, 1986 (C) Demokratiezentrum Wien

I was in Israel when former Austrian president and UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim died and I remember the uproar vividly. And when I read up on the subject what I found were pages and pages of 1980s Austrian newspaper reports condemning him; I found photographs of a wooden horse being dragged through the streets of Vienna with a plaque around its neck that said “I remember” in reference to Waldheim’s own claim not to remember a thing. And all of that even though even a Nazi-hunter as fierce as Simon Wiesenthal could never find any grounds to prosecute Waldheim for war crimes.

“Ich war nicht bereit, Kurt Waldheim als Nazi oder Kriegsverbrecher zu attackieren, weil er nach Einsichtnahme in alle mir zur Verfügung stehenden Unterlagen weder das eine noch das andere war.”

I was not ready to attack Kurt Waldheim as a Nazi or war criminal because after looking through all files available to me [I found] he was neither the one nor the other.

(Simon Wiesenthal, Das Amt und die Pflicht, in: Die Presse, Sonderausgabe “2000”, December 1999, S. 57f)

That is Austria too. The silent majority actually, I will argue.

Yes, there are still the elderly that will tell you casually over a cup of tea how “everything was better under Hitler”, our dirty laundry that will not come clean. And yes, there are also the young that once again will tell you the same old story of how “the Rothschilds” apparently somehow control the world. But that is not all Austria is just like during the occupation (I know I will be crucified if not blood-eagled for using the word) the frantic helpers of National-Socialist Germany were not all Austria was.

I grew up with stories – little stories, told casually, not as great deeds – of local farmers hiding Jews, of people leaving food out or giving clothes.  It was only during my time in Israel that I stumbled upon some of the bigger stories too. The most documented maybe is that of hostess Liesl Geisler-Scharetter feeding thousands of Jewish DPs on their way to Italy and Israel. Her story, though, is but one of many that were never told outside the family; it is far from unusual for my simple, hospitable people. If you can do those little things, then you do. It is the Austrian nature that we do not care about making a big fuss about those things because to us they are self-explanatory. We do them because they are right, not because of what others will say about us.

Liesl Geisler-Scharfetter doing the dishes for DPs fleeing to Israel (C) Alpine Peace Crossing

Liesl Geisler-Scharfetter doing the dishes for DPs fleeing to Israel (C) Alpine Peace Crossing

But then, yes, we also do not care about being heroes either. It is the Austrian nature to hide in the pubs and the homes during hard times and wait until the storm blows over. And if we have to do the occasional Sieg Heil and raise a couple of flags in order to be left alone then, yes, we will do that too. And in our complacency we looked on as Millions were killed, retreating into the comfortable bubbles around us with our fingers in our ears so we could lock out the torment going on around us.

Silva, and I realise many alongside him, see a systemic issue where there is none. Are there right-winged nutcases sprinkled all over Austrian society? Certainly. But I cannot for the love of me imagine we have a Manfred Kruz that can get away with killing and torturing in the name of keeping it all under wraps. If there was I am convinced he would find an end not unlike that of the rogue Zalachenko club in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; brought to justice by our very own constitutional protection units working within the law and following due process of a modern and just legal system.

Frankly, I am sick and tired of Austria being portrayed as a backwater still stuck in 1940s thinking every time attacking Germany becomes unfashionable for one reason or the other. I am sick and tired of the one-dimensional view most of the world seems to have and I know we Austrians make it easy because it is in our nature not to care too much about what others think. Most of us will not raise an eyebrow on reading Silva’s accounts because we do not think it is worth the effort of trying to change how some Americans that have probably never left their own continent see us. My own mum, if she would read this would probably tell me I was wasting my energy – and I guess she is right about it too.

Migdalit

protecting families

Hey everybody,

So, I’m living in Germany for the moment, so why don’t write a little bit about Germany. Who says, in the end, that it have to be those kick ass exotic locations expats have to write about?

Germany, like other European countries, has included the protection of the family in its basic law. Reality, however, looks different. Reality here is tough. There would be the definition of a „family“ in the first place. Right now there’s quite a hullabaloo going on about Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s (male) life partner accompanying him whenever possible – even paying for the stay himself. Of course, homosexuality still is a difficult topic in Germany, where equality is achieved slowly and with many drawbacks. Public opinion is, at best, still controversial. It for sure is remarkable that in a climate like that Mr Westerwelle hasn’t only come out on the issue, but as well chosen to remain living his relationship as what it is, the most natural thing in the world, when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in Autumn 2009.

However the problem of „defintion“ of a family of course isn’t limited on homosexual relationships. For one whilst in other countries, such as Australia or South Africa the „defacto marriage“ has become acknowledged for, for instance, visa issues German authorities have chosen a different approach: They label something „family“ depending on whether it benefits them. So if two people obtaining social welfare money („Hartz IV“) are sharing an apartment they are considered partners meaning that they get less money per person then would they live alone. This leads to situations as curios as room mates not being accepted for social welfare because the other room-mate (!) has an income. And as this also applies for alimony, room mates have, as well, found themself transferring money to their ex-room mates as ordered by court because court found them partners for no more then the fact that they chose to share an apartment.

On the other hand if the acknowledgement of a partnership would mean the state having to give or let go of money nothing short of a valid (and best of German) marriage certificate will get people the status of being „a family“. This is true for migration issues (going as far as European Union internal migration), tax issues and all kind of assistance a family might be suspect to. There just is no such thing as a „defacto marriage“ in German legal terminology. Thus if I ever happened to be unemployed in Germany I would likely find myself in the situation of having to marry my boyfriend so he could insure me and in order to avoid possible deportation (!) from Germany because accompanying of a life partner is not a valid reasons for intra-EU migration.

Companies, however, aren’t that focused on marriage certificates. My boyfriend and me can get a shared insurance and stuff. And for the rest of it it’s mostly a matter of good luck and HR person’s mood anyhow. One declared the whole furniture of our apartment belonging to me and tried to pressurize us into being happy we got as much as a car to transport the stuff – which she didn’t get away with. For that person as „only“ a life partner I wasn’t existant whatsoever. During the next relocation with another HR person of the same company in charge little difference was made between me and a legally married spouse. But, other than during relocation no. 1 she was very helpful from the beginning whilst HR person no. 1 was a pain in the ass to begin with.

And then companies and the state alike have long given up any idea of „protection of the family“. For instance the „Agentur für Arbeit“ (Bureau of Occupation) has been known for making unemployed moms accept jobs on the other side of Germany regardless of extended families, therefor important assistance for that single mom, being ripped apart. Having one spouse accept a job hundreds of kilometers away, so all he sees of his family is when he drives home for the weekend, is considered pretty normal by both government agencies and companies applying deeply family unfriendly relocation policies. Nobody can tell me this is considered „protection of the family“.

Families are ripped apart without reconsideration and without much possibilities to object however state and companies have little to offer to fill the voids caused thereby. I’ve seen plenty of young moms trapped with their children because stranded in a strange town without the slightest assistance they have nobody to look for their children even for some hours. And this is not talking about kindergarten opening hours, which have nothing to do with adult’s working hours. In fact in today’s Germany you can feel lucky as much as obtaining a place at the kindergarten and this with personnel being paid so badly that they have been on strike twice since we moved here.

Probably I should state here that this is far from being an exclusively German problem. Marrying in Israel, for instance, where only marriages by religious officials, haredim, if Jewish, are legal, can be a problem to secular or non-Jewish Israelis and definition problems of „family“ are pretty the same in Austria – in other European countries unmarried couples have even less rights than in Germany / Austria. However it seems to me that whilst in Austria cases where that kind of approach really did destroy families are seldom to be found, in Germany they are considered normal. If I complain about my boyfriend’s company’s transferring policy giving me a hard time and probably forcing me into a decision between my life partner (thus family) and my career (or me working at all) I am constantly looked at like I was a green-skinned alien. And if my eyes nearly come falling out when somebody – once more – tells me about families being ripped apart all I get from Germans nearby is a blank look.

This is the one thing I don’t get about Germans: Why have they given up themselves? Why have they allowed themselves to become so afraid of their own shadow they don’t dare to see anymore that most of the shit happening in this place was caused by no less than themselves?

yours,

Migdalit

I Ain’t German!

Hey guys,

I’m still going through a terrible time here. Germany and me just won’t find a common stance. After having lived in a country as strange as Israel, with all these issues I never had to think about before all around me and still finding so much happiness and joy there, it comes as a shock to move next door, from Austria to Germany, and feel like I came there all the way from Mars. Especially given that I have already lived in Bavaria for two years and, though there have been issues about identity and feeling accepted during those final months, have never felt such a complete stranger back then.

It’s not about Germans not knowing how to take care of this year’s masses of snow. It’s not about Germans not knowing how to drive a car in hilly land either. Those are actually the things about Germany that make me giggle. Perhaps because it boosts my patriotism, perhaps because it makes them look so human – or perhaps both of all. When you move abroad you expect things and people to be different after all.

Perhaps, I am pondering these days, a part of the ongoing issue between Germany and me is just about this: How people don’t see Austrians aren’t Germans. We seem to be so similar on the first glimpse. We speak the same language and a lot of our customs, the way we dress looks similar. We share quite a few pages of history too. So maybe when you are an Austrian living in Germany people just expect you to fit in. To assimilate instead of integrate. And with “people” I mean those on either side of the border. The border, that in a way, doesn’t exist anymore since the Schengen accords that opened Europe up to people and goods.

The truth is Austrians aren’t Germans. It’s not politically correct to speak about differences these days. I don’t care. Austrians aren’t Germans as little as Bavarians are Saxons as little as Upper Austrians are Viennese. Perhaps it doesn’t matter in places like the US, in places like Israel or South Africa where people relocating from one side of the continent to another a couple of times during their live is everyday business. In Middle Europe it does matter. In Middle Europe people don’t know what it is like to be the new gal in town. People don’t understand how hard it is to find friends if you haven’t gone to school in this place, if you haven’t played in the same sand pit as the other kids. After more than a year back to Germany and three relocations during these 13 months I still have no clue how to meet people my age and how to make friends in Germany. I haven’t yet found out where they meet or how I could approach them without scaring them away, for every social activity in Germany seems to be knitted after a harsh set of rules I do not know. But people don’t know about that. They think as an Austrian I am as good as a German (apart from these guys who still think Austrians climbed out of their caves just some years ago) and they expect I do know about German society rules. But I don’t.

I’m not going into what was better in Israel or South Africa or such. It’s no use. Sure, if I could I would just pack my things, board the next plane to Tel Aviv and sit in Gan HaYarkon crying until the world feels alright again. I did that 16 months ago, so I know what I’m talking about. Right now, however, I have to face that I am trapped in the one country that probably fits my personality least. I have to face that I have to make the most out of it for the time being. There will be a day when I’ll be able to sit at strange river again and cry until there are no tears left. For simple relief that it’s over. Until then I’ll have to confuse Germans with my smile. Until then I’ll have to learn those zillions of unspoken rules – so I can break them in the most elegant way. And when I leave this town perhaps some people will have found out that Austrians aren’t Germans.

yours,

Migdalit

this single piece

Hello,

It seems like I’m slowly developing a thing for art. I was at a local art museum today, where they featured a rather small exhibition on contemporary art and there was one piece that really caught me:

Sleep 9 by Gottfried Helnwein

Sleep 9 by Gottfried Helnwein

its title is “Sleep 9” and it is a painting of a photograph both by Gottfried Helnwein, an Austrian artist. Of all the pieces in the gallery she wouldn’t let go of me quite so easily. Not only that she seemed to look directly at me with those weird eyes, no matter from where I tried to take a look on her. Not only that she doesn’t seem to be fully human, somehow, but something else, something more disturbing. Or is it only me?

Perhaps, after all this is the fascination of art: The way it reflects less the artist’s intention, but your own mind. I wonder if somebody else looking at the same portrait of a child would see the same emotions in her eyes. I wonder if that person would feel as disturbed as I do trying to take on her look. Everybody has to carry a shadow of his own, after all …
When I was a child my dad would take me to a lot of exhibitions. Sometimes I found them nothing but boring, but my dad would always know the story that goes with the picture, or at least he would know where to point my eyes at and make every painting a small wonderland to explore. I would never develop a true interest into art back then, but he did shape my eyes, he did teach me to look behind the obvious and don’t believe a title or description, but look for myself. It’s funny how after all these years I can still hear him talk to me when I look at an interesting piece; how he explains things to me. But still it was nothing but a picture, a strange adult-thing, to me back then.

Today, sometimes, the canvas and the colors are more. They open doors to magic realms of myself or the world. Perhaps art is a kind of magic, after all, a tool that teaches you about your self and your own perception. And just like magic you need to be ready for it. Not for art in general, probably, but for this single picture, this single piece of magic.

philosophically yours,

Migdalit

Children’s Believes

Shalom and Merry Meet everybody,

Back home in Austria – which at the moment is covered in snow just like you’d find it on postcards – for the holidays I’ve had little time for my blog, however found a beautiful poem at A Few Stitches Short which I’d like to post for you:

At Christmas time I believe the things that children do.

I believe with English children that holly placed in windows will protect our homes from evil.

I believe with Swiss children that the touch of edelweiss will charm a person with love.

I believe with Italian children that La Befana is not an ugly doll but a good fairy who will gladden the heart of all.

I believe with Greek children that coins concealed in freshly baked loaves of bread will bring good luck to anyone who finds them.

I believe with German children that the sight of a Christmas tree will lessen hostility among adults.

I believe with French children that lentils soaked and planted in a bowl will rekindle life in people who have lost hope.

I believe with Dutch children that the horse Sleipner will fly through the sky and fill the earth with joy.

I believe with Swedish children that Jultomte will come and deliver gifts to the poor as well as to the rich.

I believe with Finnish children that parties held on St.Stephen’s Day will erase sorrow.

I believe with Danish children that the music of a band playing from a church tower will strengthen humankind.

I believe with Bulgarian children that sparks from a Christmas log will create warmth in human souls.

I believe with American children that the sending of Christmas cards will build friendships.

I believe with all children that there will be peace on earth.

– Daniel Roselle

Here in Austria, by the by, children believe in the Christkind, the “Christ Child”, basically a special child angel of Christmas who rides a sleigh laden with gifts all the way to people’s homes. Before Christmas children would write lists of wishes to the Christkind. In Upper Austria there even is a place called Christkindl where children can send those lists of wishes to. Also people would send their holiday wishes there so they got a post stamp saying “Christkindl” before being relayed to their recipient by the post office. I remember my family used to have small wooden dolls featuring the Christkind as christmas tree adornments, which would feature it on its sleigh as well as on skies and always wearing those cute red-white woolen hats.

Media and advertisement companies have been trying to replace the local custom of the Christkind with the globalized Coca-Cola version of Santa Clause for some years now, but it seems to me that the harder they try to get rid of the Christkind the more stubborn the people of Austria grow holding on to it. There are groups on Facebook, there are stickers … there’s just all you’d need for a decent rally. It’s an important part of our identity and childhood memories, after all. No matter where life or religious perspectives led us – as far as I am concerned.

all christmasy

yours,

Migdalit

Being a Stranger

Shalom there,

quite a while ago, when DoppelpassSchmetterlingsfrau said farewell to her blog’s readers, and when I read that last article about how even after years she still felt like a stranger in Israel and, ultimately, returned back home to Germany feeling at home at last, I had a deep look into my own feelings in Israel and just couldn’t help but assume  something terrible must have happened to her to make her feel that unwelcome. After all, her conclusion was something like when you lived in a foreign country, for any given time, either you accept that you will never truly belong there, or you face that you eventually have to move back home. Strange enough this seemed to be the typical argumentation anti-immigration, only voiced by a (former) migrant.

Perhaps my own experience of very quickly feeling somehow Israeli-ish doesn’t count, for it was just too short, but then there are people like Lila or Beer7 who have been living in Israel long enough to raise their family there and, no matter how hard I try, I could never read a single line suggesting that they were anything but happy with their decision. So the topic kept me thinking. And of course this is the direct track to Middle Europe‘s – existing or constructed – migration problem. Migration, of course, in both directions, as in Europeans emigrating from their countries of origin, as well als people immigrating into Middle Europe. Where, according to Schmetterlingsfrau’s conclusions, integration of migrants could never be achieved.

I do belong to those people who feel Middle Europe is too small for them for one reason of another. Just recently I had a discussion with A., a friend in Vienna who, very like Schmetterlingsfrau, suggested I’d eventually return to Middle Europe because of being too blue-eyed and exclusively belonging here anyway so I better stayed in the first place. Of course I heavily disagreed. But the remark got me thinking even more heavily.

The longer I considered Schmetterlingsfrau’s words, the more sense they did make to me, in the end. There is another part in her article, besides “go back home!“. There’s that part telling you “you’ll never become 100% Israeli / whatever”. Perhaps this is the key! Not dismissing one’s identity of origin even if living in another country for years and decades. Becoming something like 50% Austrian and 50% Israeli. After all one’s cultural identity of origin does heavily shape a person. Why deny it? With my work in Israel, acting as a bridge between Austria and Israel, this came to me very naturally and never appeared to be special. Just like Lila’s and Beer7’s way of keeping contact with Germany by means of their blogs. But if I take a look around I see I was wrong. How many people have been migrating and thinking they leave it all behind? And how many of them have eventually despaired and returned to their country of origin’s identity altogether?

If you have a look around in Austria’s migrant’s families pre ~1990 this can be pretty clearly seen. Austria, as the one country in the very heard of Europe, does have a very long tradition of immigration. Just have a look at the names of people. Vranitzky isn’t exactly German-sounding after all. However Austrian migrant families have managed to integrate into Austrian society, whilst what today’s so-called migration politic is all about is not about integration but about assimilation, even though they might call it integration. About becoming 100% Austrian / German / whatever, which just won’t ever possibly work. You can’t leave behind the best part of your life, just because of taking on another citizenship. But you can become a part of both societies and cultures. You can be Austrian and Israeli or German and Turkish at one time.

And if you’d ask me there’s nothing more fun for a kid then roaming a schoolmate’s Turkish-Austrian birthday party with his mother cooking all those delicious Turkish stuff with random Austrian mainstream music in the background in a house that is … well, just 50/50.

YUMMI!

yours,

Migdalit

The Imbred Antisemitism of Upper Austria

Hello there,

Reading „der Lindwurm“’s blog on an Austrian Nazi-guy in a Klagenfurt hospital I started wondering about how much really is left of Nazi opinion in Austria. As a matter of fact the whole topic never was anyhow important to me until – and this awas mostly good luck – I ended up going to Tel Aviv. The only story of my own I can share here is on Skinheads in the Austrian town of Ried – besides Braunau the one Upper Austrian town to be known for a serious Skinhead problem. When visiting friends in Ried as a teenager I got to know first-hand about a „Skins night out“ – even if only later I learnt the term to go with it. We were just enjoying ourselves when we heard drunken singing comming close. I couldn’t even understand the words but the locals knew very well. And they knew the night was over; we went back home and in the next morning I saw the windows that had been destroyed by multiple flying objects.

Skinheads, true, but I have always had that theory that if you shaved the head of some other drunk, hitting-each-other youthgroup and put them in the midst of a Skinhead gang nobody would recognize – and vice versa. (I would love to try this one day!) I have never perceived Skinheads as a problem of nazi revival, but rather as a problem of empty youth’s heads filled with the first brainless slogan that came their way, paired with violence aired at the first target available. There is no nazi motive behind scaring other teenagers and breaking random windows. All there is as a motive is the orgasm of power in a group.

However I have a very dear and good Jewish Israeli friend – who has never actually been to Germany and to Austria only later – who wouldn’t get tired of explaining to me that Germans and Austrians were racist, antisemitic nazis in the midst of their heard as if it was bred into both peoples. When I had her over for Christmas / Yule a year later she told me she was afraid. She told me to think twice whom I told she was a Jew. But she trusted me enough to come.

There sure is trouble when you are actively looking for it. My father – to whom I owe the delight in debates and politics – said one sentence she took as a sign for hidden antisemitism and she would be telling me she told me for the rest of her stay. It was the old thing about „The Jews killed Jesus“ she keeps pointing at as the cause of the inbred antisemitism of Europe. And of course he – he’s my dad, remember – said so exactly because I had dropped the phrase would send her ablaze. My father might be Christian, but he is no kind of after-the-book Christian, but one by heard and daily life. Even if „the Jews“ indeed killed Jesus it would be no more for him then – plain – history. Besides before S. got me started on the issue I had never heard a sentence like „The Jews killed Jesus“, nor had I ever been aware of anyone using it to push antisemitism.

What I was pretty aware of during and before those weeks she spent with me in Austria was the out-of-the-book Austrian hospitality that arose as soon as I announced her comming. People all the way from my family to my friends made such an efford! People kept my telephone busy asking questions about kosher cusine. My dad, for instance, who runs a restaurant had invited us over for the staff Christmas dinner. He’s normally doing Austrian cuisine full of pork, creamy sauces and butter as a basic ingredience to every dish imaginable. S. would just offer she’d stick to vegetables but by dad wouldn’t have any of it. I don’t know how many hours I spent on the phone with him figuring out how to change the dinner so S. would have a decent meal. Funny enough that way we created a dish – a kind of a chicken „Schweinsbraten“ – that has made it to his menue as a low-fat alternative afterwards. People at the dinner – as far as their English supported it – were really great too. They were so warm and interested in Israel and kosher kitchen. Not from the conflict-perspecitve and not from the Jew-as-something-odd-perspecitive but simply from the „What do you eat there?“ „What are beautiful places to go?“ „Do you ever get to see snow?“ kind of angle. Exactly this was the naive, genuine reaction of random Austrians to the first ever Israeli and Jew they had met.

My mom made an efford showing off Austria. I know she was absolutely enjoying it. So we drove down to Gmunden – which is were the Alps start – and though it was terribly cold and we had a good laugh about S. being clad like a Yeti it was magic. We took a cable car up one of the mountains driving over the mist that covered the valley. At the snowy top of the mountain we had a breathtaking view at mountain tops rising over the mist. It looked like in a cheesy movie and my mom nearly bust from pride when S. pointed out it could stand besides the view of the Himalaya.

No, as far as (Upper) Austrians go, there definitely is no imbred racism or antisemitism or alike. There wasn’t a single raise of an eyebrow during all the stay that would have let me assume somebody objecting S. as a Jew or Israeli. There weren’t any second thoughts on whom to have her meet or where to take her to. What was there, instead, was an overwhelming hospitality I’ve heard people report on but had, until then, never experienced first-hand. Hospitality and pride showing off a small country I openly declare deserves it.

yours,

Migdalit