The Myth of Galicia
Galicia, a province at the outer edge of the Habsburg Empire, was known as the ‘poorhouse of Europe’ in the period around 1900. Hunger, squalor and desperation drove over one million people into exile at the turn of the 20th century. Some Galician emigrants ran aground in Vienna. But most, driven by the hope of a better life, boarded the ocean steamers bound for the New World. Anna S. had neither wanted to go to America nor left Galicia of her own free will. The young Jewish woman was the victim of one of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s infamous ‘people traffickers’. ’Having been transported to South America and on the verge of collapse, Anna S. attempted to bring her tormentors to justice. But the denunciation she sent to the imperial police force in Vienna, written in faltering German, went unanswered. wesearch unearthed this and other stories from Galicia on behalf of the Wien Museum for the exhibition The Myth of Galicia, which ran from 03/26 – 08/30/2015 at the Wien Museum.
Film project: Vienna 1900-1950
Josef R. boasted of being the founder of the ‘N.S.D.A.P. Hitler Movement’ in Austria. After the National Socialists seized power in March 1938, the ardent Nazi wanted to present himself in the best possible light, seeking – like many other residents of Vienna – to be among the profiteers. The tenant of a simple one-bedroom flat became the owner of a house and factory who, even after the liberation of Austria in 1945 and in spite of being sentenced to imprisonment under harsh conditions, ultimately had nothing to fear from the Austrian courts. The story of Josef R. was one of those traced by wesearch for a film project run by Harvard University about Vienna from 1900 to 1950.
Behind the Scenes at Sacher
A Viennese cab driver would ‘look twice’ at a count, noted Karl Kraus in his magazine Die Fackel, were he to ask to be driven to the ‘culinary Eden of Mrs Anna Sacher’. It is doubtful whether a single count ever did set foot in Hotel Sacher. Nevertheless, continued an aggrieved Karl Kraus, according to a Viennese tradition ‘all the archdukes, and only they, go to Sacher’. Anna Sacher, the charismatic, cigar-smoking hotel heiress with a fondness for French bulldogs, made the family business into a worldwide success. Thanks to the intrigues and escapades of its guests, the Sacher was the talk of the town for decades. wesearch took a look behind the scenes at the Hotel Sacher for a book project by the author and filmmaker Monika Czernin.
Helena M. was one of over 570 women who were used as forced labourers in the viscose factory at the Lenzing concentration camp, a subcamp of Mauthausen concentration camp, between 1944 and 1945. She kept the jacket from the prisoner uniform she wore there for nearly 70 years. Now the jacket, along with other objects researched by wesearch, can be seen in the new permanent exhibition opened in 2013 at the Mauthausen Memorial.
Exploring the archive of the Syndicate of Press Photographers of Austria
The Syndicate of Press Photographers and Picture Agencies of Austria, a professional association still active today, was founded in 1947. It’s celebrating its 70th anniversary with an exhibition at the Westlicht gallery from 10/25-11/05/2017. In 2014 its archive, long believed to have been lost, resurfaced and was presented to the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna. Marion Krammer and Margarethe Szeless catalogued and analysed the holdings. Their work on the early days of the professional association, the development of the field and the key forces shaping the market for Austrian press photography after 1945 can be found in the catalogue to the exhibition.
Austrian Science Fund (FWF) research project War of Pictures
From 2014 to 2018, Marion Krammer and Margarethe Szeless carried out a research project at the Department of Communication, University of Vienna, into the history of Austrian press photography between 1945 and 1955. For the first time, the biographies of over 200 male and female press photographers active during the period were brought together and can now be accessed via a database. The project also included a study of the Allied picture services and an analysis of visual propaganda during the Cold War. The research findings were presented and discussed at an international conference in Vienna from 4 to 6 October 2017.
A multi-media online exhibition about Austria under occupation
One of the aims of science communication is to find engaging formats through which to disseminate research findings to a broader public. With the financial support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and in cooperation with colleagues from the Teacher Training Centre for History, Social Studies and Political Education in Vienna, we’ve developed the online exhibition War of Pictures. Austrian Visual Culture 1945 to 1955. The exhibition presents the history of the period as seen through the lens of media coverage. At the same time, in order to promote media literacy, we subject press photography and the ways it was used to critical analysis. The exhibition is aimed at the general public and schools, which will be offered workshops and additional educational materials in order to explore the topic in more depth.