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Hungary

Of course the series is closely connected to Austrian history, but many dialogues go far beyond that. The episode I like to introduce to you this week focuses on the Nazi regime in Hungary. But Europe’s post war history, the iron curtain play an important role, as well as the fears that rise from nowadays political developments – in Hungary as well as in other parts of Europe and the USA, too.

Ilona Baczynski has not talked about her story until recently. Not even all members of the family knew that she is Jewish and escaped the Holocaust only by luck. Her grandson Nicolas seems eager to know the exact details of her life between Hitler’s terror and the Soviet threat finally finds a supposed happy ending in Vienna decides to keep her roots to herself after she has married her Catholic husband.

Historical focus of the episode: Hungary, Budapest, Horthy, 1956, Vienna, Cold War, State Treaty

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Richard & Solomon Wadani

Richard Wadani’s son emigrated to Australia over 40 years ago. Due to the long distance, he has seen his grandson only twice in his life, the language barrier made discussions within the family quite difficult. Thanks to a simultaneous translation, the two can now talk directly with each other for the first time. Richard Wadani is born in Prague, but belongs to the Austrian ethnic group which becomes German after the Anschluss. His family has to leave Prague for Vienna, where Richard is recruited by the Wehrmacht and gets to see the suffering of the people in Ukraine. Again and again he steals food supplies from the Wehrmacht to distribute them to the people. He is convicted for theaft but succeeds in avoiding a punishment and he comes to the Western Front from where he deserts to England. There he joins the Czech army. When the war is over, he finds his mother back in Vienna, while she already reached an age at which she cannot and does not want to leave Vienna anymore. In Vienna, Richard meets lots of hostility and disregard for deserters. His biggest success is the construction of the Deserteursdenkmal in Vienna. His grandson is a young man who passionately asks questions and who listens to many of Richard’s stories for the first time in his life.

It was a very touching and intense moment to meet the Wadani – family. Thank you for your cooperation!

Historical focus: Prague, Vienna, Ukraine, deserters

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