National Geographic : 1965 Jul
National Geographic, July, 1965 Chris asked the waitress what Nierndln were, and the girl grabbed her lower back. Dick loudly announced "Pork chops!" and ordered some. Dismayed by the plate of kidneys she brought, he asked somewhat less confidently, "Haben Sie quack-quack?" "Nein, aberwir haben cluck-cluck," and the waitress produced chicken. At Mauthausen, several Austrian young sters asked Mike Lewis, the Negro member of our team, "Are you an African, the spear throwing kind?" "No, I'm an American," Mike answered. A few steps of the twist eased disappointment. Between Melk and Krems, through the enchanting stretch of the Danube called the Wachau, we drifted along in a setting of vine yards, orchards, and tumbled hills (page 48). Ruins of castles, built by robber barons and aristocrats of old, perched on riverside crags. Men and women spraying and pruning the vines expressed surprise when we told them we came from the United States: "But you are neither tourists nor GI's!" We wandered through the vast, ornate abbey of Melk, one of the largest monastic structures in the world. From the abbey came Yale University's copy of the Gutenberg Bi ble. Downstream at the castle of Diirnstein we climbed over fallen walls of the stronghold that once held Richard the Lionheart captive. Sparkling Gateway to Eastern Europe A few more miles of river, then-Vienna! The city of Strauss, Sachertorte,and sobbing violins turned on us her familiar wiles of grandeur, femininity, and lighthearted sophis tication. Sachertorte, should you not know it, is a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake, a Viennese specialty. Just to stroll in the evening through this sparkling city was to gain magical respite from hectic days. We made the rounds of fa mous cafes-Demel's, Gerstner-Koberl's, and Lehmann's-to drink coffee and stash away sugary pastries. We missed the renowned Vienna State Opera; it was off season. But we drove out to historic Kahlenberg, north of the city in the Wiener Wald-the Vienna Woods. In 1683 an army of 200,000, led by Turks but including a motley horde of Slavs, Tar tars, and restive Magyars, swept up the Dan ube Valley and laid siege to Vienna. Sultan Mohammed IV of the Ottoman Empire sent a challenge threatening fire and sword: "We shall destroy you and wipe all trace of infidels off the face of the earth. With no re gard for age, we shall put all through excruci ating tortures before we give them death...." At stake were the Holy Roman Empire and the Christian world. Emperor Leopold I found a strong ally in John Sobieski, King of Poland. A force of 80,000 Europeans under Sobieski and Duke Charles of Lorraine assembled on Kahlenberg and then deployed in the Vienna Woods. On September 12, 1683, the Turks, under attack from two directions, fled in general panic. Grim Relics of Sarajevo-1914 History seemed closer at hand in Vienna's Heeresgeschichtliche Museum. With Presi dent Kennedy's assassination indelible in our minds, we were struck silent by the relics of the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. Here were the uniform, with bullet holes and bloodstains, that the Archduke wore and the automobile he rode in the day the bullets cut him down in Sarajevo. Exactly half a century had passed since that violent act lit the fuse of World War I. We visited with Willy Dirtl, family man, teen-idol, globe-trotter, and first solo dancer of the Vienna State Opera. Wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt, Dirtl sprawled barefooted on a couch in his living room. "Some of you hard-boiled foreigners," Dirtl cheerfully pronounced, "think it's a romantic dream that Vienna is a city of woods, superb wines, and people happily in love. But it's true, every bit." Fritz Meznik, Chief of the Austrian Gov ernment's Press Service, briefed Dave and me in his resplendent office on the countries we were yet to see. "So many people lose sight of the fact that Eastern Europe is not an entity," he said. "Few regions display such a diversity of cul tures, races, and geography." Dr. Meznik, chain-smoking and peering through thick glasses under white hair, spoke with the authority of one widely traveled in the Communist countries. "In relation to Moscow, a new sense of in dependence stirs Rumania. Yet the country has not had much experience of democracy: The Rumanian masses historically have been poor, their rulers rich. "You'll like the Hungarians-they're proud, diligent, imaginative, strongly individualistic. They have a strong sense of destiny."