How many times did your tongue get tied trying to pronounce the name of the Austrian War History Museum in German?
We’ve spent the past seven birthdays for Tony on the Cape parasailing or whale watching or something very Cape-like. Since we’ve already discovered Austria’s longest seashore, the next best alternative is a day at the War History Museum!
Anna Grace, the Birthday Boy, and a marble Prince Eugene of Savoy.
The museum is housed in the former Arsenal, a complex of beautiful buildings constructed at the behest of Franz Josef I. They were damaged in the last days of WWII, of course, and were restored in the 1950s. Presently the main building is covered with scaffolding. Maybe The Internet has a photo if you’re interested.
The museum begins with a series of exhibits on the role of the Hapsburgs as “European Policeman.” And what fashionable continent monitors they were. (Yes, the pictures are dreary. I had to pay €1.50 for the privilege of taking photos in the museum without flash in the dimly lit galleries.) The museum also provides a series of flyers in each gallery to help put Austria’s war history into a timeline, which helped those of us not exactly up on our Austrian war history tremendously.
Even with all the continent monitoring, General Radetzky found time to hunt.
The timeline then moves to the days prior to WWI and the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand. This is the car he was riding in when assassinated.
The blood-stained uniform. On the upper right just under the collar is the bullet hole.
The second level hall is no less grand, and takes us first to the Thirty Years’ War.
Next up is the Ottoman Wars. The hall devoted to Prince Eugene is exceptionally well designed. And, of, course, thoroughly unphotographable due to the lighting, but I was able at least to snap a decent photo of the captured Turkish Standard.
Maria Theresa’s reign followed. She was big into modernization and wanted to reclaim lost lands. Hence, perhaps, the many standards and military men.
The Napoleonic Wars followed “short”ly. Haha. Get it? Someone has “little” sense of humor.
Napoleon as Caesar.
This is the oldest preserved European military observation balloon, none other than the French’s Le Intrepide (1795).
A large space is devoted to Kaiser Franz Josef and the Hapsburg’s reign. We thought it interesting that the museum would describe his predecessor Kaiser Ferdinand I as being of “limited intelligence” except to make the important decision to give up the throne to Franz Josef.
Kaiserin Elizabeth (Sisi) with an impossibly tiny waist.
And, speaking of princesses, we passed a cart with clothes intended for a children’s group.
Austrian’s dabble with socialism following WWI was on display.
Then, the dark days of Nazi occupation.
The capitulation of the Wehrmacht.
Our day wrapped up with a brief tour of the “Panzer Garden.”
And just as we traded the sea shore for the war history museum, the usual lobster and fried clams for Tony’s birthday was traded for dinner in a cozy keller near the Hofburg. All in all, a pretty great day.