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After the Allied liberation of Austria from Hitler’s National Socialist regime, troops of the four Allied Powers (e.g., Great Britain, France, Soviet Union, United States of America), occupied the country for a decade and established a network of military administrative structures.

The Russians took over the Palais Epstein (Epstein Palace) on The Ringstrasse, a property which for years had been in the hands of of a long-time Viennese Jewish family.

[The Epstein Patriarch: Gustav Ritter von Epstein (or, in British comparative usage, Sir Gustav von Epstein)]

[As if the Palace Epstein needed the architectural accents of a massive Red Star flanked by Vladimir Lenin (L) and Josef Stalin (R)!]

As early as April 1945, the Soviet City Kommandantura for Vienna set up its headquarters at Palais Epstein, which seemed particularly suitable, both politically and strategically, on account of its vicinity to some of the newly created Austrian government institutions.

The present Austrian Government say that it was at Palais Epstein where some of the most important steps towards the re-establishment of the Austrian state were taken in spring 1945, such as the registration of the three anti-fascist political parties.

But since the palace was, for the next ten years, to become the starting point of the suffering of many deportees on their road to Siberia, it was at the same time a place dreaded by many Viennese.

[For more on the sheer barbarity of the Russian occupation of Vienna, see my earlier postings here [Sisterhood of 2nd District and here Sisterhood Updated]

When finally the Russians left,  the Treaty enabling the establishment of a free Austrian Republic was signed at another palace which had been famous for years, but which during the Nazi days was favoured by another of history’s most infamous reprobates.

[Hermann Goering and on his right right, Ion Victor Antonescu, Romanian authoritarian, politician and convicted war criminal, who allied his Nation with Nazi Germany.  Location:  Palace Belvedere, 1941.]

The Belvedere is a wonderful complex of buildings right in the heart of central Vienna.  If nil else, the gardens alone are worth a visit.

[Palace grounds]

Two of Goering’s most infamous quotes came to mind when, once again, my mind turned to happier days and events at the Belvedere Palace:

“Education is dangerous – Every educated person is a future enemy.”

“Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning!”

The apparently polymath Welsh-born actor Sir Anthony Hopkins recently released his first album of classical music which he himself composed.

(Quite how genuinely classical this really is remains a matter of opinion, but, nonetheless  my desire is to praise, not be churlish.)

Indeed, a few days ago, the 75-year old Sir Anthony won the Classical Brit Award for his composition And the Waltz Goes On, for violin & string orchestra, from his album Anthony Hopkins Composer

And where did this work premier?

In the Marble Hall of the fabulous Belvedere Palace.

[Marble Hall]

For my money, watching Sir Anthony’s face is as if watching a new Dad witness the birth of his first child.

See what you think.

(If this does not play, my apologies.  Please click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meoEYczeqGw

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Hat tips:

Sir Anthony’s new album Anthony Hopkins Composer is available on Amazon, here: Amazon USA Anthony Hopkins Composer  Readers outside the USA, please click here, go to the foot of the webpage, and select your nearest national supplier.

André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra performed magically and with true Viennese zest amongst splendid surroundings.  Twitter: @andrerieu  His website: http://www.andrerieu.com/en/splashpage/a:67/andre-rieu-s-hometown-concert-in-cinemas-throughout-the-usa-

The Palais Epstein is at Doktor-Karl-Renner-Ring 3, 1010 Vienna and across The Ring from the Volksgarten.

Epstein painting used by kind authority of the Austrian Parliament by whom all rights are reserved

Before or after your trek to The Belvedere, may I suggest you refresh yourself with a fine coffee or light meal at the nearby Café Schwarzenberg, which has operated on the same spot for over 150 years. Cafe Schwarzenberg