The Setting of the Pearl
Vienna Under Hitler
By Thomas Weyr
(Oxford University Press, USA, Hardcover, 9780195146790, 384pp.)
Publication Date: March 2005
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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.