English-language Exclusive: Vienna rejects King John III’s statue as anti-Turkish

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Add this to the annals of European dhimmitude and spinelessness:

Polish media is reporting that the city of Vienna has rejected the Polish gift of a statue of King Jan III Sobieski, who in 1683 led a multinational coalition that relieved the siege of Vienna by the Turkish troops. The statue was to come from Vienna’s sister city, Krakow (coincidentally my place of birth), and be unveiled on the 12th of September at Kahlenberg, outside Vienna, from where the combined Polish, Hapsburg and Holy Roman Empire forces had launched their counter-attack. As Polish Radio reports,

Even though it has been already cast and was waiting to be transported to Austria’s capital, the monument to the Polish king will not be erected in Vienna… There have been signals from Vienna’s civic authorities that such monument would have anti-Turkish resonance [my translation].

The Sobieski monument will likely now stay in Krakow. In Vienna, instead, there will be a softer and gentler monument, as the Viennese authorities have informed the Poles:

“We are proposing a new international competition for a place commemorating the memory of king Jan III Sobieski in Vienna, which would be more reflective of today’s standards… The winning project will spotlight historical connections in light of the future-oriented European culture of remembrance.”

Which sounds like the culture of forgetting.

This is all a surprise to the city of Krakow, and the artist Czeslaw Dzwigaj, who created the sculpture. His original project was approved by the Viennese authorities back in 2013 and has been since then completed without any issues with the Austrian side. Says Dzwigaj, “There is nothing anti-Turkish about the monument. But I suspect that it too literally reminds people about a specific historical event.”

So what happened?

In June, Vienna’s new mayor became Michael Ludwig from the Social Democrat party. Soon thereafter, the Viennese authorities sent a letter to the Polish Committee to Build the Sobieski Monument stating that this is not the best time to be erecting military monuments. Last September, vandals damaged the proposed site, painting obscenities and throwing black paint at a billboard previewing the Sobieski monument [see below]. Also destroyed at the time was an Ukrainian monument commemorating the participation of Cossacks as the relief of Vienna.

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The relief of the siege of Vienna is one of the most consequential battles in the European history. It marked the zenith of the Ottoman power and was the last time that the Turkish empire seriously threatened Central Europe. A contemporary Turkish historian described it as the most disastrous defeat in Ottoman history. In the years and decades that follow, Hungary was recovered and the Turks were slowly rolled back from the Balkans, the process which only finished in 1912. The battle is famous for the largest cavalry charge in history, including the famous Polish heavy cavalry, the winged hussars, with the Polish king leading the charge. The wings were said to create a terrifying noise to accompany what was the 17th century equivalent of a blitzkrieg attack by a tank division.

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The monument, cast in bronze and measuring 3 metres high by 8 metres long, is currently resting on a specially built trailer in a factory hall in Gliwice, in southern Poland. As “Gazeta Krakowska” (“Cracow Gazette”) reminded its disappointed readers, Austria is now home to half a million Muslim migrants, of which a large proportion are the Turks.

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