Friday, July 03, 2009

The Amalienbad

Last Saturday afternoon, Rob took Will and Sebi to visit the Amalienbad. It was supposed to rain all day, so we wanted to find some more indoor options for swimming, since that continues to be something the whole family enjoys. This is just a municipal pool on the south side of town, but the architecture is typical for its period. It's from Red Vienna, the period during the two world wars, when Vienna was had just lost its monarchy and its empire and was now a world-class capital of a very small country with a brand new government. They were led by the Social Democrats and they made amazing strides on social welfare and health reforms, though they messed up other things. You can check out some of them on the article, and this really explains a lot of Austria even today.

I realize that in the US socialists = communists = bad, but in Europe, there are socialist and communist parties which are alive and well in government and passing measures that we need desperately at home. Just yesterday I was talking to one of our students about his trip over the break. He said 'there seem to be a lot more people begging there, asking for money' and I pointed out to him that in Vienna, the government does a good job taking care of the homeless. I showed him the daily bunch of guys sprawled out on the benches in our plaza.

Because we live here, we see that every Monday there's a medical van who comes to help them. Every day there are people in red t-shirts or jackets, in pairs like the missionaries, who come by to check on them. They appear to know them by name and they're looking after their physical and social welfare. It's not always peachy keen: this morning there was an ambulance and an arrest. But I'm impressed at how well the state keeps these transient types on the radar. And it seems fitting that these guys hang out right next to Julius Tandler plaza, because it's named for the man who was a reformer of health and social issues. Ah, they're arguing outside . . .


Pmom said...

What is behind all of the little doors above the swimming pool? I assume that those aren't dressing rooms are they?

mary ann said...

Indeed, those are the dressing rooms. And while we were there, a very chubby old man did not close his door. My students were amused and appalled.