Hard times come easy

Eight former lawmakers reflect on their years in top-tier politics in “Der Preis der Macht”.

Ex-Greens MEP Ulrike Lunacek, former SPÖ state secretary and Siemens board member Brigitte Ederer and six other women have agreed to speak about their experiences in various opposition and government positions for a new book.

ORF news presenter Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher asked Heide Schmidt what it felt like being considered as just a liberal figleaf for the right-wing Freedom Party under Jörg Haider. Gabi Burgstaller described her way from growing up on the Upper Austrian countryside to becoming governor of Salzburg.

Waltraud Klasnic opened up about the Lassing mine tragedy, arguably the hardest moment of her 10 years as head of the Styrian government, while ex-FPÖ Vice Chancellor Susanne Riess speaks about prejudices concerning women in influential positions in politics. “There is such a great difference in the perception of men and women in politics. People used to discuss my weight instead of my political agenda. Half of the reactions to a long interview on television used to refer to what I was wearing and the colour of my nails,” she told Lorenz-Dittlbacher.

Former ÖVP minister for women and health Maria Rauch-Kallat (“There’s never a lot of time for close friendships in politics. Unfortunately you lose many friends when you’re a politician.”) – whose parents managed a busy Viennese inn – started working at a school in the city’s infamous Favoriten district before having finished her studies. At the same time, she raised two daughters, one of them slowly losing her eyesight.

Rauch-Kallat caused a stir by attempting to change the national anthem’s lyrics in a bid to honour Austria’s “great daughters”. She eventually succeeded – despite some harsh reactions, also within her own party. “I’m fully aware that this isn’t the biggest issue in politics concerning women. Fair salaries are much more important. But it’s a signal,” she says, reflecting on those turbulent weeks back in 2011.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner served as foreign minister and European commissioner. “Other foreign ministers pretended not knowing me anymore,” she reveals, looking back on reactions in Brussels after her party, the conservative ÖVP controversially formed a coalition with Jörg Haider’s right-wing FPÖ. “It was ridiculous,” the former presidential candidate added.

None of the women interviewed by Lorenz-Dittlbacher are filled with self-pity or bitterness about their current situation. But some experiences must have been hard to digest. Asked whether shedding some tears during a speech shortly after an enormous financial scandal emerged has had a bad effect, Burgstaller says: “Yes. People made fun of it. I think it’s a shame. What’s wrong with emotions, also in politics?”

“Der Preis der Macht” is a brutal reminder of the lack of fairness towards women in politics but also in society in general. Confronted by patronising and harassing counterparts, it is an undeniable fact that women often have to work harder than their male colleagues and competitors.

However, this collection of interviews is impressive proof how to get back on your feet after suffering raw and painful defeats. Riess said: “Stepping down was an emotional moment because it was a really hard time physically and mentally. But avoiding self-pity was so important to me. I think letting go is easier for women because they are less vain. There are expectations, of course, but women don’t take themselves so seriously.”

The can-do spirit of Klasnic and Burgstaller – who lived from hand to mouth as children – is as impressive as the achievements of Ederer (“I’ve always strived for power. It helps you getting things done.”) to ensure Austria’s membership of the European Union and Rauch-Kallat’s tireless efforts to improve disabled people’s lives.

The only deplorable aspect about this book is that the eight interviewees did not make it on the cover.

Der Preis der Macht. Österreichische Politikerinnen blacken zurück
By Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher
Published by Residenz Verlag (www.residenzverlag.at)

Toddler tales

A new selection of pie charts and diagrams is capturing the essence of parenthood with delightful precision. “Babys in leiwanden Grafiken” takes a witty look at the straining and enjoyable moments of having a baby – from funny facts on feeding to smelly issues to the most useful inventions as far as parents are concerned. “Babys in leiwanden Grafiken” is certain to make all young parents chuckle as they are fighting the physically taxing effect of their recent sleep deficit.

Babys in leiwanden Grafiken
By Katja Ettenauer & Clemens Ettenauer
Published by Holzbaum (www.holzbaumverlag.at)

Hofmann to return as Rapid face LASK

LASK are determined to keep up their winning streak in Vienna tomorrow (Allianz Stadion, 5pm).

The team from Linz look back on four unbeaten league games while their upcoming opponents Rapid most recently suffered a bitter 1-3 defeat against WAC. “This season’s a bit of a mixed bag for Rapid. They had some highs and lows. They played quite well when they beat Wolfsberg in the cup but then deservedly lost against them in the league. I don’t really know what to expect,” LASK coach Oliver Glasner said.

Rapid are forced to improve defensively but criticism concerning the performances of the team’s strikers is mounting too. Veton Berisha and new signings Andrei Ivan, Andrija Pavlovic and Deni Alar together found the net just four times so far this Bundesliga season.

“Sunday’s match is of great importance. We want to garner as many points as possible before the winter break,” Rapid executive Fredi Bickel announced.

Rapid centre-back Maximilian Hofmann is expected to return after having been sidelined due to injury for several weeks. Midfielder Philipp Schobesberger, who was ruled out for months, already came on against WAC.

>> http://www.skrapid.at

>> http://www.lask.at

Rise & fall

Another biography of Adolf Hitler is trying to unravel the myths of the Nazi dictator’s rapid rise to power.

Dozens of respected historians have examined the personality and political strategy of Hitler, most notably Joachim Fest and Ian Kershaw. Now “Adolf Hitler. Biographie eines Diktators” – an attempt to summarize the life of Hitler on merely more than 300 pages – has been put on the market.

Written with extensive expert knowledge, the book tells from Hitler’s difficult childhood, his idle years in Vienna and Hitler’s World War One service. Then historian Hans-Ulrich Thamer investigates how the NSDAP managed to overcome all opposition in just a few years’ time.

Regardless of Thamer’s precise writing style which helps gathering and digesting lots of information, you soon feel that something is amiss. Eventually it becomes clear that such an important, eventful and dramatic period in history cannot be covered on 320 pages. The author should really have been given the opportunity to write more on decisive turning points in war, Hitler’s mind as well as his relationship with Eva Braun and key allies like Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler.

Adolf Hitler. Biographie eines Diktators
By Hans-Ulrich Thamer
Published by C.H. Beck (www.beck.de)

Across the Universe

Science comedy has been a fringe concern for many years in Austria. But thanks to the tireless efforts of the Science Busters on radio programme FM4, on stage and on television, the masses are desperate for information on conditions in space, meteorites from mars and obscure myths such as ear pressure during a flight.

“Das Universum ist eine Scheißgegend” follows “Wer nichts weiß, muss alles glauben” and “Gedankenlesen durch Schneckenstreicheln” which was named Austria’s Science Book of the Year in 2013. Following the death of astrophysics expert Heinz Oberhummer, the Science Buster’s line-up has changed. However, their books are still selling like hot cakes – which is anything but surprising.

The Science Busters are unmatched when it comes to making complex facts accessible. In their book and on the four five-hour talking CDs, Austria’s science boy band delivers insightful and massively entertaining information on a wide spectrum of astonishing topics.

Das Universum ist eine Scheißgegend
By Heinz Oberhummer, Martin Puntigam and Werner Gruber
Published by Hanser (www.hanser-literaturverlage.de)

True Detectives

Thomas Brezina has created lots of fascinating characters and over the years but now he is back with what is arguably his trump card.

“Schatten der Zukunft” is the title of the latest Knickerbocker-Bande instalment. Having restarted the series about four teenage detectives with “Alte Geister ruhen unsanft”, Brezina – whose books sold over 40 million copies – has decided to continue it due to overwhelmingly positive feedback online and at several bookshop events all over Austria.

“I wasn’t really sure whether to continue after having written two chapters,” Brezina said about the restart, adding that the enormous number of suggestions from long-time readers and fans of Axel, Lilo, Poppi and Dominik encouraged him. Now it seems that a rediscovering of the bestseller writer by a younger generation is underway thanks to his Instagram posts.

Asked to explain the fascination for the new Knickerbocker-Bande volumes, the author, who lives in Vienna and London, said: “It’s not just nostalgia. Readers are also wondering what happened to this group of friends who used to be their childhood heroes.”

Knickerbocker4immer: Schatten der Zukunft
By Thomas Brezina
Published by Ecowin (www.ecowin.at)

Iconic images

Memorable moments in the history of Austria can now be revisited in a photo exhibition in Vienna.

“Photo/Politics/Austria” – now on at the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) – reviews the past 100 years of the country, from the end of World War One in 1918 until today. The exhibit takes place as various political and cultural institution organise events commemorating the decline of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 and Austria’s “Anschluss” to Nazi Germany 20 years later.

Many of the selected photographs are of enormous significance and have therefore enjoyed considerable attention. A considerable amount of the images on display will be well known to most visitors as they document decisive occurrences in politics, society and sports. However, there is a great chance they will take away a lasting impression after attending the exhibition thanks to the numerous rare photographs from the old days.

>> http://www.mumok.at

WAC vow vengeance

WAC face Rapid on Sunday (2.30pm) and fans of both clubs are unsure whether to be thrilled or terrified.

Supporters of the Carinthian side celebrated a 3-2 away win against FK Austria in the league last weekend. Now the Wolfsberg side sit comfortably in fourth in the 12-team Bundesliga. Rapid – who are only in seventh after some disappointing performances – have failed to beat WAC away from home for more than three years. However, the Green-Whites achieved a rather convincing 3-0 ÖFB Cup win against WAC in Wolfsberg last week. Tonight (6.55pm) Rapid are pressurised to beat La Liga side Villarreal in a crucial Europa League fixture.

Meanwhile, WAC coach Christian Ilzer has vowed to stay after rumours have occurred linking Ilzer with Sturm Graz. The vice champions recently dismissed Heiko Vogel and reports had it Ilzer might seize the opportunity to operate at a club with a significant higher budget. But now the former Hartberg manager stressed he was not considering such a move. “I basically just arrived here. I’ll stay,” he said.

>> http://www.rzpelletswac.at

On collision course with a submarine

Rapid vow to take revenge as the Green-Whites suffered a humiliating 0-5 defeat against Villarreal in their most recent Europa League with the Spanish side nicknamed Yellow Submarine.

“I don’t think they are over-confident right now,” Rapid skipper Stefan Schwab said about his team’s opponents from western Spain ahead of tonight’s fixture (Allianz Stadion Vienna, 6.55pm).

Villarreal are just in 16th place in La Liga but Rapid have not performed any better so far this season. Having drawn with Altach last Sunday, the 32-time league champs are currently seventh.

It seems as if less drama is bubbling up in the club after Dietmar Kühbauer was appointed manager last month. Fans and club officials are hoping that the former Rapid midfielder can draw the best from the squad who have been lacking consistency.

“The atmosphere has improved. We want to achieve a turnaround,” Schwab said, adding that the team must win to retain a small chance of reaching the next stage in international competition.

>> http://www.skrapid.at