Graves in the Volksgarten

© Maria Welzig

 

Until 1956, the public park Volksgarten would accommodate graves of Soviet soldiers who had fallen in the battles to liberate Vienna from the National Socialist regime in April 1945. After all, the Municipal Council discussed the very sensitive questions of how to remove Soviet traces from public urban spaces after the signature of the Austrian State Treaty in May 1955.


© Austrian National Library, Picture Archive
Graves of Soviet soldiers in the Volksgarten, 1945

For how much longer?

This question has dominated numerous debates in the Municipal Council of Vienna. The city centre is still scattered with remnants alluding to the years of Allied occupation. A public park called Volksgarten just opposite the Parliament houses multiple graves of Russian officers who fell in the Battle for Vienna. (…) The members of the Municipal Council are now discussing how to best clean the cityscape from these “memorabilia” without finding themselves entangled in diplomatic conflicts with Russia.

Vienna, May 24th 1956


Finally …

The Viennese would shout after learning that the remnants of Russian occupation along with their graves were to be removed from the city’s landscape. After lengthy and tough diplomatic banter, the USSR’s embassy approved of the disposal of the last reminders pointing to the Red Army. This inner city-purge included, among others, getting rid of the Russian Victory Memorial along with the first tank that, according to the Russian’s recounting, liberated Vienna. Moreover, Soviet soldiers’ graves should also be cleared from the capital’s inner city.

Vienna, October 11th 1956