As it advanced westward, the Red Army reached Austrian territory on March 29, 1945. The battle for Vienna ended after fierce fighting on April 13, 1945. Both sides incurred heavy losses. Even in the last hours of the war, the SS murdered Jews in Vienna. The Soviet troops were accompanied by the Jewish photographer Yevgeny Khaldei. He took exceptional photos of the street fighting, bomb ruins and, soon afterwards, the hunger and homelessness, but also the hope for a new beginning that characterized civilian life in spring 1945. Khaldei’s photos feature the sights of Vienna— St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the parliament building, Heldenplatz, Belvedere Palace, or the grave of Johann Strauss at the Central Cemetery—but always with Soviet soldiers in front of them. Khaldei’s colleague Olga Lander (1909–1996) arrived a few weeks later in Vienna and photographed the official events.
After World War II, Khaldei discovered that his entire family had been killed by the Nazis. His mother had been murdered in a pogrom when Khaldei was just one year old. The pictures by the Jewish photographers Yevgeny Khaldei and Olga Lander provide vivid testimony to these days of such vital significance in Austria’s history.
Curator: Marcus G. Patka Exhibition design: Fuhrer, Wien