Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coming of Age in Vienna

Chapter 3a
Coming of Age in Vienna
My father taught me to avoid crowds. One of the books in his library was by a noted French sociologist, Gustave Le Bon, on “ The Psychology of Crowds,” and apparently both Hitler and Mussolini studied it and learned the lessons of manipulation of the masses from it.
With the fall of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna was in chaos. At one point, my father, then young and idealistic, joined in one of the demonstrations, when suddenly the crowd, perhaps confronted by police or military force, panicked. He escaped the stampede, and learned, from there on, not to go on with the herd.
       The capital city of the new Republic of Austria, was dominated by socialists, hence, it earned the nickname of “Red Vienna”. At the same time, it was a heavily cosmopolitan city, having served as capital for so many distinct nationalities under the Empire, and, during and after the war,  it was swollen with refugees, particularly Jews like the Weinbergs.

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