Back in Vienna, “eat, drink & be merry”: Between Assignments

by Andrea Brandt

Vienna is expensive. It’s also where a few journalists found ourselves while in route to someplace else.

It’s still romantic even when you’re not looking for romance. Perhaps a one-night stand would suffice.

We met at a cafe-bar in the central district in a place located on a cobblestone alley. They served craft beer. We discussed where we had just come from – Israel, Ukraine, Kosovo. Our stories were harsh, tragic, and sad. Some filled with much more violence and extremism than others. How inhumane can Man be to his fellow Man? War crimes are pervasive.

How bad is the growing extremism and far right extremist objectives? Existential angst remains a common phrase in conversation. New words enter our day-to-day Wortschatz (vocabulary).

My colleagues and I share laughter, tears, cheap food, and craft beer. Talk includes educational programs in different countries about extremist prevention. It’s being introduced at an early education level, elementary school in some cases. Austria is one of the places leading the way. Extremist prevention is a nod to the rise of fascism. Oligarchy feeds into that spiral of deception. The poor will always be at the short end of the stick when money is involved. Educators know that, as well as bankers. And banks are in the business of making money regardless of politics or who kills whom. Terrorism appears to be a by-product to making profits. Money and power are dance partners.

Authoritarian voices are false but they are intrusive. They seep into daily conversation leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of those who have felt the lethal embrace of hate and war.

So, I met my colleagues who are in route. Vienna always feels neutral but ironically filled with intrigue. The journalists in the 1920s and 30’s may have felt the same when they met at the Café Louvre in Vienna.

We drink, share and wish each other a better day tomorrow with the spirit of a new year fast approaching. Fear is also in the future of self-expression in different countries, but how deep we ask, an old man and woman sitting on a bench in the alley leading up to the café-bar know only too well.