Read, Watch & Listen
Every year, we compose a list of websites, books, films, and podcasts for our Summer Academy participants. Naturally, we know how busy you are, but we promise that any time spent with these publications will greatly enrich your visit and your teaching.
Please keep checking for updates, as we add to the list continually.
Our Podcast on Vienna
Picture this: you’re a child, between the ages of 9 and 14. You’re living in Vienna You’re Jewish. So far, so good.
But it's March, 1938, when German troops are marching over the Austrian border unopposed. More than 175,000 Jews are living in Vienna and every one of them is suddenly desperate to get out of the country. Your parents included.
Then comes 9 November 1938: Reichspogromnacht. Scores of synagogues are put to the torch, hundreds of Jewish businesses are ransacked, thousands of Jewish men are beaten on the streets and a great many are shipped off to concentration camps.
In Season Two of CENTROPA STORIES, you will meet three of our interviewees whose parents took them to Vienna’s train stations and put them on Kindertransports to England, then went home to wait for the knock on the door they knew would come. You’re also going to meet three people who fled with their entire families and, respectively, ended up hiding in Budapest, sent to a prison camp in Kazakhstan, and even to a British army prison in the Indian Ocean.
Our Film: Vienna, its Jews and, the 20th Century
Vienna began the 20th century as the capital of one of Europe’s grandest empires and its cultural output dazzles us still: the music of Gustav Mahler, the philosophy of Ludwig Wittengstein, the exploration of the psyche by Sigmund Freud. All of them were Jewish, as were 175,000 others who lived here then.
But Vienna lost her empire in 1918, and twenty years later German troops marched in. Not a single Austrian soldier fired a shot. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of Viennese rushed to Heldenplatz to welcome Adolf Hitler himself. Every Jew in Vienna desperately tried to get out of the country after 1938 and over 65,000 managed to do so before the doors slammed shut in 1940.
Those who didn’t get away were sent off to their deaths. In this film, made possible by the Claims Conference, Centropa’s director, Edward Serotta, will take you through Vienna’s troubled history—from its golden age until today. Vienna, Jews and the 20th Century was produced, shot, and edited by Roman Domnich.
Books on Vienna and its history
The Hare with Amber Eyes
by Edmund de Waal
In this highly praised book, de Waal traces the history of his family, the Ephrussis, who once rivaled the Rothschilds. A moving and exquisitely crafted family saga that takes place mostly in turn-of-the century Paris and Vienna.
Last Waltz in Vienna
by George Clare
Clare grew up in a middle class family in Vienna's eigth district, and his well-told-tale takes us through his teenage years and the family's flight from Vienna to Berlin (which he found to be far less "brown" than Vienna) following the Anschluss, and on to England. One of the best books of its kind.
Good Living Street
by Tim Bonyhady
After his grandmother's death, Bonyhady began to ask the questions that were taboo as a child: Where did all the treasures in his grandmother's flat come from? What was his family history? His inquiry takes us from his grandmother's flat in Sydney all the way to back to fin-de-siecle Vienna, where his great-grandparents were leading patrons of the arts and his great-grandmother was even a subject of a Klimt portrait. A story that combines privilege and tragedy.
The World of Yesterday
by Stefan Zweig
Although his literary reputation as a biographer and short story writer have suffered of late, Zweig wrote his elegiac portrait of a world destroyed while he was living as a refugee in Brazil in 1943. Upon completing it, he killed himself, although the world he had been born into had died long before he swallowed his poison.
The Radetzky March
by Joseph Roth
Considered by many to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Roth's stories are populated by people who have almost no redeeming values. In Roth's world, things begin well and invariably spiral downward from there. This novel is his master work, and it tells the story of the decline and collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, embodied through a singularly untalented family. Emperor Franz Josef shows up from time to time, usually eating his tafelspitz (boiled beef).
by Doron Rabinovici
There are surprisingly few books in English on the Holocaust in Austria, but Polity Press brought out a translation of Doron Rabinovici's excellent Eichmann's Jews, a study of the leadership of the Vienna Jewish community and how they were trapped into cooperating with Adolf Eichmann. A chilling, sober study and highly recommended.
The Lady in Gold
by Anne Marie O'Connor
We also recommend Anne-Marie O'Connor's The Lady in Gold,which tells the story of Gustav Klimt's painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Adele died in 1934 and in her will she asked her husband to donate the portrait to an Austrian museum. Yet in 1938 her husband fled Vienna for his life and died in greatly reduced circumstances in Switzerland. He was the painting's owner and wanted to give it to his niece, Marie Altman. The Austrians would not budge. Into the picture walked a young, relatively untested lawyer, Randol Schoenberg. O'Connor, an investigative reporter for The Los Angeles Times, digs deep into turn-of-the-century Vienna, the Second World War, and Schoenberg's battle to get the painting back. The was turned into a major motion picture, with Helen Mirren playing Marie Altman and Ryan Reynolds as Schoenberg.
Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War
by Madeleine Albright
When the Washington Post broke the news in 1997 that 12 members of then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's family had perished in the Holocaust, it came as a surprise to her. Albright didn't even realize she had Jewish heritage. This book is her intensely personal exploration of her own identity and her Czech-Jewish heritage.
How I Came to Know Fish
by Oto Pavel
Oto Pavel's childhood centered around his father and uncle's fishing adventures. But these were brutally interrupted by the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis. His father and two brothers are taken to a concentration camp, and Pavel is left to smuggle fish to feed his family, without attracting the attention of the SS. The story is truly enchanting.
by Franz Kafka
You can't talk about Czech-Jewish culture without mentioning Kafka. There are so many of his works that we would recommend, but this one is our favorite. Kafka takes us into a nightmarish labyrinth of bureaucracy, crafting in us the same sense of alienation experienced by his protagonist. A wonderful, disturbing novel.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera
Kundera is a writer of considerable talent, who went into exile in France in 1975, where he wrote this, his best-known work. Set against the background of the Prague Spring, this work deals with love, opposites, communism, music and nihilism. A book that will never leave you.