He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Touristen an der Leitha

Bruck an der Leitha Hauptplatz
The week in Bruck and der Leitha also had a purely touristic aspect. My sister Oddny and her husband Jan visited for the week. That didn't mean the we shared all activities; the two are keen marathon-runners, which I happen not to be. My sister is also a keen shopper which I also happen not to be. None of them have read Švejk, which I incidentally have done. Still there were plenty of thing we could do together; cycling, day-trips, eating, drinking and for me an another important factor: have a conversation in my own language without any worries about grammar or pronunciation. These six months on the rails and roads of the Eurasian continent would offer few such opportunities. Jan and Oddny are very relaxing people to travel with. There is no compulsion or expectation that we have to do do everything together, hence there can be no arguing.
When Oddny and Jan arrived at Bruck/Leitha Bahnhof on 12 June, 19:00 I had already been there for two hours, checked in and had time for a Puntigamer in a dive on the Bruckneudorf side of the river. The first thing that happened after we set off  for the short walk down to Ungarsicher Hof, was that a man approached us and identified us as the tourists from Norway. It was Wolfgang Gruber whom I had contacted a few months back with questions about locations in Bruck/Bruckneudorf of relevance to Jaroslav Hašek. He had found out our arrival times by asking the hotel and was ready at the station. He drove us straight down to die Krone and even treated us to beer and Marillenschnaps to ensure the visitors had a good start.
In conversation with Petzneck and Gruber.
Wolfgang Gruber and his father-in-law Friedrich Petzneck are local historians and run the Ungarturm Museum. The next a half-day programme was arranged for us by the two gentlemen: a Stadtrundgang and a visit to the museum. Frau Elisabeth Gruber also joined so Oddny didn't have to suffer endless flows of regional history, haškology and tales about changing territories. What Jan thought I don't know;  squeezed in between cake recipe's and the Austro-Hungarian Empire as he was. I'm sure he's suffered worse though.
The Ungarturm Museum is located in one of the former wall towers, and uses all floors for the exhibitions. It shows the history of the town from ancient times until today. There is a large section on the Double Monarchy and for a good reason. Bruck was the main military establishment in the Empire and received frequent visits from notabilities, including His Imperial and Royal Highness Franz Joseph I. I use the term Bruck here to mean the whole conurbation on both sides of the Leitha, to avoid having to repeat the intricate administrative details all the time...
The Hauptplatz offers a surprise, a Soviet War memorial complete with a red star. The occupiers quickly erected it in 1945, and after their withdrawal in 1955 it was left standing. There has been controversy around  it of course, but as Petzneck pointed out; it is a part the towns history and should be respected as such. Opposite it is a memorial to the towns many victims of the bombing and fighting in 1945, and the list of names is endless.
Gasthaus Zum Grünen Kranz with Ungarturm.
Die Herren Gruber und Petzneck were well prepared for the question I had given them by mail. I was presented a list of all current and historical guesthouses in Bruck/Bruckneudorf, and crucially; a study by Klara Köttner-Benigni and Konrad Biricz on Švejk in Austria. And even better; Petzneck had contacted Köttner-Benigni who in turn invited us both to Eisenstadt. Sie sind unter den richtigen Leuten gelandet, Herr Petzneck commented, and he was absolutely right. This was more than I could have hoped for, although Konrad Biricz unfortunately had passed away a few years ago. I will write more on the visit to Eisenstadt later.

1 comment:

  1. You are indeed an explorer in the vein of Thor Heyerdahl and a worthy son of his homeland ...

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