Synopses & Reviews
When Adolf Hitler seized Vienna in the Anschluss
of 1938, he called the city "a pearl to which he would give a proper setting." But the setting he left behind seven years later was one of ruin and destruction--a physical, spiritual, and intellectual wasteland.
Here is a grippingly narrated and heartbreaking account of the debasement of one of Europe's great cities. Thomas Weyr shows how Hitler turned Vienna from a vibrant metropolis that was the cradle of modernism into a drab provincial town. In this riveting narrative, we meet Austrian traitors like Arthur Seyss-Inquart and mass murderers like Odilo Globocnik; proconsuls like Joseph Buerckel, who hacked Austria into seven pieces, and Baldur von Schirach, who dreamed of making Vienna into a Nazi capital on the Danube--and failed miserably. More painfully, Weyr chronicles the swift destruction of a rich Jewish culture and the removal of the city's 200,000 Jews through murder, exile, and deportation. Vienna never regained the global role the city had once played. Today, Weyr concludes, only the monuments remain--beautiful but lifeless.
This is not only the story of Nazi leaders but of how the Viennese themselves lived and died: those who embraced Hitler, those who resisted, and the many who merely, in the local phrase, "ran after the rabbit." The author draws on his own experiences as a child in Vienna under Nazi rule in 1938, and those of his parents and friends, plus extensive documentary research, to craft a vivid historical narrative that chillingly captures how a once-great city lost its soul under Hitler.
"Even before the end of WWII, the Allies declared Austria the first victim of German aggression. Austrians have savored this designation, which gave them a halo of innocence and spared them the full force of postwar occupation and control. Weyr isn't so sure the Austrians deserved to be so well treated. In this fast-paced chronicle of the destruction of the city's cultural and political life, he shows that most Austrians happily accepted the 1938 union with Germany and the benefits of the pillaging of Europe in the war's first years. Many Viennese exercised their basest instincts through the public humiliation of Jews. For Weyr, Nazi domination led to the destruction of the glittering culture of Vienna, the city of Freud, Klimt, Loos and so many other intellectual and artistic luminaries. That city had been, Weyr says, 'largely a Jewish creation,' the fruit of a multiethnic, tolerant milieu. Weyr, a native of Vienna and longtime reporter for UPI and Newsweek, mourns the passing of that world as he provides a decent account of the city's history, drawing on memoirs and autobiographies that give the work a rich texture. But to gain deeper understanding of Viennese culture and the effects of Nazi rule, readers are better off with the notable studies by Carl Schorske, Gary B. Cohen, Evan Bukey, Marsha Rozenblitt and others. 25 b&w illus. Agent, Carl Brandt." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A brilliantly documented, rivetingly written account of a great city's descent into hell."--Frederic Morton, author of Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914 and A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889
"Weyr explores the Austrian capital's fall from its exalted position during World War II in this thorough and often personal account.... Intermixes personal interviews, newspaper accounts, and a range of secondary sources to evoke a sense of life in Vienna during World War II.... The only study of its kind."--Library Journal
"A powerful account and analysis of Vienna's decline.... Weyr ably combines the mainline record with revealing anecdotes that highlight the fate of the Jews, Viennese demoralization, and the Reich's decline and rampant corruption."--Foreword Magazine
"Tom Weyr has written an excruciatingly lucid and elucidating history of the events and personalities in Hitler's Vienna which, sixty plus years ago, murdered those of us who failed to get away. "--Lore Segal, author of Other People's Houses and Her First American
"Who would have thought that a book on recent Viennese history could be exciting and fascinating? Weyr writes so well, with such intimate knowledge, that the book pulls you along. It seems to me that after reading this there can be no more discussion about whether the Austrians were victims or willing accomplices in Hitler's war. Particularly, the scenes in Berchtesgaden, the Berlin Chancellery and the phone calls involving Goering and Hitler add shattering insights into the history of World War II. Weyr explores a relatively unknown corner of recent history, and he does it superbly."--Cornelia Bessie, Bessie Books
Weyr supplies a compelling account of Hitler's destruction of Vienna, which he called "a pearl to which he would give a proper setting" upon seizing it in the Anschluss of 1938.
About the Author
is native of Vienna and was educated at Columbia University, the Sorbonne, and the University of Vienna, where he received his doctorate. He has worked for many years as a journalist and has written and translated ten books. He lives in Bronxville, New York.