Viennese in China? Victoria Blitz is surprised
I have meanwhile been informed that you are on the first floor of the Jewish Museum Vienna and want to dispute somewhat my position as the only bicycle in the Jewish Museum Vienna? I’m not really very upset about that, but I have become a little thoughtful. How can it be that you, with your three wheels, found place in an exhibition about “Little Vienna in Shanghai”? You probably didn't come here from China, did you?
Dear Victoria Blitz,
Yes, you wouldn’t have thought that! I am also a little surprised myself, which is why I am very happy about your message. If there can’t be any visitors in the exhibition, we can both at least engage in some conversation. This helps against boredom and is extremely educational.
How am I supposed to address you anyway? Do you have a name? Adam Opel called me Victoria Blitz because, as a half-racing bike, I’m incredibly fast, fast as lightning. The Roman goddess Victoria is a nice companion. She is famous, or at least was when people still believed in her. Adam Opel is, too, and so is my owner. Theodor Herzl.
A name? I don’t think I have a name. And I’ve never heard of Theodor Herzl. Who is that?
What? You don't know Theodor Herzl? The inventor of political Zionism? Herzl, who was born in Budapest in 1860 and died in Edlach near Reichenau in 1904? Whose remains were transferred in 1949 to the Jewish State founded the year before and...?
You were there, weren’t you?
Of course not! Where are your thoughts heading? In 1949, where was I? Probably in Altaussee. But I’ve since forgotten where exactly. This guy, Theodor Herzl, studied in Vienna and became a lawyer. After completing his studies, he spent some time in Salzburg, but they unfortunately didn’t want him there.
Was he such a bad judge?
He couldn’t even become a judge, because as a Jew he was not considered suitable for this office. He was very sad about this and wrote in his diary that he would have liked to have stayed longer in this beautiful city...
Salzburg, did you say? I’m from Salzburg as well.
Do bicycles have three wheels in Salzburg?
I think I wasn’t built in Salzburg. Anyway, how did you get into the Jewish Museum Vienna? From Altaussee? Did you cycle to Vienna?
Where are you heading with your thoughts! Theodor Herzl rode me during his summer vacation, which he used to spend in Altaussee. In his day it was very trendy to take a summer vacation and cycling was the greatest thing of all. People thought it was ultra-modern and kind of special. But you’re also chic – and it seems to me that people can sit quite comfortably in you, right?
I’m a rickshaw too! You sit there and let yourself be chauffeured around. The rickshaw driver sits in the front of the bike that looks like your front part. And drives people around. Not a Chinese invention, but a Japanese one. No matter. I already belong to the second generation of this mode of transport. Originally, the two-wheeled wagons in which the passengers sit were pulled by a person. Quite exhausting. So I’m already a more advanced model.
Do you actually have a brake?
What do you mean, one? I’ve got two, of course. What a question!
Excuse me, I don't have any. Not a single brake. But I like that very much, because this bike named Victoria Blitz is also a metaphor for the pace of time. And the idea that at some point it had to be possible for Jewish women and men to live in peace. In their own state, wherever it was supposed to be. In 1948, the time had come...
If this state had existed before, thousands of Viennese Jewish women and men would not have had to flee to Shanghai between 1938 and 1941. To be able to escape. You could go there if you didn’t have a visa or an affidavit.
Amazing! And the Viennese in China, how did they manage?
Good and bad, better and not good at all, so-so, a bit of everything.
You are obviously part of the new exhibition, aren’t you? Wouldn’t you like to tell me how the Viennese fared in China? Or tell about yourself – as a Chinese. Or are you Japanese in the end? But you also mentioned Salzburg earlier?
Yes, I can gladly do that. However, I have to question my memory more precisely about my Salzburg story. I hope we will correspond again soon!
Maybe we can find out your name, too?