Sunday, 29 November 2015

viennese sandbox: the third man

For a long weekend, PfRC took a trip to Vienna (Wien) and we are just full of impressions of the beautiful and storied city to sort out and can’t wait to return again soon. The next few instalments will share just a few episodes of a protracted but very inundating and rewarding visit. On a fine forenoon, we went to the the expansive amusement park, known as the Wurstelprater on the banks of the Danube—the divertissements for the public enjoyment going all the way back to 1766 when Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II declared the former royal hunting grounds now a preserve of family entertainment.

In 1897, to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the ascent of Emperor Franz Joseph I to the throne, the construction of the world’s largest and most venerable Ferris wheel (Riesenrad ) was commissioned, and we took a turn on of the fancy carriages, thankfully sheltered from the gale. The Riesenrad is one the Viennese landmarks featured in the 1949 noir thriller, The Third Man, where a pulp-fiction writer finds himself caught up in international intrigue in an Allied-occupied capital—the city having been split into sectors, like Berlin after World War II, but not partitioned (due to the gentlemen’s agreement that NATO eastern most reach was to be West Germany).
A package ticket afforded us amazing, encompassing views of the Vienna from above—later travelling to the signals tower on one of the silt islands of the picturesque river. The Donauturm had a more commanding vantage but not nearly as fun as being gently rotated, though the high-speed elevator and the enticement of bungee-jumping platform were exciting. In the carnival grounds, we discovered another oddity of sovereignty just in the shadow of the Riesenrad in the form of the spherical Kugelmugel house. This micronation was transported later to its present address on Anti-Fascism Square after authorities refused to allow the architect and founder’s, Edwin Lipburger, design to remain on his own grounds.
Proclaiming independence in 1984, Kugelmugel claims thousands of non-resident citizens and issues its own stamps and passports—these franking privileges having gotten the founder in trouble but now tolerated by the Austrian government, but not going so far as to give them legitimacy. Though behind barbed-wire, I think that this is the first, extant micronation that we’ve had the pleasure to visit, and we have to wonder about its definition.