Ehmann, Julia, Viennese tobacconist (1906-1988). Tage-Buch.

Vienna and other places, 1928-1958.

4to (145 x 230 mm). German manuscript (German cursive to July 1935, Latin cursive from then onwards), copying pencil on paper. 323 pp. and 23 blank ff.; 7 ff. removed. Numerous family photographs, greeting cards, newspaper clippings and pressed flowers are inserted. All edges marbled. Contemporary cloth with printed label "Tage-Buch" on the upper cover, "Julia Ehmann von 1928-19" added by hand.

 1,500.00

A Viennese woman's extensive diary, covering three decades of personal and political events ranging from the writer's wedding in 1928 and Hitler's triumphal entrance to Vienna in 1938 to the Second World War, Germany's defeat, the Russian occupation, and the later postwar period. Julia Ehmann (née Vesely), wife of the Viennese tobacconist Ferdinand Ehmann, appears as a catholic housekeeper who wholeheartedly subscribes to the most conservative socio-political standards of her time. The diary, her preface reveals, is a gift from her fiancé, who has encouraged her to record in it whatever she encounters in life, and she submits to this task with diligence. The earliest entries recount such events as the birth of their children, the death of their dog, sewing and laundering, and hikes in the Salzburg mountains, but also family tragedies, with frequent reflective passages in which she discusses at length her outlook on life. If her writing betrays a sentimentalist streak which mirrors the penchant of her age for lofty pathos and possibly her own tastes in reading, her strong feelings do not therefore appear less sincere.

The ever-growing political radicalization of the later 1930s soon leaves its mark upon the diary, and Ehmann ventures to have discovered the reason for the upheavals of her times: "Die Gottlosigkeit die mehr denn je über Hand nimmt, die überaus durch harte Dogmen kämpfende Kirche, die Herrschsucht des unterdrückenden Judentums, die Ungleichheiten der Nationen, die Bekämpfung des Nationalismus durch den Kommunismus, die Gottlosen mit den Gläubigen, alle die Reaktionen dieser dich kämpfenden Mitmenschen beeinträchtigen die Ruhe des Volkes" (9 Sept. 1937). She is deeply impressed with the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, whose speech at the Vienna Konzerthaus she attends, noting admiringly: "Leni Riefenstahl die kraftvolle Mitschöpferin der deutschen Filmkunst erlebte ich gestern im Konzerthaus! [...] ein Bild von Schönheit & Anmut, ein Bild von Entschlossenheit & Energie, ein Bild von unsagbarem Reiz.

So stand sie gestern vor mir [...]" (28 April 1938). Indeed, many of Ehmann's entries display her unreserved enthusiasm for National Socialism, though she seems belatedly to have self-censored her starkest comments. About the "Anschluss", she notes on 15 March 1938: "Triumph und Sieg Adolf Hitlers! Wie rasch wendet sich das Zeitenrad! Wann hat ein Kaiser o. König solchen Triumph ge[...]" (the following five leaves have been cut out), and again on 1 Oct. 1938: "Ich denke zurück an die prachtvollen Tage des Reichsparteitages in Nürnberg welche wir vom 5.-12. Sept. 38 [...] (here, two leaves have been excised). As the war draws near, she expresses joy over the German victories: "Deutschland erlebt den Sieg! Böhmen und Mähren stehen unter dem Protektorat, unter dem Schutze Deutschlands, am 15. d. zog der Führer mit seinen Truppen in Prag ein, dieser ältesten Universitätsstädt, bezog den Hradschin und löste die jüdisch kommunistische Regierung, die unter dem Drucke Rußlands stand [...]" (21 March 1939). During the war years she describes shopping for groceries with ration stamps and the role of women in times of war as well as the education of her daughters in the "Bund deutscher Mädl". She records news about the progress of the war, but also describes the deportation of the Viennese Jews, to which she is a witness: "Alle Juden verlassen Wien, es ist ein Aufgebot unseres Wiener Reichsstatthalter Baldur v. Schirachs, Wien Judenfrei zu machen. Es drängen von allen Windrichtungen Volksdeutsche ins deutsche Land. Es ist eine große Umsiedlung wie sie in der Geschichte niemals vorkam" (12 March 1941). She loses her flat in the air raids on Vienna in the spring of 1945, but tries to persevere with her family in the shelter of the cellars: "Belagerung Wiens durch die Russen - Bomben Artilerie [!] Maschinengewehr Feuer und Maschinen über unsere Dächer in unseren Straßen. Am 22. IV. verlor ich meine Wohnung durch den Luftterror, heute sitzen wir mit starken Nerven im Keller, Tag [und] Nacht und warten entweder auf den Tod o. das Leben. Wie der oberste Herr entscheidet" (9 April 1945). While she describes the chaos and sufferings of the immediate postwar period, her diary entries grow less frequent in the early 1950s. She notes the reopening of the Vienna opera house in 1955, but we find no mention of the Austrian State Treaty of the same year. Her husband has lost his eyesight and retreated into inwardness, and with bitter sorrow she records her loneliness.

A woman's remarkable account of Vienna in the years before, during, and after the War, and a record of the early enthusiasm and later the utter despair of the Austrian population. Very well preserved.