[A wave of immigrants around 1900]
[The battle for the Nibelung district]
[The battle for the Komensky district]
[Attempts at mediation]
[Hitler on the Czechs]
Hitler's Vienna
A dictator's apprencticeship
by Brigitte Hamann

Czechs in Vienna

The battle for the Nibelung district

In the summer of 1909 the German-national terror reached one of its peaks. It was triggered by an insignificant event: a Viennese Czech tourist club planned a Sunday boat trip on the Danube to Wachau" failing to consider the fact that many hundred years before, the Nibelungs had roamed through that very landscape" which was why the German- nationals claimed the area for themselves as "arch-Germanic. Here, in Wachau, was where the Schönerians had celebrated the two-thousand- year anniversary of the Battle of Noreia at the summer solstice in 1888 and introduced their Germanic calendar. Here was where the German- Templars around Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels had their order's castle" Werfenstein.

At any rate, the Pan-Germans were not willing to allow the "desecration" of the German Wachau by the "Slavs" and called on all pan-German clubs to travel to Melk and "receive" the Czechs there, for as the Alldeutsches Tagblatt wrote, a mass rally such as the state of Lower Austria has never seen, shall destroy the desire of these Slavic intruders, and of those Social Democratic gentlemen too" ever again to feel like going on such "harmless' tourist outings," and, in the words of a spokes - man of the "League of Germans in Lower Austria", Melk will resemble an army camp this Sunday-already , four to five thousand guests are announced."

Many members of the Czech tourist club were workers and members of the Social Democratic Party" which offered to help them in their troubled situation. Yet the club refused the offer, as it did not want to politicize the conflict unnecessarily.

The Arbeiterzeitung at any rate, took a clear stand, in a scoffing editorial on the "Wachau Landsturm" : "Six hundred tourists with their wives and children a danger to German Melk! And the ghosts of the Nibelungs are being conjured up! Our worst enemy couldn't have construed a more ridiculous situation for the German people in Austria." The editorial continued by saying that the tourists were workers "who have laid aside dime after dime for a long time to afford the modest and harmless pleasure of a ride on the Danube for themselves and their families. If for no other reason, the brutality alone would be disgusting with which the hard-earned, sorely deserved pleasure for people who surely have hardly any joy and recreation is being interfered with and spoiled, for the sake of a pathetic brawl." Such "absurd brawling" created "a situation which is intolerable in a metropolis."

During a talk with Vienna's police president, the tourist club's president agreed to the suggestion not to dock the boat in Melk so as not to endanger "the women and children on board." Under German-national pressure, the Chapter of Melk kept its gate locked anyway, and Melk's innkeepers wanted to "refuse serving food and drink to the tourists." The club's president promised that the club would "preserve its character as an apolitical tourist and entertainment club at all cost" and also do without national flags and emblems.

After this compromise was reached, the authorities permitted the trip. This meant total police protection during the entire ride. The military was kept ready. Mounted police oversaw the embarkation near the Reich Bridge on Saturday evening, and police also closed bridges over the Danube to prevent protesters from throwing stink bombs and fireworks on the boat. In any case, the federal authorities did everything they could to protect the citizens' rights.

The German-nationals protested against these police measures: "Since the Government didn't protect the Germans", they said, "the Germans would have to resort to self-help." To underscore that, rioters roamed through the city, broke out into shouts of "Boo! " in front of Social Democrat deputy Franz Schuhmeier's house, and made much noise in front of taverns where Czechs met.

The much-discussed Wachau trip turned out to be relatively harmless: toward six in the morning the boat Franz Josef passed Melk's dock in a considerable distance. Because the early train from Vienna still had not arrived" the number of demonstrators was limited. Waving black-red gold flags, they rushed to the embankment. "They menacingly brandished their sticks, there was a deafening noise, and there were piercing whistles and roaring shouts of "Boo!" in the air"-this is how the Arbeiterzeitung described the event. Several trains with demonstrators arrived in the morning. The mood heated up under the influence of the heat and alcohol.

Czechs in Vienna "Wachau trip"

When the boat returned around noon, the early-morning spectacle repeated itself. According to the Alldeutsches Tagblatt, approximately nine thousand demonstrators lined up against the Czechs at the dock, which was not used: "Thousands of Germans were posted in along line. The black-red-gold flags fluttered in the wind" and indignant shouts rose powerfully across the river to the blinding white boat with its Czech cargo" which couldn't be set ashore. The "Wacht am Rhein' concluded the magnificent defense rally of Melk." Afterward the demonstrators went into the taverns, where more speeches were held. T o quote an example: "This defense has achieved everything it set out to achieve-keeping the Czech club from touching the German Wachau's soil with their Czech club motto. ... Let us rejoice, Germans at the success of our defense!"

The Third Reich made a point of picking up the Wachau's German - national tradition. Thus at a significant date, the day of the referendum on the "Greater German Empire," on April 10, 1938, the NSDAP's Völkischer Beobachter published an enthusiastic two-page article, "The Wachau as a German Stronghold." Germans had settled there as far back as the Stone Age, it reported: "Proud Germans grew up on magnificent soil." "Heroic Germanic courage" had vanquished all enemies" even the Romans : " They slayed lions which were sicked on them in battle with oak sticks from the German forest." The article described the era of the Hapsburgs and the World War: "Degenerate people, aliens in the German nation" roamed through the Ostmark with a false name of God and their Heimat on their lips. German heroism and the German spirit were maimed and disfigured, and ridiculed. ...The German character was considered strange in their own country."

The article concluded : "Then one day loud, unanimous shouts of joy rose to the sky : " Adolf Hitler has liberated the Ostmark" ...Only now have the land of the Nibelungs and Wachau regained their true destination: to be a bulwark of the Greater German Empire."


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