Augarten

I can’t help it. This is just what I saw.


For the last little while I have been lucky enough to live around the corner from an old park. It is lovely to take a stroll in on a Saturday afternoon and it has two cafés that will serve you a cold bier or a delicious hugo (one of several revelations we have enjoyed in the past two years).

The Augarten is the park that Mozart walked in, relaxing and thinking up his next composition. It is disorienting to think of going for a walk in Mozart’s footsteps, but it’s part of the joy of living in a historic city like Vienna.

The Augarten though has two more recent legacies left behind from World War II.

The Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, a year before war broke out, to create a larger homeland. Later, in war time, to defend the city from allied aircraft the Nazis needed to construct large, indestructible gun positions from which flak guns could shoot aircraft down. There were few places in the city with the necessary space to build such fortifications, but Augarten was one. So in two corners of this majestic park there are enormous concrete towers that dominate the view. Too massive to easily demolish, and now declared historic monuments, they are an uneasy addition to the park that survives to this day.

The first time I saw the flak tower from across the park it was a vision of an alien form. So out of place, so ugly and militaristic in an otherwise peaceful setting, it truly seemed to be science fiction that would disappear if I rubbed my eyes.

Almost immediately I conceived this photo montage. It captures my first feeling so succinctly: such a brutal object at odds with the beauty here.

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