The BIAAS blog series features posts by junior and senior scholars in the field of Austrian-American studies. The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BIAAS.
BIAAS Austro-Americana Blogs
Emigration Routes from Austria-Hungary: Germany – Part I
By Allison Schmidt
On November 26, 1908, police in Tetschen (“Děčín” in today’s Czechia) stopped a young man about to cross the border from Habsburg territory into Imperial Germany.
“I expect that this letter will be terribly long”: Hans (John) Kautsky’s First Letter from the U.S.A.
By Jacqueline Vansant
Sometime between March and April of 1938, a small group of 15- and 16-year-old schoolboys of Jewish heritage stood on a bridge over the Danube Canal in central Vienna and said good-bye to each other “forever.” Because the persecution of Austrian Jews, which had begun immediately after the Anschluss in March 1938, was particularly virulent, the boys and their parents knew that they had to flee the new Nazi regime as quickly as possible. When these classmates from the prestigious Bundesrealgymnasium Wien 1 met for the last time, they did not know what would become of them, but they promised one another that whatever happened they would do their best to maintain ties. The boys’ original promise resulted in an extraordinary group correspondence or Rundbrief that stretched over fifteen years and criss-crossed three continents.
No sleep till (Inns)Brooklyn: OSS operation Greenup and the Liberation of the Tyrol in May 1945
By Peter Pirker
The New York Times’ headline “Torture Endured by Brooklynite Made Innsbruck Entry Bloodless” informed the public why US troops didn’t have to fight when on May 3, 1945, they took the Austrian city of Innsbruck, the largest city in the so-called Alpine redoubt of Nazi Germany. The article featured the now famous Operation Greenup and its chief operator Frederick “Fred” Mayer.
Part III of Megan Brandow-Faller’s Interwar Vienna’s ‘Female Secession’: From Vienna to New York and Los Angeles
By Megan Brandow-Faller
Emmy Zweybrück-Prochaska and Liane Zimbler, who both played leading roles in Wiener Frauenkunst (WFK) Raumkunst exhibitions also left Austria for New York and Los Angeles. Like the exiled ceramicists, Zweybrück-Prochaska’s reputation as a pedagogue, designer, and craftswoman preceded her forced emigration. Throughout the 1930s, Zweybrück-Prochaska had taught seminars and summer courses on art instruction for children throughout the United States, serving as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, the University of Southern California, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Texas, Rhode Island School of Design, and elsewhere. Zweybrück-Prochaska, whose paternal grandfather was a Jewish convert to Christianity, never returned from her last American lecture tour in Spring 1939, despite applying for the renewal of her school’s rights of public incorporation for the 1939/40 school year prior to her departure. While her non-Jewish husband, entrusted with the administrative leadership of the school, claimed that the outbreak of war prevented her from returning, Zweybrück-Prochaska’s racial classification as Mischling (mixed blood) made membership in the Reichskulturkammer impossible, suggesting that her extended 1939 stay with her daughter, Nora, born in 1921, was deliberate.
Part II of Megan Brandow-Faller’s Interwar Vienna’s ‘Female Secession’: From Vienna to New York and Los Angeles
By Megan Brandow-Faller
Artists like Vally Wieselthier, Emmy Zweybrück-Prochaska, or Maria Likarz-Strauss, who created decorative art and handcraft that was formally and thematically provocative, clashed with the regime’s attempts to resurrect the hierarchy of the arts and retain biologically defined gender roles. The regime tended to prefer clarity in art and design and emphasized, on the one hand, a resurgence of traditional handcraft skills and, on the other, industrially-produced design objects for the masses. The Viennese tradition of decorative arts—a field known for its defiance of traditional boundaries of high/low and masculine and feminine fields of expression—was met with outright hostility, added to the Jewish nature of its artist base and patronage networks.
Interwar Vienna’s ‘Female Secession’: From Vienna to New York and Los Angeles
By Megan Brandow-Faller
In Secessionist and interwar Vienna, female artists trained at the Viennese Women’s Academy created self-consciously ‘feminine’ art incorporating traditional forms of women’s handcrafts (including ceramics, textiles and embroidery) but in new and subversive ways. Such artists sought to reclaim the negative stereotypes surrounding 'women's art' through a series of ambitious public exhibitions and didactic programs bringing together the visual arts, crafts, and architecture in model decorative interiors. Constituting what critics likened to a ‘female Secession,’ this provocative ‘women’s art’ was a subversive feminist intervention in the misogynist backlash against the rising numbers of female artists and the promotion of decorative arts championed by the Vienna Secessionists (led by Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann and others). The female Secessionists made important contributions to modern art and design that have been ignored because of their embrace of the decorative arts and handcraft media. Introducing the movement in general, this blog post unearths the female Secession’s unexpected Austro-American linkages, tracing the path of American emigration of adherents including Vally Wieselthier (1895-1945), Susi Singer (1891-1955), Liane Zimbler (1892-1987) and Emmy Zweybrück-Prochaska (1890-1956).
The Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies (BIAAS) promotes an understanding of the historic relationship between the United States and Austria, including the lands of the former Habsburg empire. BIAAS encourages Grantees and Guest Writers to contribute to our Austro-American Blog Series. https://botstiberbiaas.org/resources/blog The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BIAAS.