Somebody says: “Those Slovenian guys [...] call themselves ‘slavic Austrians’ and say: the Balkans start at their Croatian border.”
Toynbee, in the last post, referred to a saying in Vienna that the East began at the Leitha.
Metternich is supposed to have said: “The Balkans begin at the Rennweg.” He had a villa there. The Rennweg is now in the third Bezirk, known as the Landstrasse. Landstrasse is a district as well as a street, so nowadays you hear it stated as: “The Balkans begin in the Landstrasse.” People who say this sometimes forget that Hungary is not in the Balkans. To a modern sensibility, talk of “the Balkans” beginning here or there of course shows anti-Slavic racism.
Parts of the eastern Bezirke of Vienna in the mid-’70s felt as if they were behind the Iron Curtain. This was a heavily socialised Austria. Vienna was stranded at one end of it, with no access to its previous cultural zones of influence to the north, east and south and not belonging fully to western Europe either. If the Balkans began at the Landstrasse, they continued in the Leopoldstadt (Prater area) and beyond in Floridsdorf and Donaustadt.
To non-Viennese Austrians, the Balkans merely began in Vienna. German Protestants sometimes said “in Munich”. My German grandfather, a Protestant of Baden-Württemberg, went further and used to say “in Neu-Ulm”. Ulm is in Baden-Württemberg on the Danube, Neu-Ulm is across the religious faultline in Catholic Bavaria.
The implication was that Catholic-Austrian Schlamperei begins in Bavaria and prefigures something even messier in the Balkans. Schlamperei is an untranslatable word and means a certain slovenliness and disorderliness, which perhaps carries an Austrian charm with it, but a charm only up to a point. Toynbee reminds us that Austria was by origin
simply Bavaria’s “eastern march” or, rather, a cluster of Bavarian marches: Upper Austria, Lower Austria, and Steiermark or Styria – which was first evolved by the Bavarian body politic in order to protect its eastern flank against assaults from the Avars and Slovenes, and which afterwards became differentiated and consolidated, by a series of historical accidents, into a separate political entity. [...]
Yet its history changed its character.
[...] while the transfigured eastern march of Bavaria has been playing her great part in the life of our Western Society and in the life of the World, the Bavarian interior has remained one of those small countries which are “happy in having no history” – as is signified in the fact that it has retained the original Bavarian name which Austria has discarded. During the ten or twelve centuries that have elapsed since Bavaria and Austria first parted company and began to go their different ways, the Bavarian êthos has remained parochial and exuberant and sanguine, whereas the Austrian êthos has become oecumenical and fastidious and sceptical. The contrast between the temperaments respectively prevalent in these two South German Catholic countries to-day cannot fail to strike the traveller who passes from one into the other at almost any point on their long common frontier [...].
Earlier in the same volume:
The glory which Vienna had gained by keeping the Turks at bay in 1529 and 1682-3 was tarnished by the humiliation of French occupations in 1805 and 1809; and the Viennese, who had first made their name as the heroic defenders of Western Christendom, eventually became a by-word for an attractive but decidedly unheroic combination of fecklessness with amiability and softness with elegance.
Archduchess Regina von Habsburg dies. Otto, born 1912, the son of Blessed Kaiser Karl, survives her. They lived in Bavaria. He was one of the organisers of the Pan-European Picnic on the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sopron on August 19 1989 and was involved in Balkan matters in the ’90s.
A Study of History, Vol II, OUP, 1934