AustriaWe look at Austria through rose-coloured glasses, as a country where everyone loves waltzes, Mozart, Sacher cake, coffee, schnitzel and beer, albeit in a different order. Meanwhile, we are forgetting how varied the country is in terms of its geography, culture, and identity, stretched between two lakes – Neusiedl and Constance. Austria did not emerge ready-made on the map of Europe, but gradually built its identity and shaped its image.
To Joseph Roth, the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was, along with World War I, the greatest tragedy of his life. However, the brutal cut that marked the end of the old world so beloved by the monarchists pining for the era of Franz Joseph I, became the beginning of a new European republic. Over the Cold War years, we watched Austria somewhat jealously, as it ended up on the better side of the Iron Curtain. Even when the republic – reborn in 1955 – struggled with its own demons from the more and less distant past, it still seemed a land of milk and honey to us. Skiers daydreamed about schussing down the Alpine pistes, readers explored the prose of ruthless Austrian writers with enchantment, music lovers made pilgrimages to Salzburg, and those passionate about art and architecture inevitably ended up in Vienna.
We see Austria through rosetinted glasses: here is a country where everyone celebrates waltzes, Mozart, Sachertorte, coffee, schnitzels and beer, although in various orders. Meanwhile, we forget the diversity of geography, culture and identity of this country, stretched between Lake Neusiedl and Constance. The landscape is further enriched by the mountainous Carinthia and the low-lying Burgenland, both regions home to a significant percentage of national minorities. Austria did not simply manifest on the map of Europe in its final form. Instead, it established its identity slowly, etching out its shape piece by piece. A 20thcentury Austrian had to shed the skin of a ”man without qualities” and reinvent themselves anew.
There is no border connection between our two countries and yet, especially in Kraków, we feel particularly close to Austria. We are connected by a deep sense of neighbourhood, and we are delighted to get to know it even better with the Austrian issue of Herito.
Copyright © Herito 2020