Category: Austria

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All Caught Up Again & Austrian History

For only the second time in the ca. 15 years since I started writing for my main website, I’m all caught up, i.e. I’ve completed and uploaded all the chapters that I had material for from my own travels. (The first time I had come to that point was earlier this year.)

First I finished the remaining chapters for Namibia, namely about Swakopmund and its local museum. And then I still had a substantial chapter to write about a relatively recent addition to the museum portfolio of the city I live in, Vienna, namely the House of Austrian History (“Haus der Geschichte Österreichs” in the original German, or HdGÖ for short), housed in

First Anniversary of my Book

On this date, one year ago my book Atlas of Dark Destinations, pictured above, was released internationally. Back then I marked the occasion with this celebratory post (the date also happens to coincide with the National Day here in Austria).

At that point I was still cautiously optimistic that the book would earn me some money beyond the advance I had been given by the publishers. Unfortunately, a year on, that has still not happened. Sales have not yet fully recouped the advance, so I’ve not earned a single extra penny from it so far. I wasn’t

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is one of the most significant international remembrance days, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on this day in 1945. It’s impossible to cover every Holocaust-related dark-tourism site in a single post. But what I can do is give one photo each from all the main concentration camps and death camps, i.e. the main places where the Holocaust played out (in addition to

2022

climate change and all that rarely features in dark tourism (DT), probably because DT is predominantly about dark pasts, not about the future. Moreover, climate change symptoms already in evidence rarely produce visitable concrete tourist sites. But there are a few exceptions, most notably retreating glaciers.

Most glaciers in the world are shrinking due to global warming. And occasionally the shrinkage is marked by signs on tourist walking routes. Here’s an example I spotted in Norway en route to the Briksdalsbreen

9 November

9 November 1938 was a day of infamy, when throughout the Third Reich (by then including Austria) Nazi mobs attacked and humiliated Jews openly, destroyed Jewish businesses and desecrated and burned down numerous synagogues. This is now officially referred to as the November Pogrom(s), but is still commonly also known as “Kristallnacht”, typically rendered in English as “Night of Broken Glass”. The older term, and especially its longer form “Reichskristallnacht”, are now avoided as they

1 November – Cemetery Day!

Here in Vienna, Austria, All Saints’ Day is a public holiday, but a much more low-key affair compared to Mexico. Many people visit graves of relatives in the various cemeteries of the city and lay flowers, wreaths or light little red candles. It’s the one day in the year when the city is very quiet while the cemeteries are at their busiest. I’ve never visited any cemeteries on All Saints’ Day, though some of the official ceremonies might be interesting to see. But it’s mostly a private affair and I don’t want to be intruding on that. I also prefer cemeteries quiet, ideally

Personal and National Celebrations

So here it is, the big day, the date when my book (photo of the title page above) is finally launched globally. In Germany it had already been available for a few weeks. But now that it’s out internationally it’s cause for celebration!

It so happens that this date is also Austria’s “Nationalfeiertag”, literally ‘National Celebration Day’. I could say: that’s nice, so the whole nation is celebrating with me. But

Dark Tourism & Nuclear Power Plants

And here comes the fourth and final theme from our most recent poll. In my archives I don’t actually have photos of that many nuclear power plants (NPPs), but included are some of the historically most significant ones – and the darkest! Because of the security issues revolving around the nuclear industry, often photos are only possible from a distance, more or less zoomed in, but I also have some closer up and even a couple of interior

Dark Tourism & Furniture

And here comes the second of the themed posts (after last week’s “DT & hands”) that featured in our most recent poll, which didn’t have a clear result. So for this time I’ve picked furniture.

The photo below was taken at the DDR-Museum (‘GDR museum’) in Berlin and shows a reconstruction of the furnishings of a typical East German 1970s/early 80s living room – note in particular the

A medical theme

To make up for last week’s absence of a new blog post (and the likelihood of there not being one next week), I give you an extra-elaborate one today – on a medical theme, not decided on by a readers’ poll, but just by myself. The reason being that early tomorrow morning I’ll have my left hand operated on. Hence I picked the above photo as the lead image.

I took that in

Dark Tourism & Toys

As decided in our most recent theme poll, I now bring you the winner, DT & toys. It was probably the oddest of the choices, the biggest juxtaposition, and hence the most intriguing. In any case it was a very clear win far ahead of all the other choices.

So what kind of dark do we get with toys. Well, for starters there are war toys, like model planes, tanks, toy guns and whatnot. In fact, one of the

DT & New Year’s Eves

As a kind of follow-on from last Thursday’s post about dark tourism & Christmas, I now give you another photo essay composed of photos from my archives that were all taken on a New Year’s Eve, mostly when travelling abroad. Of course, the New Year’s Eves themselves were not the dark elements here, but took place in countries with a dark reputation and/or where we had undertaken dark-tourism fieldwork during the day.

I’ll do it in reverse chronological order and begin with last year’s New Year’s Eve – when

Dark Tourism & Christmas

As promised, I’ll try to do my bit to brighten up the Christmas period that for so many of us will be very different this year, much reduced in terms of gatherings with family and friends, due to the pandemic.

In previous years, when we were not visiting our respective families, my wife and I often went travelling at this time of year. Hence we saw Christmas decorations in a wide range of places, including some where you wouldn’t normally expect them at all. It goes to show how

Zwentendorf

On this Day, 42 years ago, on 5 November 1978, nuclear power was stopped by the people here in Austria. At Zwentendorf on the Danube, a nuclear power plant (NPP) had been under construction since 1972, but by 1978 the public mood had changed, partially influenced by the strong anti-NPP movement and demonstrations in Germany. So a referendum was called by the then government, which

Dark Tourism & Clothing

As decided in the most recent poll, and announced on Monday, today we come to the theme “dark tourism and clothing”:

You could be forgiven if you think this is a really exotic theme within the wider subject of dark tourism. But items of clothing do actually come up quite often. And the ones featured below are only a selection.

Perhaps the most predictable case of clothes with a dark association is those iconic and infamous striped

National Day and poll result

Today it’s “Nationalfeiertag” (literally ‘National Celebration Day’, or just ‘National Day’ for short) in Austria, the country I reside in. It’s another good opportunity to dig out from my archives the photos and texts I posted on my DT page on Facebook until it got purged. I’m reproducing them here in reverse chronological order, i.e. starting with last year’s post first:

Light at the End of Dark Tunnels

The idiomatic phrase ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is probably being used a lot in these weird times– as something that is hoped for, the end of a crisis. Alas, with regard to the current pandemic, that light remains very faint at best, if it’s discernible at all. There’s still no cure, no vaccine, no clear outlook of what’s yet to come.
These thoughts inspired me to look through my photo archives searching for images of tunnels with lights at their ends, and indeed there have been some on my extensive travels. Here we go, the first one is

Iconoclasm versus Interpretation

The photo above shows a plaque in Vienna commemorating Joseph Stalin’s short sojourn in this city as a young man. I’ve been reminded of this by the recent images on the news from the USA, where protesters are disfiguring or toppling monuments to former proponents of slavery and such like, in the wake of the unrest caused by the killing of George Floyd by police. Now, how do the topics of Stalinism and the Black Lives Matter movement go together, you may ask. Let me explain:

Make no mistake, I do understand the outrage of the protesters about the