MY JOURNEY THROUGH OCCUPIED AUSTRIA1952 copyright Gorddon J R Smith 2014
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My five week backpacking journey in 1952 through Austria, was under four power allied occupation force control, afforded me with many new experiences of meeting people and exploring a foreign country. I came away with a deep love and knowledge of the country, its people and culture. I stayed in youth hostel accommodation. except for ten days when I lived with an Austrian family. More
When WWll ended in 1945, Austria was occupied by the Four Allied powers, France, Soviet Russia, the U.K. and U.S.A. It was an important period in Austria's history with which many middle aged and young Austrians are unaware. In 1951 I left Australia by ship with a male companion on a working and backpacking holiday to the U.K. and Europe. In January 1952 we crossed the Channel and began backpacking through snowy Austria. After travelling together for less than a week, my companion, suddenly and without any prior warning left me! I took stock of my situation, worked out a budget to see me through the next 65 days when I was due to meet and ski with a lady friend in Switzerland. Realising that I could now go where, when and how I wished, I revelled in my new circumstance. Serendipitously I was immediately invited to stay with an Austrian family the Wagners and I did so for just over one week; during which time I learned a lot about Austria, its language, people and customs They in turn learned about life in Australia from me. After leaving the Wagners I mad a three day diversion over the border to Berchtesgaden, Hitler's retreat in Bavaria, where I talked with a former member of the SSD and other members of the German army. I then continued on my journey to the east to Vienna through the Russian zone. I spent two exciting weeks in Vienna exploring the for power occupied city's magnificent, historic buildings, its delightful coffee houses and interesting night life. Because of the low cloud and fog I didn't see much of Austria's magnificent high mountains, nor could I hitch hike on Austria's snow covered roads. However I travelled everywhere I wanted to go on Austria's efficient railway system. In the autumn of 1952 I returned to Austria to complete my journey of exploring the western provinces that I had only travelled through by train the previous winter. On this visit I was not only able to enjoy the sight of many magnificent mountain vistas and panoramas that had been mostly denied to me in the winter, but by cable car I was able to stand on the summit of one of the high mountains. To complete my journey, I hitch hiked through the high, mountain provinces, of the Tyrol and Voralberg. Except for the week I spent with the Wagners,; as a member of the Youth Hostels Association, I stayed in cheap, but very good youth hostels exclusively. I left Austria with a very extensive knowledge and love of all things Austrian, which I hold dear to this day.
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