Things to see in Austria?

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by Jakob Kjaersgaard, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Hello all.

    I am slowly starting to do some research concerning my summer holiday next year which I will be spending in Austria.

    What I am looking for is any sort of information about sites to see which are World War 2 related. I am planning on seeing as much as I possibly can. The only thing I have planned so far is to see Berchtesgarten. So any suggestions about what to see is much appreciated.
    Also if anyone has any experience concerning the best places to bring a caravan is also greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jacob -
    The first thing you should do is to get yourself a better will then find that Berchtesgarten is actually in Germany - just over the border from Innsbruck.

    The other thing you might learn is that there was very little WW2 action except for the entry of Russian forces into the Eastern end of Austria as the war in Italy finished in Northern Italy and Austria was then peacefully occupied by the Allies at the beginning of May 1945 and so Austria has very liittle damage apart from that of bombing.

    I would certainly take a caravan there as you can have a wonderful holiday with fantastic scenary as well as being surrounded by friendly people - the main damage after the war was caused by the Russian looting which has long since been rectified.
  3. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Thank you for the quick reply, Tom.

    You are of course correct that Berchtesgarten is in Germany. What I meant to say was that considering it is so close I would also be visiting there. I am also interested in where the various allied divisions etc. were located in Austria and information about their individual tasks.

  4. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    WW2 related, but not exactly for the faint hearted. There is the concentration camp of KZ-Mauthausen-Gusen.

    The link at Wikipedia gives you some info.

    Mauthausen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I watched a documentary about the tours conducted there today and the guides there don't hold back on the information concerning the barbarity of what happened there.
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Just pulling your leg there - actiually from your position it might be a good idea if you were to drop in on Bechetesgarten / Oberammergau - then drop down and around the corner for Innsbruck - Salzberg etc before heading either for Vienna or the south .

    There were three British Divisions occupying their section of Austria along with the US divisions at Innsbrick- Salzberg and the Russians to the Eastern portion - France also had a small section overlapping with the Americans on the Western end - actually the arguement still rages as to who was first into Berchtesgarten - my money would be on the French!

    The British 78th Infantry Division looked after Vienna with the three other powers and a section of SE Austria , Spittal -Kanzel, the 6th Armoured Division looked after the central area of Knittelfeld - Judenberg - Friesach - Althofen - Tribach - Sankt Viet - Strassburg - Gurk, and the 46th Infantry Division looked after the Graz and SE area. During '45 we rounded up the SS and other German units and placed them in POW camps - then helped feed and keep warm the general population - rounded up the Russian deserters for Stalin to shoot - then the British held a Tattoo in Vienna(1946) which raised a sum of 10,000GBP which at that time was 400,000 Austrian Schillings enough to send 2400 Viennese children to summer camp for six weeks with good food and fresh air.
    So it was a wonderful time in Austria as no one was fighting - there are so many things to see and do there - your holiday should be for six months !
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  7. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Ramacal, not for the faint hearted indeed. It will definitely be a place I shall visit, however grim it must be to visit a place like this.

    Tom, sounds like a good plan to cover all the areas you described. Thank you for the information. I will surely have a lot more to research now.
    I remember reading Band of Brothers by Ambrose, which indicates Easy Company being the first into Berchtesgaden. From page 266 of the book "The following morning, May 5, with Easy Company leading the way, the 2d Battalion drove unopposed to Berchtesgaden and took the town without having to fire a shot". But this may just be the american version?

    Owen, I read about that too. Sounds like a beautiful place to visit.

    Thank you all very much for the help.

  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Kjaersgaard -
    That is the main reason I now take everything that Ambrose wrote with a bag of salt - the French - with good reason were first into Bertchesgarten - but they didn't sell many tales to Hollywood..tragic that an historian such as Ambrose would prostitute himself in that manner - but then he was not alone...
    Have a great trip
    von Poop likes this.
  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    I can recommend a really interesting book called 'History of the Eagle's nest' It is a German publication but also printed in English language.

    The author is Florian M Beiri. ISBN No 3-922590-77-2

    In this book I found a very interesting account about what could have been one of the last secret missions of WW2.

    Berchtesgaden was to have been a part of the Last Dedoubt, where the last stand of the 3rd Reich would be made.

    Station X, Bletchley park, were aware of radio communications being transmitted, but were unable to decode the special enigma called "Crocodile". These machines were the state of the art and although Station X could decode normal enigma traffic, crocodile traffic was immune and totally safe at that time.

    Part of the mountain called Kehlstein was where the radio traffic had been triagulated and a raid was planned using paratroops.

    Wing Commander Oeser, who worked at Bletchley park was apparently tasked with leading this assault and landed at the last known coordinates.

    The radios were moved about in trucks but were located at Königsee (A wonderful place to visit) and the surprised guards quickly surrendered to the group.

    This took place about a day before the French and Americans arrived in the area.

    WC Oskar Oeser then surrendered the truck to the astonished 7th US Army who arrived on 4th may 1945.

    Oeser also found a special train, the mobile command post of General Field Marshal Kesselring at the Bischofsweisen train station.

    This was also equipped with the new crocodile enigma decoders.

    The machines were recovered and it is believed ended up in the Uk at GCHQ and also in the USA with the secret service.

    So you see it was neither the US or France that arrived at Berchtesgarten first, it was the British.

    Enjoy your trip, Austria is a very nice place, but when it rains, you really know about it!!!


    dbf likes this.
  10. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Sounds very interesting, Tom. Will have to take a closer look at it now :).

  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    If you are thinking of the South of Austria you could do worse than a few days at Velden.

    I had a lovely time there in 1945, see below:

    Leave at Velden
    After our spell of POW work finished I was sent on leave to Velden on Lake Worthersee, and this was a really first class holiday in beautiful surroundings. Apparently it had always been a well-known holiday resort and the large hotels were commandeered by the military authorities and turned into rest camps. The food was out of this world, or at least so it appeared to us at the time.
    At the other end of the lake was Klagenfurt, and I can remember going by steamer to see a dazzling performance of" Die Fledermaus". On the way there and back we were entertained by an accordion band and there were coloured lights hanging from the rigging to complete the scene. The water was, as I remember, very cold, but the sun was hot and one could lay on the wooden planking that ran down to the lake's edge and up to the hotel terrace.

    A fuller story can be seen here:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Life in Wartime Austria: 4th Queen's Own Hussars July to August 1945

    Whatever you decide to do, have a great trip

  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Might be worth having a look here.
    German War Memorial Website - English - Onlineprojekt Gefallenendenkmäler

    The collection is limited to monuments to fallen soldiers of the German and Austrian armed forces of all wars. The website is arranged by country and region and covers the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and the former German eastern territories. There is also a category of monuments located in other countries. In order to be taken into the collection, a monument must commemorate fallen soldiers of Germany or Austria.

    Ones in Austria here.
    Österreich - Onlineprojekt Gefallenendenkmäler

    It might be worth looking around the local churches and see what their War Memorials are like.
    I found couple of intersting ones in Bavaria this year.
  13. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Ron, looks like a lovely place to visit. I always enjoy reading your diaries, very fascinating. Thank you.

    Cheers Owen, what a great couple of links. I will keep an eye out around the local churches.

  14. battlefieldsww2

    battlefieldsww2 Junior Member

    Hi Jakob, I know your did your trip to austria 4 year ago. But if others a planning a trip to austria, they should for sure visit the flaktowers in Vienna.
    /Martin - Vienna
  15. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    In mid-October 2017, I had to go over to Vienna on business for 3 days and decided to make a mini-holiday out of the trip. My wife and I stayed in Vienna for 1 week and then travelled to Burgenland in the very South East corner of Austria for 3 days. I understand that Burgenland (pronounced ‘Boorgunland’) was the only part of Austria to be occupied by the Russians at/after the end of WWII.

    The Burgenland hotel we stayed in was approximately 1 mile (a single track country road) from a rock, which if circled clockwise you were in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and back in Austria in seconds.

    Anyway, we travelled very slightly west across the Austrian regional border into the Steiermark region to a village called Straden. I hadn’t been particularly looking for WWII ‘stuff’ but was astonished to see a very well kept War Memorial; see photos attached. NB. I don’t know why I was astonished, but I was...

    Straden is a small village, but appears to have been an ‘area’ collection/compilation point for War Memorial purposes.

    The WWI memorial is the central column (front and both sides) and WWII memorial the adjacent tablets (front only).

    Anyway, having done a bit of subsequent online research I have also found these German/Austrian + Austrian memorial sites which readers may find useful, the first being opened at the Straden page; links:

    Straden, Bezirk Südoststeiermark, Steiermark, Österreich

    Das Österreichische Schwarze Kreuz - Kriegsgräberfürsorge"

    After this ‘discovery’ I began to notice lots of War Memorials whilst on our Austrian travels.

    On a separate theme, on our journey home, we travelled by train through the mountains from Graz to Salzburg (flying into Heathrow from the latter).

    My thoughts on Austria are this... There is nothing vibrant (in a London or Paris way) about Vienna but it is very charming, with lots of beautiful architecture and places to visit. Burgenland is absolutely beautiful, as were the mountains and scenery on our train journey from Graz to Salzburg. It is a very clean country. The people appear dour, but are generally approachable, and when approached smiling, friendly and very helpful. I will return.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

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