Act I Scene 9


In a primary school.

ZEHETBAUER[1], TEACHER:    Now that nobler ideals have overwhelmed us, tourism must push back a little and no longer be considered in the front line. Nevertheless we must not drop the ball; it is our duty, after we have all contributed our mite to the fatherland, to continue, unswervingly, undauntedly, along the well-trodden path. The tender shoots of tourism, which have been planted everywhere and which, thanks to the solicitude of a highly commendable education authority and an admirable school inspectorate, have found their way even into your young hearts, will not be crushed underfoot by the heavy tread of marching men, however indispensable that may be in these great times. On the contrary, those shoots will be nurtured and nourished for ever more. But today it is essential that each and every man stands up to be counted, you as well; it applies to you too, even as you approach your parents and guardians for a birthday treat, that lovely children’s game ‘Let’s Play World War’[2], or with Christmas round the corner, ‘Death to the Russians’. Know too that as a reward for your hard work and good behaviour, with the agreement of your dear parents and guardians of course, on Sunday you will be allowed to bang a nail into the patriotic symbol of the Iron Soldier[3], and by hammering home that nail –

CLASS:    Brilliant!

(A boy puts his hand up.)

TEACHER:    What is it, Gasselseder[4]?

GASSELSEDER:    Sir, I bashed one in with my dad, can I do it again?

TEACHER:    Parents or guardians permitting, the school management will not stand in the way of your patriotic desire to hammer in another nail, to honour those who have got to go –

(A boy raises his hand.)

What do you want, Czeczowiczka[5]?

CZECZOWICZKA:    Please sir, I’ve got to go.

TEACHER:    Got to go! You’re too young, wait till you’re older.

CZECZOWICZKA:   Please, I have to–

TEACHER:    It’s hardly a wish I can satisfy now. Don’t be absurd. Why do you insist on going?

CZECZOWICZKA:   Please sir, I just need to.

TEACHER:    Wait for better times to come. You’d only set a bad example to your classmates. It’s the fatherland that’s in need, so take that as your inspiration, and for now it simply asks you to hold on.

(Two boys raise their hands.)

Wunderer[6] Karl and Wunderer Rudolf, what is it?

BOTH:    Sir, we’d like to bang some nails into the Iron Pole.

TEACHER:    Sit down! Shame on you both! The Iron Pole is one of our Viennese landmarks, where long ago apprentices hammered in nails to bring good fortune and there’s no room for any more. But with your energetic assistance the Iron Soldier will also become a landmark, a tourist attraction, a story to tell your children and grandchildren.

KOTZLIK:    Sir, Merores[7] keeps poking me.

MERORES:    That’s not true, he called me a Jew, I’ll tell my dad, he’ll give him what for, he’ll put it in his newspaper!

TEACHER:    Kotzlik and Merores, a truce please! We come now to our reading passage: Hatesong for England[8]. Merores, remain standing and answer my questions, what is the name of the poet who wrote this?

MERORES:    I know that – Frischauer[9].

TEACHER:    Wrong, sit down.

PRAXMARER (whispering):    Lissauer,

TEACHER:    Praxmarer[10], if you prompt just once more, I will let you copy out the whole of Hofmannsthal’s Prince Eugen[11]. Now I’ve lost my thread.

(Several boys rush to his desk and stoop down to search.)

TEACHER:    What are you looking for?

BOYS:    Your thread, sir, you said you lost your thread, sir.

TEACHER:    Clowns, I meant figuratively not literally -.

WOTTAWA[12]:    Sir, my textbook might untangle –

TEACHER:    Wottawa, you don’t seem to understand either. But your immaturity is all too clear. I was going to test the class on the Hatesong, but I shall let you off today. You will have to prepare for the ideals which these great times demand tomorrow, I can show leniency no longer. What would the school inspector think if he walked into the class with all this going on? Now that you all have to campaign for the second war loan it is your duty, more than ever, not to disappoint our expectations. So, make sure you know Hatesong for England by heart in the morning! I can only impress on you again and again: Endure, contribute your mite to the cause, promote the war loan, salvage scrap metal, and seek out the gold that lies unused in your chests! For today I shall go easy on you; we will revise tourism. So perk up! I explained earlier why, even now, tourism must not be neglected. Although the bitter storm of war is sweeping across our land, as our noble monarch calls thousands upon thousands of our sons and brothers to arms, even now the first signs of an increase in tourism are showing themselves. Let us not lose sight of this goal. We have a beautiful text, ‘Tourism: A River of Gold’. But not yet. Strike up the old song you learned in peacetime, still remember?

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Well, Habetswallner[13]?

HABETSWALLNER:    I know it, sir, ‘At the Landlord’s Lovely Inn’[14].

TEACHER:    Wrong!

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Yes, Braunshör[15]?

BRAUNSHÖR:    ‘Always Be Honest and True.’[16]

TEACHER:    Not at all! Shame on you!

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Fleischanderl[17]?

FLEISCHANDERL:    ‘Rambling Is the Miller’s Pleasure.’[18]

TEACHER:   Sit down!

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Well, Zitterer[19]?

ZITTERER:    ‘Go out to Distant Lands.’[20]

TEACHER:    Sit down! It can hardly be about going to distant lands, can it? The world’s supposed to come to us!

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Süssmandl[21], do you know it?

CZECZOWICYKA:    Please sir, I’ve still got to go!

TEACHER:    What’s the matter with you boy, I’ve told you, it’s simply not on, either in school or out of school? So, doesn’t anyone know this song?

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    Anderle[22], what about you?

ANDERLE:    ‘What Do I Care for Goods and for Gold?’[23]

TEACHER:    Go and sit at the back. Where did you learn that? Deplorable, Anderle! I can see that in this Time of Iron you’ve all forgotten. It is that dear old song which once taught you your vowels. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I’ll get my fiddle and you’ll be able to join in immediately.

(A boy raises his hand.)

TEACHER:    So, Sukfüll[24], are you going to bring shame on the class?

SUKFÜLL:   It’s‘Take Care of Tourism’[25].

TEACHER:    Bravo, Sukfüll, the whole class has been humiliated by you, I shall inform your father, he is certain to commend you for it.

(He takes up the fiddle, the class joins in and sings.)


A, A, A, the tourists are on their way,

The season’s beginning, the till rolls are spinning,

The scrimping’s all over and now we’re in clover,

A, A, A, the tourists are on their way.

E, E, E, Your Honour just come and see,

Our horses so haughty, girls pretty and sporty,

Their faces so gracious, their legs so curvaceous,

E, E, E, Your Honour just come and see.

I, I, I, whatever you’re dying to try,

Don’t be straight-laced, you’ve got money to waste,

Tear up a ham hock in a world full of schlock,

I, I, I, whatever you’re dying to try.

O, O, O, how Vienna can put on a show,

Oozing great cheer, Sachertorte, wine and beer,

And a plentiful ration of Viennese passion,

O, O, O, how Vienna can put on a show.

U, U, U, peace in our hearts through and through,

We all gaily belong to this City of Song,

You’ve been fleeced for each tune, so please come back soon,

U, U, U, peace in our hearts through and through.


[1]A real name, but Zehet basically means ‘pull’; it can be used of ringing a bell and, maybe by extension, can mean something like ‘drone on’, not far from ‘pontificate’; Bauer is‘farmer’, but here it a variation on ‘oaf’, ‘buffoon’; which  all seems to say the right thing; an English equivalent, something like Clodspout.

[2] This was a real children’s game.

[3] Der Wehrmann in Eisen, metal statue of a soldier; nails were hammered in for a donation; it was inspired by the tree trunk in Stock-im-Eisen Platz, where apprentices once hammered a nail for luck and a safe journey home after their apprenticeships; similar objects elsewhere included Nagelkreuze, nail crucifixes.

[4] The boys represent Vienna’s cultural mix; mainly German and Jewish, with Slav elements; but there is also humour in this accumulation of real, but sometimes odd names. A 1979 sketch of Rowan Atkinson’s begins with a schoolmaster’s register of names, which become more and more unlikely as the sketch progresses; but even the believable names provoke laughter. Suggestions for Kraus’s names reflect aspects of meaning, with no great regard for accurate etymology; they can’t reflect the racial labelling. Gasselseder is an Austrian name which may originally have been Geisselsöder, probably from Upper Austria; Gasselseder is also a Jewish name, where the fact that seder is Hebrew for, among other things, the Passover dinner may have resonance. From the element Geissel we might call Gasselseder Scourge.

[5] The name of at least one family of Jewish farmers and entrepreneurs based in both Vienna and Bohemia. Czeczowiczka is Polish in form, though it would originally have meant someone of Czech origin.

[6] Wonderer, Dreamer. It was also the name of Anton Wunderer’s coffeehouse close to Schönbrunn.

[7] Kotzlík, from Czech kozel, Goat. Merores,Jewish name; Lea Merores Asylum for Orphan Girls, 1904.

[8] By Ernst Lissauer (1882-1937, a German-Jewish poet and dramatist remembered for the phrase ‘Gott strafe England’. His best known work was Hassgesang gegen England. He died in Vienna in 1937, his name already erased from history by the Nazis, but his work still in daily use by them. This is from the ‘Hatesong’, and is a fair indication of his style and quality:

We never will renounce our hate,
We all have only this one hate,
We love as one, we hate as one,
We have one enemy alone – England!

[9] Otto Frischauer (1862-1942), lawyer and sometime journalist on the Wiener Taggblatt; he was described by Kraus in Die Fackel as ‘ein Genie der Aufdringlichkeit’, ‘a genius when it comes to pushiness’.

[10] Name associated with the Tyrol. Praxmarer is now a brand of coffee; ‘Der aromatische Kaffee aus Tirol’.

[11] Hugo von Hofsmannsthal (1874-1929), poet, playwright and essayist; he abandoned poetry for the theatre, believing it offered greater scope to influence events, especially at a time of rising anti-Semitism (though a Catholic his family origins were Judaeo-Spanish); he is best known now for his librettos for Richard Strauss, among them ‘Elektra’ and ‘Der Rosankavalier’. He wrote ‘Prince Eugen the Noble Knight’ in 1905. Kraus loathed Hofsmannsthal; copying this long patriotic piece was punishment indeed.

[12] Aftermath. Votava is the Czech or Slovak version, from a word meaning ‘aftermath’ or the ‘second crop’ of a field. The Wottawa is also a river now in the Czech Republic (Otava, Czech), known at this time as a fresh water pearl fishery. It is not a common name in Austria but is still found, particularly in Vienna.

[13] Bloodboil. In ‘Lieutenant Gustl’ (1900), Arthur Schnitzler’s story about a Jewish soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army, Habetswallner is a baker insulted by Gustl; the incident provokes a suicidal, farcical angst that parodies the obsessions of the army and the Empire: honour, militarism, anti-Semitism, privilege.

[14] ‘Bei einem Wirte wundermild’, by Ludwig Uhland (1787-1847); set by several composers.

[15] Brownlobe.

[16] ‘Üb immer Treu und Redlichkeit’, by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty (1748-1776); music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The poem is actually called ‘The Old Peasant and Son’.

[17] Flesh not meat, suggesting a fat schoolboy: Pudgely, Fleshling; Bunter would not be inappropriate.

[18]‘Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust’, by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827; music, Carl Zöllner (1800-1860).

[19] Tremble.

[20]‘Hinaus in die Ferne!’, lyrics and music by Alfred Methfessel (1786-1869).

[21] Sweetalmond.

[22] Else.

[23] ‘Was frag ich viel nach Geld und Gut’, by Jonannes Martin Miller (1750-1814), settings by Mozart, Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798), Johan Zumsteeg (1760-1802), Carl Chrisitan Agthe (1762-1797).

[24] Chockfull.

[25] Kraus’s version of a song which won a Ministry of Education competition in 1912; by Else John.